Responding to the Call

If you were a member of the LMR Class of ’19, you know that when you hear someone shout “G-Q” you respond “1-9”. This call and repeat started at our overnight retreat in Williamsburg. A time when we were all trying to get to know one another, had let down our guard and shared some vulnerabilities. The call became our anthem as we preceded through a year of growing, learning, supporting one another and our community. I feel so lucky to have been able to participate in this experience. Not only did I change as a person, but my networks and friendships expanded as well as my commitment to continue serving the Richmond Metro Community.

But this blog post isn’t about me. It is about the “Call” and “Response.” Remember when I said, if you are a member of the class of ’19 when you hear “G-Q,” you respond “1-9”?  Four weeks ago when the COVID-19 crisis hit the Richmond area, I was struggling with figuring out how I would continue to provide support services to families of hospitalized children in the Metro Richmond region in my role as Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities. In the very beginnings of our region’s social distancing, we had shut down meal volunteers. At RMHC Richmond, we have more than 125 volunteers a week come to our house on Monument Avenue to make hot meals for dinner nightly, breakfast on the weekends for our house guests, and lunches that are delivered to area NICU and PICU’s (160 weekly) for families inside hospital walls. It is one of our core service components and how we can help ensure that families are strong and ready to be part of their child’s medical team while we work to #keepfamiliesclose.

Long-time friend, house volunteer, and fellow LMR ’19 classmate Marilyn Milio knows first-hand how important food access is to our families. When spending long hours in the hospital, they often don’t take time to nourish themselves and/or cannot afford to continuously eat from hospital cafeterias and take out restaurants. Marilyn is a superhero – upon receiving the email from our volunteer coordinator about the suspension of services, she sprung into action. She put the call out on social media and our Class of ’19 GroupMe messaging page – asking our classmates to band together to support RMHC Richmond meals for families. Marilyn coordinated donations through the RMHC website and collected funds to purchase meals through locally-owned businesses to support our families who were staying at Ronald McDonald House and to provide a meal for families in the hospital. Marilyn called “G-Q” and more than 12 members of the LMR class of ’19 responded with donations to support families of hospitalized children. Thank you to all who participated in supporting families of hospitalized children during this unprecedented crisis and I look forward to returning the favor the next time a hear the resounding call from GQ19.

Kerry Blumberg
LMR Class of 2019
Executive Director, RMHC Richmond