Written by Julianne Reichert, Duane Morris LLP

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I could sit here and tell you the story of how the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House was founded nearly 40 years ago, the first of over 300 across the world. However, it’s easy enough for you to learn about the history of Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald House Charities by visiting their respective websites.

Much more interesting is the story of a vibrant two-year old girl I met whom I’ll call “Angie.” Angie was a patient at CHOP, although you couldn’t tell simply from looking at her. With her big, brown eyes and cheerful smile, Angie enjoyed giving me high-fives in between drinking her milk and practicing her American Idol 2020 auditions. She even had a keen eye for my colorful earrings! My time with Angie was short, as she was excited to go play with the therapy dogs that visit most nights. Amidst a chuckle, her mother explained that she is fearless of the big dogs and will simply laugh if they accidentally push her down, only to pick herself right back up and continue.

I also met a lovely family from Kansas. One of the couple’s twin daughters, barely three months old, had open heart surgery in her first two weeks of life and is still being treated. Along with one set of grandparents, they spoke about the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House community, and the common bond they share with other resident families, offering each other moral support. When they need a moment alone, the volunteers are ready to babysit their four-year old daughter. They get their fair share of walking, and in between hospital visits, have scouted out some of Philly’s best attractions – the Liberty Bell, The Franklin Institute and Reading Terminal Market – my personal favorite.

Before learning about the magic of the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House through the eyes of its residents, a group of over 20 ambitious YPN volunteers bonded over laughter, tears (at least, the onion cutters!) and clever maneuvering while preparing a Philly-themed menu for the residents. I was the designated salad mixer and hoagie toaster. Of course, you can’t host a Philly-themed meal without cheesesteaks, pretzels, tomato pies and Rita’s Italian ice! There was so much more, with plenty of leftovers for those who were unable to make it that night.

YPN’s Volunteer Committee did a superb job creating the fun menu, as well as organizing the volunteers and food donations. All of us agreed – this is an event that we are sure to repeat! For more information on how you can help, please visit http://www.philarmh.org/get-involved/.