Ronald McDonald House invites community members inside


Lillie Bodie

The Ronald McDonald House of Huntington opened its doors to the public to show them what happens inside.

Faces lit up and hearts were warmed Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Ronald McDonald House of Huntington’s annual Light the House that Love Built.  Santa Claus, with the help of all attending, lit up the Christmas lights on the Ronald McDonald House behind Cabell Huntington Hospital, proceeding an evening of appetizers and conversation amongst volunteers, staff and residents of the non-profit organization.

Annette Chappelle, volunteer of Ronald McDonald House since 1988, said the house has always been a part of her life and was a base of an act of kindness.

“When they started building this house my grandson was only four, and every morning we came by the house and watched them build the foundation and say good morning to everyone,” Chappelle said. “And I knew the house was a place where good was going on and I wanted to be a part of that so I came over and applied for a job as the housekeeper and I got it.”

Chappelle said while working at the house she met an abundance of people with different stories.

“I met more wonderful people here from residents and workers,” Chappelle said. “And today seeing a set of twins that were born as tiny little things grow into young adults at the age of 18 is amazing.”

Chappelle said the annual Light the House event is to give back to the people who support and help the Ronald McDonald House.

“This event is to show appreciation to the community, because the community and people all over everywhere support this house, and it’s just wonderful with the good that’s done here,” Chappelle said. “Ronald McDonald house gives so much from the staff and volunteers, which is already a part of being in the Christmas spirit.”

Jaye Toler, director of development at the Ronald McDonald House of Huntington, said the event is unique to the house on behalf of the opportunity it gives the public to have an inside look on what exactly happens behind closed doors.

“Light the House is a special event because it offers the community an opportunity to come in and see Ronald McDonald House for themselves,” Toler said. “Most of them know the overall mission is to support sick children, but they may not know how we accomplish that. It also serves as an opportunity for our ‘graduates’ to come back and visit. We are always so grateful to see them growing up and thriving. That is a really special part of the event for our staff.”

Toler said the event helps build relationships and conversations between current and past residents of RMH, which helps them during their stay.

“When current guests see supporters of the House in attendance, I think they feel that love,” Toler said. “And they also get to meet families who were in their shoes not too long ago and doing much better now. I think that provides some confidence to them.”

Kimberly Hudson Brooks said the Ronald McDonald House means the world to her because of her daughter, who was born only weighing three pounds and having to spend three weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“We declined the offer being so close to home but I just felt like when you have a child that is sick it’s nice to have a place to call home,” Brooks said. “So being able to help when I can is awesome and I love it.”

Lillie Bodie can be contacted at [email protected].