Jullisa and Nancy at the house take a photo in the family room



Expectations. Life has a way of keeping us interested, often delivering the experiences we least expect. For Jullisa, a college senior getting ready to finish her degree in Public Health, the path through these last few years have brought more twists and turns than she could have imagined.

When her mother, Nancy, became pregnant, she expected to see her new baby sister in nine months. Only 24 short weeks later, Nancy had to be rushed from Nogales, AZ to Banner UMC Tucson. The baby was on its way prematurely, and critical care was necessary immediately. After an expert and successful delivery, baby Jewelianna, arrived weighing barely more than 1 pound. As her situation remained precarious at best, the family wanted nothing more than to remain close and find strength in each other.

2015-06-17 003Nancy stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for more than five months, where Jullisa could stay with her often, and dad could visit on the weekends when he didn’t have to work. While at the Ronald McDonald House, Jullisa, who experienced the personal support, smiles, hugs, and encouraging conversations offered by every volunteer, said, “Every little thing helps.” With a fortuitous twist to the road this time, Nancy and Jewelianna were able to go home in May, just as Jullisa was getting out of school. “Going home was a dream come true after so many months of highs and lows.”

Jullisa pledged to volunteer every week at the RMHC once she returned to Tucson in September, and, once again, she had to toss her expectations out the window. “It’s so different than other volunteer jobs,” Jullisa explained. “You get to see the impact you’re having on the families and they tell you how grateful they are for everything [the Ronald McDonald House] is providing to them.” She found a hands-on, interactive role as a House volunteer, even putting her skills as a Spanish-English translator to good use.

We have many volunteers at the RMHC who can, as Jullisa puts it, “understand both sides.” Volunteers like Erin, Jeanne, Alicia, and of course Jullisa provide a level of care and empathy that truly helps families feel like they are at home – that they belong.

It is because of them that there are certain things that families can always expect when they come to the Ronald McDonald House, things they can depend upon when the world seems so uncertain – things like hope, healing, and happiness.