“Being together as a family while staying close to Nicolas means the world to me.”

On Sept. 6, Stephanie Chaney and Josh Capizzano dropped their four-year-old daughter, Olivia, off at her first day of junior kindergarten. Two-year-old Amelia was there to see her big sister off as well.

But Olivia wasn’t going to the school around the corner from the family’s house in Shelburne, Ont. She was attending the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto School.

That’s because just 17 days before, Stephanie had given birth prematurely in Toronto to the family’s third child, a son named Nicolas Raphael.

“Thankfully I was in Toronto for the birth because I don’t think Nicolas would have made it if we were at home. He weighed two pounds, less than a pair of shoes,” she says.

Soon after the birth on August 20, Stephanie was anxious to see her girls. That’s because the family had been separated for 10 days while she awaited the arrival of Nicolas in Toronto. Stephanie knew Olivia and Amelia needed their mom.

“It was hard for me to leave Nicolas, but I needed to see my girls. They were with their grandmother, but I felt guilty about the change and confusion they were experiencing,” she says.

The guilt Stephanie felt went away on August 24, 2018. That’s when the family moved together into RMHC Toronto.

“Being together as a family while staying close to Nicolas means the world to me. Recently, I was able to hold him for the first time. I need to be close by for those precious opportunities.”

And, Olivia is thriving at RMHC Toronto School. “This school will be a great way for her to transition into school when we get home. She gets lots of attention from the teachers here and she can’t wait to go every day,” she says.

“Throughout this process, we’ve all bonded so much more, especially Olivia and Amelia. They turn to each other for comfort and while they are with us, they know everything is going to be okay.”

Staying close to Nicolas has allowed the family to begin making memories as a family of five. “Olivia beat me to reading Nicolas his first book! It was an unexpected but sweet moment.”

The family has made other memories by attending programs at the House like woodworking. “We’ve made so many wooden animals and we’ll be keeping them forever.”

Nicolas is growing every day. And while he now weighs four pounds, the family expects that they will still need to stay at RMHC Toronto over the holidays.

“It will be a Christmas present if we get to go home before the holidays, but until then, RMHC Toronto gives us a place like home.”

Update: At the request of the family, we share the sad news that Nicolas Capizzano passed away on March 26, 2019. The Capizzano family honoured his legacy at RMHC Toronto by turning on the star in our Tranquility Garden for 24 hours.