Hibblers and cookies

A Parent’s Perspective: Chocolate Chip Cookies Prompt Memories Of Ronald McDonald House Respite

Ronald McDonald House Charities hosted Jim and Kathleen Hibbler, while they cared for their daughter, Elizabeth, our new marketing intern, during her organ transplant recovery. “To this day, the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies always triggers my memory of the love and nurturing we experienced at the Ronald McDonald House,” Kathleen says.

Jim and Kathleen Hibbler’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, received a life-saving liver transplant on Oct. 1, 2008, at Texas Children’s Hospital. Houston’s Ronald McDonald House was “a welcome respite, away from the constant bustle and beeps of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU),” Kathleen says.

The Hibblers

The Hibblers, Jim (from left), Kathleen and Elizabeth, after Elizabeth’s liver transplant surgery

After a long day at the hospital, sitting down to a warm meal together is a moment of peace and comfort for families. The couple had contributed to the family meal program through the Junior League of Louisville. “Little did I know at the time, that I’d be sitting on the receiving end of that same generosity,” Kathleen says.

Each house has common living spaces to foster a feeling of familiarity and community. “There was a nice lounge next to the kitchen that made Ronald McDonald House feel like home,” Kathleen says. In the lounge, the couple would catch up on the news or read a magazine and escape the stressful situation for a while.

The thought of a good night’s sleep, only an elevator ride away, was a huge comfort. “Rooms there were not always guaranteed, but we knew if one was available, that one of us could get a nice shower, hot food, and upgrade our sleeping arrangements from a recliner to a private bed,” Kathleen recalls. These moments of brief relief evoked feelings of gratitude that will last a lifetime.

“We are forever grateful for the quiet, the nurturing of us, the laundry facilities, the clean showers, the warm bed to lay our weary heads,” Kathleen says.

Every aspect of the Ronald McDonald House experience, down to the travel-size toiletries, instilled a sense of hope for Kathleen. “Sample sizes are short lived, they don’t last, therein the metaphor became a hopeful one for me, one that helped me to believe that ‘this too shall pass’…and it did.”

When Elizabeth healed, she went on to spearhead a toiletries drive through her high school student council. Now, she serves as our marketing intern here in Atlanta.

All of Ronald McDonald House Charities efforts help Kathleen realize how grateful she is, now 10 years later. “After three months taking care of our daughter in the PICU, Ronald McDonald House was instrumental in rejuvenating our minds, bodies and spirits during the most stressful time of our lives.”