I’ve only recently had the opportunity to learn about and spend some time at RMHCNA, but it has already been a moving and eye-opening experience. The people here are going through hardships I can’t even imagine, each family facing a different struggle, but I am struck by the happiness that is also felt here. I know it must be hard-won. Warmly lit rooms and friendly murals made me smile when I first came here, but it was the people who really made the atmosphere so welcoming. The smiles are infectious.

RMHCNA provides families with community and sanctuary. Every happy moment is precious and each aspect of this House is made with that thought in mind. From the cozy library and game room, to the lovingly baked goods, to every donated toy in the Magic Room, the House’s first priority is giving kids those happy moments that simply let them be kids. And from what I’ve seen, they are succeeding.

The kids definitely have the run of the House, filling the place with their own imaginations, the way only kids can. Whether they are busy in the costume cupboard finding the perfect princess costume, making Play-Doh creations to show to the staff or simply making up games with the different toys around the House, the kids seem to be constantly in a state of activity. Their adventures don’t go unnoticed. From talking to some of the staff and volunteers, it’s clear to me that everyone shares something of the kids’ experiences.

Volunteers feel rewarded for the time they spend here, every note of laughter a gift in itself. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why RMHCNA gets the support of so many different parts of the Edmonton community. I was amazed to see all of the different ways in which the House brings the greater community together, whether it’s through small businesses, school groups or simply passionate individuals. The House provides the city with a heart.

I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of the House. It does so much and I still have a lot of it left to experience. I’m looking forward to learning all the ways I can help out in the next few months and to meeting more of the people who make this House a home.