Reflections During a Difficult Week, As We Set a Path Forward

 

The last three months have been challenging – but this week was particularly tough.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected each of us, in all aspects of our daily lives. Every day at our local Ronald McDonald Houses and Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, we provide families with sick children a place to eat a warm meal and curl into a comfortable bed so they can be close to their hospitalized child – and that will never change. But the impact of the pandemic has been tangible inside our Houses. We feel it in the absence of togetherness in our shared spaces – our kitchens, play rooms, living rooms, and gathering spots. The joy, comfort, and sense of community that is so important for family support and healing is temporarily missing. Today our Houses and Family Rooms are quiet, but I take comfort knowing that the joy will soon return.

Parallel to the challenges of the pandemic, the shocking deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor motivated the global community to take a stand on racial and social inequality. It caused our organization to pause and reflect on our values and declare, alongside so many organizations, that we will not tolerate injustice in any form and that Black Lives Matter. We recognize we have much work to do to turn our words into actions to support our community – especially our Black staff members, volunteers, families, donors, partners, and our community as a whole.

This week, we also experienced an unexpected, painful, and unacceptable situation involving racist statements made by one of our past Ronald McDonald House guests. These statements were intolerable and do not align with the values of our organization. We are deeply committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for families, volunteers, and staff, and, as a result, we made the decision to end all association with the Cepkauskas family, including access to our services, and any marketing or fundraising campaigns. In addition, we affirmed that any family that exhibits this type of unacceptable behavior will not be eligible to benefit from our programs.

This week was full of disappointment and heartbreak – but it also held moments of introspection, learning, and growth. We stand beside our Black team members and community, and we are committed to doing the work to ensure inclusion and equality for all.

– Holly Buckendahl, CEO