New program gives parents a chance to socialize

One of the many benefits of staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto is the opportunity for families to meet and make friends with each other. Their shared understanding of what it means to have a seriously ill child offers them comfort and strength they can’t easily find elsewhere.

To encourage these kinds of connections, RMHC Toronto recently launched a program called Coffee Talk. Held every Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m., Coffee Talk gives parents a chance to relax and socialize with each other while their children have supervised fun nearby.

“In a recent needs assessment, parents told us that they wanted a designated time to step away from their kids and get to know other parents,” says Ami Armagost, Programs Coordinator. “With all the stresses in their day, it helps to have one hour set aside to just enjoy a cup of coffee and some adult conversation.”

Coffee Talk has been well attended, with up to 20 adults participating each night since it launched in May. The focus is on creating a casual, comfortable atmosphere so conversation can flow organically, says Kayla Slegers, Programs Coordinator.

“We chat about anything and everything, from exchanging restaurants to try near the hospital to discussing the procedure their child had that day.”

The Programs team also plans low-key activities each week to add some fun. Coffee Talk so far has included scrapbooking, ice coffee in the Tranquility Garden, giant Jenga and cookie baking. A session about essential oils was especially popular, and Paint Night is coming up soon.