What that meant was this: Dan and I moved into the apartment downstairs at the RMH to serve as kind of the RA's of the house. I worked in the office Sunday-Thursday from 5:30-8:00pm doing office stuff, then from 8:00pm-8:00am we were "on call" in case of emergency. "Emergency" meant everything from evacuating the house when the fire alarm went off (and wouldn't stop going off for 2 hours) with a house full of guests- half of those not speaking English. It meant answering our door 5 days after Elizabeth was born to find a family in crisis who needed us as much as my newborn did. It meant answering the door at 2 in the morning when the Coke Machine took someone's money and didn't give them a Coke... yep, and that was when the sign went up on the door saying "Stop! Only knock if this is a real emergency." Each night I made sure the house was properly shut down for the evening, and did rounds as were necessary.
What it also meant was 3 and a half years of loving people when they were most vulnerable. Teenage girls who had just become moms... and moms of preemies at that. Parents whose son had just had his leg amputated... and continued to come back for check-ups and who wanted to talk basketball with Dan. Talking to a mom one night (during the MTV VMAs, actually) who was sobbing asking why God would make some little ones suffer. Seeing a mom with a 4 day old baby collapse when she got deemed a "cancer family"... her 3 year old was diagnosed with leukemia at noon the day her brand-new baby was born. And the cool thing? That newborn baby was the only one who was a perfect bone marrow match to be a donor for his older brother. We also got to play Santa Claus for families on Christmas Eve... we got to have a picture taken with Ronald and tell him we were pregnant (sadly, that ended up being one of our miscarriages) and have him tell us "congrats on the Little McNugget!"... we had story after story of amazing moments. Hard ones, sad ones, amazing ones.
And today, I got to go back. Granted, I've been back multiple times over the last 4 years. But today was different- today I got a sneak preview of the new house. When we lived there, the house served 17 families. Now, it will be able to house 35. Seriously. What the junk. The house is spectacular. It's beautiful. It's perfectly decorated. I teared up the entire time I was given the tour.
But the nuances I saw were ones that made me thrilled... not as a general "visitor" of the house... but as the old Night Manager.
A trash and recycling island... complete with "normal" sized bags that are actually functional to take out. The old bins were so large that as they got full it was too cumbersome to take out.
Lockers for the families to put their grocery items in... so no one can accuse another of stealing their Mountain Dew. Not that that ever happened... but if it did... I'm just sayin'....
A beautiful spot for Volunteers to come and get their nametags and leave their things...
not having to do this in Abby's office like they used to....
Oh, sweet magical work room. Complete with shelving, security monitors, and copier.
Not to be confused with the old copier CLOSET which barely held, well, the copier.
A COT CLOSET. Seriously. Beautiful. Rather than trying to remember which room had the extra cots... and having to enter those rooms to find them...
Storage. Beautiful storage.
AN ICE MACHINE. (I'm misty-eyed just looking at it.)
While this might look like Chacy's office... it's not. It's now Chacy's counseling area...
SEPARATE from her office. Seriously... it's the little things.
A comfy chair... and new breastpump. In the LACTATION ROOM... no longer the "breastpump room".
Unreal. The house seems to be ready to go... perfectly situated for all the families that will benefit from it. And do the above touches make it NECESSARY to care for families who have children in the hospital? Maybe, maybe not. What they do allow is for the staff to function easier, to not trip over each other, and to provide the touches that make staying at the RMH so special... so different from a hotel.
Can't get the picture of what the house looks like from my random finds? Well, I'll show you some of the other treats...
Gorgeous bedrooms. Seriously, gorgeous.
(And all of us commented that our rooms at home never quite look so put together.)
Beautiful common spaces.
(This room is where we watched the ball drop on New Years Eve, 2006... just before we moved out.
It looks a lot prettier now... and it was pretty then!)
These are glimpses of why I will always love the RMH. We left when Elizabeth needed me as her Night Manager a little more urgently than I was able to provide both for her and the families of the RMH. Now as she gets older, I want her to be involved with the House where she was born. I want her to see what it's like to get to touch families who need a little more love during tough times. And I want her to know some of the people who I love so much.
It truly is The House That Love Built.
(some of my fellow staff members from Back In The Day... I'll be celebrating with them and the rest of the staff at the Ribbon Cutting and Open House Sunday, Sept 12, 3-5pm. 419 S. Hawthorne Road.)