Hunter Hero: Friends of Ronald McDonald House chairperson Julie Parsons.

10/03/2019 Posted by admin

A friend indeed: Julie Parsons, chairperson of Friends of Ronald MacDonald House, lends an ear to families with sick chidlren. Picture: Simone De Peak.JULIE PARSONSVOLUNTEERWhen kids are having treatment for life-threatening or serious illnesses at John Hunter Hospital, the go to is Ronald McDonald House. A place that volunteers like Julie Parsons makewarm and inviting.
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Ms Parsons is the chairperson of Friends of Ronald McDonald House, a community organisation of 17 volunteers who raise money for the house and have recently passed the $100,000 mark in donations.

A volunteer for the past 21 years, theretired school photographerhas seen families at their very best and very worst. She could sympathise with thembecause she hadbeen in a similar situation. Five years ago, her grandson was born at 26 weeks.

“I actually became one of the families on the other side,” Ms Parsonssaid.

“I could then relate more to what they were going through.”

Sponsored by fast food giant McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald House can remind just about every kid of one of life’s guilty pleasures –junk food. But Ms Parsonssaid the kids only have one thing on their mind when they walk through the door – the toy room.

“We’ve got plenty of happy toys there for them to play with,” she said.

The kids make a beeline for the toy room – while parents are still juggling luggage – which houses PlayStation’s and statues of fast food icon, Ronald McDonald.

Ms Parsons said a big part of her job was spending time with families and listening, if that was what they needed.

“Sometimes, people just want to sit down and have a quiet talk …Some people don’t want to talk at all,” she said.

“[The job is] not to offer advice or think that you’re going to fix everything, but just to be there for the families.”

As part of the 17 volunteers of Friends of Ronald McDonald House, Ms Parsonsplayed a role in raising $100,000 for the House through various fundraising events, which she described as “very exciting”.

Part of the money raised has gone to new lounges in the family area, and a sponsored room in the house.

“We can actually see what our contributions have gone to,” she said.

“The group’s actions have been recognised by the community, with the Friends being nominated for Lake Macquarie’s Volunteer Group of the Year award,” she said.

But despite appreciating the nomination, Ms Parsonssaid the group do what they do for the House, not for recognition.

“I can vouch for everybody in the group of Friends of Ronald McDonald House [that we’re] not there for accolades,” she said. “We get as much out of being there as what we hope the families get out of us helping them.”

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