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THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE JUNIOR LEAGUE OF ROANOKE VALLEY

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THE

STAR

The STAR is published three times annually by the Junior League of Roanoke Valley. No reproductions in any form are allowed without written permission. Designed by Evolve Creative, Inc. and published by Wedding Planner Magazine Š2018

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MEET THE EDITOR BOARD FROM • • • • • •

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RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE SUSTAINER PROJECT COMES FULL CIRCLE

This article originally ran in Volume 1 Issue 2 of STAR Magazine. We are running it again in honor of the Ronald McDonald House's 35th anniversary this year.

BY: ERIKA LOVEGREEN

When Sustainer Cindy Smith read a magazine about an organization that helps families during difficult times, she understood their pain. Losing her mother to cancer at a young age is what Cindy said inspired her most to want to bring the Ronald McDonald House to the Roanoke Valley.

I met Cindy on a rainy day at Sweet Donkey Coffee House. It was very crowded, so we wandered upstairs and thankfully a kind woman with her three-monthold son offered us seats at her table. Cindy began to describe for me that when she read that magazine about Ronald McDonald Houses, about 32 years ago, there were only 10-12 locations in the country, all in big cities. Roanoke seemed like a long-shot. The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to provide families a “home-away-from-home” while a child is receiving treatment for an illness or is recovering from injury. Cindy thought this mission meshed well with the Junior League of Roanoke Valley (JLRV), and after speaking with other members Cindy said it simply “mushroomed from there.” Local McDonald’s managers were instantly enthusiastic about the project. Carilion, which was Roanoke Memorial at the time, also agreed that it was a great service to patrons of the hospital, even offering to pay for the project. Despite the early momentum, there were challenges that quickly arose, including re-zoning of the property they desired. “We had to learn to navigate the political landscape of Roanoke,” Cindy told me. “We didn’t let this stop us. We petitioned the entire neighborhood, canvassing with fliers and information about the benefits of the Ronald McDonald House.” But, it didn’t stop there. McDonald’s Headquarters needed to approve the project.

JLRV Sustainer Cindy Smith

Carilion flew Cindy and JLRV President Beverley Burleson to Illinois to meet with Corporate Executives. “We knew we could not go unless we were prepared. That’s League training right there,” said Cindy. The two presented all the plans for the project, answering

Photography by Marissa Yi

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RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE authentic McDonald’s burger lunch, the corporate team was impressed and decided to back the project. “We were so excited. We had to hold the first ever summer session so that the League could vote to support the project,” Cindy told me. “Once it was approved, and we had the support of McDonald’s, Carilion, and most of the neighborhood, we went to City Council. We packed it so full, members were standing in the hallways. I was the spokeswoman. Talk about developing women.” As Cindy and I were wrapping up our interview, the mother of the three-month-old sitting beside us interrupted us. She was holding back tears and thanked Cindy. She began to tell us that a few months earlier her son was a NICU baby, and she stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. Her name is Allison Duncan. “During unexpected times and long days when you don’t know what life is going to look like, the house offers a place to get away. I felt like by being at the Ronald

McDonald House I had rare moments to approach life again,” she explained to us. “To see people from out-ofstate who could never afford to stay nearby the hospital, the house is a saving grace. It made me want to support it for the rest of my life.” The Ronald McDonald House was officially opened on May 5, 1984. The JLRV has continued to support it throughout the years with an early endowment, building a playground, and volunteer spot jobs. “When we went around to the neighborhood, we told everyone that illness knows no boundaries. When it was done, we dubbed it as the house that love built,” said Cindy. Having the opportunity to hear directly and unexpectedly from someone impacted by this League supported project made dedicating three years of her life worth it to Cindy. She appreciates Co-Chairs Linda Lundsford and Marsha Combs for all their support during that time.

JLRV and the Ronald McDonald House make a difference in Roanoke

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DECEMBER GATHERINGS

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DECEMBER GATHERINGS

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Profile for Junior League of Roanoke Valley

Winter 2018 Vol. 4 Issue 1  

Junior League of Roanoke Valley's Winter 2018 issue

Winter 2018 Vol. 4 Issue 1  

Junior League of Roanoke Valley's Winter 2018 issue

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