For Sheri Raike’s family, RMHCNA has been a stress-reliever. For her, the House does not feel like a hotel, and for that she is thankful. At a hotel, a family can never be at home. Parents must constantly make sure the kids are quiet, and that the neighbours aren’t disturbed. For Sheri’s children, RMHCNA is home.
Sheri’s two-year-old daughter, Zoey, was born with many health complications. She was born prematurely, had oxygen issues, bowel problems and numerous other concerns. All these issues added up to big problems, and doctors struggled to diagnose her. At least once a month, the Raike family travelled from Fort McMurray to Edmonton in search of answers for Zoey.
Zoey was readmitted to the hospital in October and the family found a home in RMHCNA during the first week of November. Staying in a hotel for the months that they’ve been at the House would have been financially devastating for the family.
This is their second time staying at RMHCNA. Here, Zoey and her older brother, Tristan, can run, play and just be kids. Sheri is grateful for the sense of community. Between the family’s two stays, they have built lasting relationships with other RMHCNA families. The House allows Sheri to have a social life too, with common spaces helping her to decompress and visit with families sharing similar experiences. Through the Rejuvenate Program Sheri has experienced moments of relaxation from haircuts, massages, and manicures provided by community members.
RMHCNA provided invaluable programs to the Raike family when they needed it the most. Meals that Mend offers the biggest help, relieving the family of the stress of making meals at the end of busy days. Through the Education Program, Tristan started kindergarten and the field trips have provided special outings for both of the kids, letting them enjoy experiences that they wouldn’t normally get to have.
Through the House Sheri became a big fan of the Edmonton Fire Department. “The Firegirls have become a part of our family, taking both Tristan and Zoey under their wing,” she says.
Sheri was also impressed with Edmonton’s professional sports teams and their connection to RMHCNA. Seeing the athletes from the Edmonton Eskimos and the Edmonton Oilers taking an interest in her kids has been great. “They’ve got a lot of things they could be doing with their time, but the fact that they’re taking time with our sick kids and playing with them means a lot to us,” says Sheri.
The Shuttle Program has also meant a lot to the family. Tristan loves taking the shuttle, pretending it’s a rocket ship. All the drivers are in on his game.
Zoey loves to ride around in the toy cars, visiting everyone in the House and saying her hellos. The Magic Room is another favourite. On special occasions, the kids can step into a room painted with brightly coloured murals, through a child-sized door. Toys and games of all types and for all ages line the room from floor to ceiling. Thanks to donors, the kids can choose any toy they want. Their smiles are magical.
Zoey has now been diagnosed with global delay syndrome and dysmorphism. Doctors believe she still suffers from an unknown condition, but for now they call it the Zoey syndrome.