If you ever get the privilege of hearing Stephen Collins tell his family’s story, you’ll see how he swells with pride at the mention of his grandson, Andrew—a former RMHC Alberta baby.
But Stephen wasn’t always aware of our organization’s mission. “I didn’t have a clue what Ronald McDonald House Charities was all about,” Stephen admits.
Everything changed after Andrew was born prematurely at 24 weeks weighing 700 grams. Andrew and his family were airlifted from Lethbridge to Calgary where he spent the next five months receiving care in the NICU. During that time, Andrew and his mom—Stephen’s daughter—stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Calgary.
Stephen reflects on the joy of visiting the House with his wife to spend time with Andrew and his family. “Having the support of the House—to be able to return to the House after a stressful or traumatic day at the hospital—was absolutely heartwarming,” Stephen says. “Even meeting other families and sharing stories was incredible. My daughter was so grateful to be able to have that support. We look back at that and we’re so thankful.”
Today, Andrew is a healthy and happy six-year-old boy. While several years have passed since his family’s stay, Stephen continues to give back with gratitude for the care his grandson received at RMHC Alberta.
As a shuttle driver in Calgary, Stephen takes families to and from the hospital two days a week. He has also given his time to RMHC Alberta’s Thank-A-Thon and golf tournaments, and his family enjoys preparing Home for Dinner meals for everyone at the House. Whether lending a compassionate ear to overwhelmed families arriving in the city for the first time or providing a comforting meal after caregivers’ long day at the hospital, Stephen cherishes every opportunity he gets to experience “the gift of giving” as an RMHC Alberta volunteer.
When asked about RMHC’s impact, Stephen reflects on the common ground a shared experience gives everyone who is part of the Ronald McDonald House family. “You just mention RMHC and suddenly you have a story and history. It’s amazing to be able to share the emotion, pain, fear, and comfort with others,” he says. “It’s an instant ice-breaker.”
“Even people who have never heard the story of Ronald McDonald House Charities are so interested. They can’t believe the magic of the House and what it does,” Stephen remarks.