Family Support Program
Through the year, we match screened and trained volunteer teams with families receiving treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital and often living at the Ronald McDonald House. These volunteers befriend patients, siblings, and parents, providing weekly relational support. From climbing jungle gyms, to visiting the Children’s Museum, to going out for ice cream, our volunteers are experts at play, providing encouragement and laughter for kids and relief for parents.
Ronald McDonald Volunteer Teams
Side-by-Side hosts regular events at the Ronald McDonald House, including monthly BINGO nights, bi-weekly craft nights, and special holiday events. These fun and entertaining diversions provide families with opportunities to laugh together and create happy memories. We also coordinate volunteer teams who purchase, prepare, and serve nutritious, homemade, and kid-friendly meals four times every month for approximately 50 families living at the Ronald McDonald House. These meals support the general health and wellness of families, and relieve stress as families cope with the array of challenges presented by childhood illness.
The highlight of our year! Camp Side-by-Side is a classic summer experience designed for families who have a child with cancer. 20 families (approximately 60 kids, plus caregivers) attend Camp free of charge, and over 150 volunteers serve all week as buddies, baristas, craft helpers, and work crew to create a memorable and joyful experience. Another 70 volunteers assist with special events through the week, including a Variety Show, Carnival Day, Mom’s Spa, Parents Night Out, and Dad’s Race Day. Parents and caregivers have a chance to rest, kids play for hours, and everyone is treated to the celebration of being together.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
We continue to serve families throughout the year in small, practical, everyday kinds of ways, and we are continually surprised by the significant impact these simple acts of kindess have. We do our best to be nimble and responsive to the real needs of families. For example, while we normally provide one pair of volunteers to a family while they are in Seattle for treatment, we were recently approached by a family under especially challenging circumstance (a daughter whose cancer relapsed, two energetic boys, and a brand new baby). We were able to provide this family with two volunteer teams who can bring twice the encouragment and support, and we hope to include this family at Camp this summer!
In addition to on-going general support for our year-round programming, we are currently looking for sponsors to help continue our tradition of sending kids and their parents/caregivers to Camp free of charge. Camp costs $500 per person, which covers housing and food, and also allows us to create an unforgettable experience for families. We typically include 20 families.