PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As some restrictions are lifted across the region, certain areas of life are returning to a new normal. One of those places is the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House.
The house is gearing up to accept new families again so it can be their “home away from home” while their children receive critical medical care.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a feeling of fear and uncertainty quickly spread. But imagine being the parents of a sick child who needs life-saving care, often at a hospital far from home.
There were 78 families staying at the Ronald McDonald House on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia when the quarantine went into effect.
“We started not accepting new families and we put protocols and cleanliness and safety measures in to make sure we were keeping over 200 people safe,” CEO Susan Campbell said.
But now, with some restrictions easing, the house is getting ready to start welcoming new families once again.
“A serious illness of a child didn’t take a break during a pandemic and families are going to need us more than ever. We have a lot of families that have lost their jobs and have found out that they have a seriously ill child,” Campbell said.
The Fonseca-Gonzalez family has been at the Ronald McDonald House since last June. They have 15-month-old twins with serious immune system deficiencies. They also have a 3-year-old daughter.
They were among the 78 families who remained at the house when the pandemic hit.
“It’s definitely different than when we first got here but throughout our whole stay it’s been phenomenal. We’ve never seen such hospitality and generosity,” father Joseph Fonseca said.
Fonseca lost his job because of COVID-19. He has been able to find some work but times have been tough.
“It was a scary situation but it was turned around greatly for us,” he said.
The family was about to experience a wonderful surprise — a donation from the Nuna Baby Company.
“We have a double stroller, we have everything from travel cribs and the best part, we have three car seats for all of them and we have an all-in-one car seat,” said Brielle Freeman, with Nuna Baby.
The Fonseca-Gonzalez family is looking for a permanent home so they can stay close to the hospital and Nuna Baby’s gifts will help them in their new home.
“The generosity keeps pouring in, blessing after blessing. We appreciate it so much, it’s great,” Fonseca said.
“It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and I’m so grateful to be here for sure and yeah, it’s probably something that will stay with me for a while now, so I thank Ronald McDonald House for all that they do,” Freeman said.
Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide rely heavily on donations. Since the pandemic began, donations to the Ronald McDonald House of Philadelphia are down by about $1 million, or 25%. Click here to donate.