October 05, 2020
Carolyn and her son, Josiah, have found a place to call home at RMHC Toronto.
During her pregnancy, Carolyn learned Josiah had a hole in his heart. Only two days after birth, he showed signs of heart failure and was transferred to a hospital in Halifax for open heart surgery. For weeks afterwards, Carolyn's husband, Aaron, drove her and Josiah 443 kms each way from Holtville to the hospital in Halifax for multiple check-up appointments to monitor his recovery. But he was not progressing like the doctors hoped.
At only five months old, Josiah was listed for a heart transplant, which in Canada can only be done in Toronto, Montreal, or Edmonton. In June, Carolyn and Josiah came to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto.
Leaving home to wait for a heart transplant is scary enough as it is, but Carolyn says it was even more daunting during the COVID-19 crisis.
“I felt isolated. The guidelines from COVID-19 meant that only I could be with him, so I was alone with my thoughts. I didn’t know what to expect,” says Carolyn.
Arriving at RMHC Toronto was surreal for Carolyn even though she had heard about the House from a previous job at McDonald’s and from a friend who had stayed before.
“McDonald’s was one of my favourite jobs. I remember asking customers to donate on McHappy Day, but not thinking about what the money was for. Then when my friend stayed here and praised the House, I still didn’t think about it. Now I really appreciate what RMHC Toronto donors make possible.”
Carolyn says staying at RMHC Toronto has improved her financial well-being during this unpredictable time.
“It is such a relief not having to worry about extra expenses piling up. Not only thanks to the accommodations, but also the food programs. I always know there is a warm and delicious dinner waiting for me. I couldn’t imagine going grocery shopping after a long day in the hospital.”
Having a safe and welcoming place to call home is especially comforting while everyone continues to navigate COVID-19.
“The processes at the House like wearing a mask in common areas and easy access to hand sanitizer makes me feel safe. I love talking to the friendly RMHC Toronto staff members from a distance. This makes a big difference because other than the doctors and nurses, RMHC Toronto staff are the only people I can socialize with.”
As circumstances continue to evolve due to COVID-19, now Carolyn, Aaron, and their older son, Emmett are all together at RMHC Toronto. The family is already looking forward to Josiah’s first Halloween and celebrating Thanksgiving together.
“My phone is always on loud for when the hospital calls saying there’s a heart, but we can’t live our lives waiting. Josiah is growing everyday, so we just take life one day at a time and enjoy every moment.”
As Josiah’s journey to a new heart continues, the family is grateful to be together.
“I can’t put the feeling of being here into words. RMHC Toronto saved our lives.”