By Corky Mau
Home, Sweet Home
Rotarians Bring Healing to Families, Children
The red front door draws you in. Colorful, native plants adorn the walkway leading to a welcoming porch. What sets this house apart from nearby bungalows is the sign hanging over the porch: Oak Park Rotary House.
The home is a temporary refuge for families whose children are undergoing long-term medical treatment at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
One Saturday morning, Little Pocket resident and Rotarian Michael DiGrazia invites me to visit the house. As I arrive, several Rotarians are busy with yardwork and maintenance.
Oak Park Rotary House is a single-family, furnished two-bedroom residence for families with seriously ill children.
The Rotary House Foundation owns, operates and maintains the home. Hospital social workers select the families. The partnership is built on a common goal: helping families heal, physically and emotionally.
Lynette Andersen, a local attorney and Rotarian, says, “Rotary House is different from other patient homes like the Ronald McDonald House and the Kiwanis Family House. Rotary House is free to families. I’ve personally welcomed over 20 families since we opened in 2012. They incur so many expenses while their child is undergoing treatment. They’re grateful to have free lodging so close to the hospital.”
How can a family stay at Rotary House? They must have a child requiring treatment at the children’s hospital for at least six months. Families must live at least one hour from Sacramento.
I am fortunate to spend time with a guest from a small town in Northern California. To respect her privacy, she is nameless here. She’s a single, first-time mother whose 4-month-old had heart surgery. Now she and the baby are at UCD three or four days a week.
The kitchen table is covered with medications, breathing and feeding equipment. The child will probably need additional surgeries. For the most part, the woman goes through this alone.
Her story is touching. When I inquire about her well-being, she says, “I have to be strong. I’m hopeful my baby will get better.”
She’s grateful for the wonderful care the family receives from the medical team, grateful for a place to stay for the next six to eight months. Previously, she was at Ronald McDonald House. She prefers the privacy and serenity of Rotary House.
DiGrazia says, “I’m a parent. I can only imagine how difficult it would be if my child required constant medical attention. Knowing that Rotary can provide free lodging to these families reaffirms all the good things Rotary does in our local community.”
Rotary House was built by Rotarians, community volunteers and contractors who donated materials and labor. A blighted lot was transformed into a loving home and a beacon of hope to ill children and families.
For more information about Rotary House, visit oakparkrotaryhouse.com.
JULY 4TH PARADE
The Fourth of July Pocket Parade is back! The parade begins at 10 a.m., Monday, July 4, at the corner of Windbridge and South Land Park drives. Participants walk along Windbridge to Garcia Bend Park. City Council member Rick Jennings sponsors the event. For information, visit july4thpocketparade.com.
FREE ART CLASSES
Robbie Waters Pocket-Greenhaven Library staff lead two art classes this month. A pastels class is set for Wednesday, July 13. Two weeks later, the class features collage. Supplies are provided. No registration or experience necessary.
It’s not too late to sign up for the library’s summer reading program. Talk to staff or visit saclibrary.org/event/special-events/summer-reading.
Enjoy the smooth jazz tunes of Cynthia Douglas and the Sol Jazz Project on Friday, July 15, at Garcia Bend Park. Food trucks will be on site from 5 p.m. Or bring your own picnic, blankets and lawn chairs. The free concert starts at 6 p.m. Councilman Jennings sponsors the show.
Corky Mau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.