January 18, 2017
Many children at RMHC Toronto consider Ami their BFF
Ami Armagost believes in the power of family-centred care. In her formal education, and now in her role as program coordinator at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto, Ami has learned the power of keeping families with seriously ill children close.
“When a child is sick, their whole family experiences the illness along with them,” she says. “When they’re cared for as a family unit, they can be resilient and rely on each other’s strength.”
Ami’s passion for helping every member of a family is what makes her so beloved by the families who stay at RMHC Toronto. She joined the organization as a volunteer in July 2015, after earning her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies. Ami immediately felt at home here and, within months, she was hired to work on the programs team. Since then, she’s helped plan and execute the more than 20 family programs offered by RMHC Toronto.
From Mad Hatter Tea Parties to Christmas in July, Ami is known for bringing creativity and fun to every activity or event she plans. But it’s her genuine kindness and warmth that have truly endeared her to families.
“Our family spent over six months at the House last year and our boys absolutely adored Ami,” says Tammy McInerney. While her daughter, Jordan, was being treated for leukemia, Tammy’s twin boys, Noah and Jacob, spent a lot of time participating in programs with Ami.
Ami and Jacob (left); Ami and Noah (right)
“Our summer was very busy and emotional and our family was apart a lot. The boys could easily have gotten lost in the mix. Ami not only kept their attention but earned their trust. They looked for her every day because she was fun and made their time at the House a lot more normal than it really was.”
Jacob and Noah participated in Lunch Club, a supervised lunch hour for students at the RMHC Toronto School. It’s the program Ami is most proud of.
“When you share a meal together, everyone becomes comfortable opening up to one another,” she says. “Every day, these kids of all ages and backgrounds discuss everything from the latest toys to what it’s like to visit their sibling at the hospital. It’s very intimate, and it gives them an extra hour of calm and camaraderie during a chaotic time.”
These moments of connection and joy are what bring Ami true satisfaction in her work.
“I’m always trying to plan big parties and new, cool events, but at the end of the day, it’s the simple things that make children the most happy. If a child smiles, that’s good enough for me.”