IDAHO FALLS – EastIdahoNews.com brings you Hometown Helpers in our community. We want to spotlight a firefighter, police officer, city worker, or other people who quietly keep our cities and counties running.
This week we feature Lori Priest, Director of Community Engagement for Ronald McDonald House Charities Idaho. Ronald McDonald House Charities is a non-profit organization.
“The favorite part of my day is knowing that I’m doing something that helps someone in a very difficult situation,” Priest said.
Priest has been working at his job for two and a half years. She walks into the Ronald McDonald Family Room and helps people who are going through a tough time every day. The Family Room opened in September 2019 and is located within the walls of the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
“The Family Room is a home away from home for parents who have pediatric patients here at EIRMC. We are open 9am-9pm, 365 days a year. We provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for families when they need a meal,” she said.
The living area includes four bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, laundry room and more. This is a place that provides a family environment for families with sick children in the hospital so that they are just steps away from them. Families can eat something, take a shower, do laundry and spend the night.
“We’re just happy to be here for the families when they need us,” Priest said.
Families staying in the family room can live in Idaho Falls or travel from another area. Priest said a Rexburg family used the family room for nearly 80 days.
The family room means a lot to Priest, especially since she herself went through a personal ordeal as a parent years ago.
“I had a very sick child. My daughter had botulism and we were in the hospital with her for five weeks,” Priest said. “The things I learned (taught me to) take nothing for granted. (Now) I can empathize and be understanding for the parents who are here (in the family room).
The story ended well with Priest’s daughter, Kelsey. She is now 31 and has identical twins with her husband.
Priest’s experience guides the work she does.
“I learned a lot through something difficult and I’m happy to be able to use it in the later years of my career, trying to help lighten someone else’s load,” Priest said. .
Priest said she is grateful to the community for Family Room’s support.
“I would like to express our gratitude to our community. They were kind enough to bring in donations of snacks, water bottles, and all kinds of blankets. These are all donations from people in our community who may have walked the path with a sick child or just care about people going through a tough time,” she said. “We often say, we see the best part of humanity because people care and they take the time and they walk through our doors and they just want to give love and kindness to those who are here .”
Priest shows every day that she is a Hometown Helper by making a difference and serving families in need.
If you would like to learn more about the Ronald McDonald Family Room, click here.
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