One less thing: Efforts help feed families with sick children

She saw what her brother and sister-in-law went through when their child was sick and wanted to give back to the organization that helped them so much.

Jeanie Underwood’s nephew was diagnosed with Fanconi Syndrome, a disease of the kidney, in the late 1980s. His family were frequent guests at at the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis, which is near Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, when her nephew was receiving treatment.

Families who stay at the home are offered a bed and often meals are served as part of the stay. Families who stay at the home are asked for a $15 donation, but parents who cannot make the suggested donation are not turned away, said Kelly Thien, chief of advancement officer at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana.

Underwood saw what a difference something small, such as a hot meal, could mean to worried parents dealing with a hospitalized child.

“It is devastating for families,” she said.

For the past two years, she has worked with her coworkers at the RE/MAX office of Greenwood to furnish families staying at the home with a hot meal.

“We have all had family or friends who have gone to Riley,” she said.

About four times a year she and her coworkers team up to put together the meal. They cook it at home and bring it to the waiting families at the Ronald McDonald House, she said.

While doing it, she gets stories that reinforce why this has been chosen as a cause for her, she said.

For example, she heard of families who have a child who get treatment at Riley while their home is in Evansville. The child’s parents would take turns staying with the child, with at least one parent commuting to Evansville and back daily.

She saw what a small difference not having to think about a basic need such as food helped, she said.

“These folks are just like you and me, they work hard for their living,” she said. “It is taking a bigger need off of their shoulders,” she said.

Often families cite the home cooked meal at the end of a long day staying at the hospital with a sick child as being one thing a parent does not have to worry about, said Thien.

“More than anything else we hear from our families is how much they appreciate coming back to the house for a home cooked meal,” she said.

“I get the reward of furnishing, hot, fresh food,” she said.

At a glance


The Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis only asks for a $15 donation from families who stay at their house.

The charity accepts home cooked meals from volunteers and other donations.

To see how you can help or to sign up to bring a meal, go to

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2770.