Jon Kirgis arrived at the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City by himself after his wife Michelle prematurely gave birth to fraternal twins Phoenix and Oliver. Michelle was recovering at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital and didn’t expect to be discharged for a few more days. “I was filling out paperwork, getting a tour of the Ronald McDonald House, and suddenly I was in a new setting away from everyone. Little did I know that this place was actually going to bring us closer together as a family,” said Jon.
Michelle remembers walking through the Ronald McDonald House doors feeling lost at first. She and Jon were hours away from their home and had their two year old daughter Faith also to care for. “We were lucky to have my mom, Lynn, come give us a break when we needed to go back home or be at the hospital,” said Michelle. “I get emotional every time I talk about this, but it meant the world to us knowing my mom and Faith were in good hands at the Ronald McDonald House.” Faith spent hours in the backyard playhouse, watching movies with Grandma Lynn, and introducing herself to everyone at the House. To Faith, the Ronald McDonald House was her home while her brother and sister were getting better in the hospital.
The Kirgis family stayed a total of 114 nights at the Ronald McDonald House. Each night created a deeper bond to the charity. “We had a lot of people help us along the way. The staff was absolutely amazing and were always there for us,” said Michelle. Jon compared the House services to that of a counselor, “Of course we had shelter, food, and every physical thing we needed during our stay. But one thing that we didn’t know the House would provide us was a support system. Families, staff, and volunteers always right there with us during the highs and lows. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”