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Multiple generations of metro Detroit family volunteer at Ronald McDonald House

Family donates time in honor of loved one it lost

For three generations, the Thompson family has been donating its time to the Ronald McDonald House.
For three generations, the Thompson family has been donating its time to the Ronald McDonald House.

DETROIT – The Ronald McDonald House of Detroit is a nonprofit organization that provides families with a comfortable place to stay while their kids are receiving treatment at Children's Hospital of Michigan.

For three generations, the Thompson family has been donating its time to the Ronald McDonald House. The family does it to honor the loss of a loved one, Jamie Lynn Miracle.

"When she was born I think we were told that we maybe would have her six weeks, and ended up having her for 16 years," said Tracy Thompson.

Jamie Lynn was born physically and mentally handicapped and spent much of her life at Children's Hospital of Michigan. Jamie Lynn's grandmother, Linda Thompson, was raising her.

"She spent the first three months of her life here at Children's Hospital," said Linda Thompson. "The first three months, I didn't know the house was here. I lived at the hospital. I washed off in the bathroom."

Linda Thompson was introduced to the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit while her granddaughter was receiving treatment.

Jamie Lynn died in 2004.  Two weeks later, Linda Thompson returned to the Ronald McDonald House of Detroit to begin volunteering.

She would often bring her granddaughter, Alexis Thompson along with her.

"She's been coming here since she was two weeks old, and when she was 2, she learned how to empty the trash," said Linda Thompson.

"It makes me feel real good to know that my whole family wants to be here to help," says Alexis Thompson.

Volunteering turned into a paid position at the house as weekend manager, until Linda became ill.

But keeping the family tradition alive, Linda Thompson's daughter, Tracy Thompson, took over Linda Thompson's spot as a weekend manager at the house.

"I work one weekend a month," said Tracy Thompson.  "I answer phones, check people in, check people out. I'm here if somebody needs to talk or wants to talk."

The Thompsons help in any way they can even if that just means listening.

"I love it because I know what they are going through because I went through it with my niece. That's why I say I will talk to them if they want to talk, but, I leave it up to the families," said Tracy Thompson.

Linda Thompson knows from personal experience how much it means to the families to have a home away from home while their children are receiving treatment.

"A lot of them call me mom, and I still have contact with a lot of them now," said Linda Thompson. "You have to go through it to really understand it."

Tracy Thompson urges people to help out at the Ronald McDonald House in any way they can.

"There are so many ways to volunteer, whether it is financially and whether you can't do it financially, you can come down and cook," said Tracy Thompson.

The Ronald McDonald House relies heavily on donations, and is always looking for volunteers. If you're interested in helping out, or want to learn more about the Ronald McDonald House, click here.