Daniel and Jennifer Sheltrown are the parents to three boys: Asher, age 8, Gavin, age 6, and Bennett, age 1. Their journey to the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill (RMH) began when Jennifer was pregnant with Bennett. “At our anatomy scan, we were told he had a problem with his bladder and kidney. When he was born, he got the diagnosis of PUV (Posterior urethral valves).”
The Sheltrown family knew that when Bennett was born, they would need to stay in the hospital, located an hour and a half away from their home. It was then that they were introduced to the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill by a friend who had also utilized the House. Jennifer said her first impression of the House was surprising. “It was very nice and way nicer than I would have ever thought. I also was blown away by how much there was and how nice EVERYONE was.”
During their stay at RMH, the Sheltrown family made relationships with staff, volunteers, and other families. “The staff love what they are doing, and it shows in their interaction with you. There were families that were there for months and in no way shape or form would be able to be so close to their loved ones if it wasn’t for the RMH.” Jennifer said that one of her favorite memories at the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill was seeing the close connections made within the House. “There was a family that made a close connection to one of the mother/daughter volunteer groups due to them being there for so long. Again, it shows that everyone from the staff to the volunteers are there to genuinely help you.”
The Sheltrown family also visited the Ronald McDonald Family Room, a hospitality suite inside UNC Children’s Hospital. “Having that room available made it possible for both of us to be with Bennett when he would go for tests or procedures. It made the hospital visits more enjoyable for the kids. Being in the hospital comes with extra expenses that can add up, and the ability to get a meal or a snack or just a break from the hospital room helps immensely. Every worker was amazing. They all were kind and willing to help in any way they could.”
Jennifer said that without the House, their family would not have been able to remain together. Being far from home would have forced Dan and their older two sons to stay home and only visit every few days. With the alternative being a hotel stay, the financial burden would have been heavy. Because of the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, Dan, Jennifer, Asher and Gavin were all able to stay near Bennett and truly be a part of his journey. It allowed Jennifer to be their physically and emotionally for all three of her sons.
The Sheltrown family would like people that have never stayed at the House to know that the House is nice, fun, and relaxing after long days at the hospital. “Don’t hesitate. It is close to the hospital. The staff make you feel right at home and there is just a feeling of… they are there to help you.”
“The House means there is a place that can help my family through some tough times and a place where there is just one less thing and one less stressor that I have to deal with, while dealing with a bad part of life. The Ronald McDonald House allows families to be close to their loved ones that are in the hospital.”
The Sheltrown family were so impacted by the programs and services offered at the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill that they wanted to give back. “If it wasn’t for the RMH we wouldn’t have been together as a family. We know there are people experiencing hospital stays now, and we want to make sure they have something to help make their stay feel a little more like home. We want to help the House continue to give back to the community, and we think this is an amazing program.”