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When a child is sick, the family faces enormous hurdles. Having a home away from home during treatment can ease financial stress and provide emotional support. Ronald McDonald House provides that safety net for families – more than 2.45 million overnight stays worldwide in 2017 – including the Grove Road home in Greenville that has served nearly 12,000 families who come to the Upstate for care.

Erika Bateman, a 17-year-old Mauldin High School senior is a steady, dedicated volunteer at the Greenville house. Her commitment is personal – her family was welcomed at Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia when her brother was treated for cancer. After graduation, she plans to major in biology and hopes to be a doctor.

“My family and I have been volunteering for years,” Erika said.

Erika’s service includes anything that needs to be done, including cooking, cleaning, making copies, organizing and more.

“I felt like it was a great way to give back,” she said.

Sabra Bateman, Erika’s mother, said the entire family, including her husband, Jason, daughter, Ashley, and son, Braydon – who is now a cancer-free fourth grader at Mauldin Elementary School – is committed to the cause of Ronald McDonald House.

“We stayed at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House probably 40 times,” Sabra Bateman said. “It was huge. It was everything. It really allowed us to get the best treatment for Brayden and not be consumed with worry about the financial aspects.”

Sabra said the cost for a night’s stay at the house in Philadelphia was just $15 per night, as opposed to the $140 per night they would have expected to pay at a hotel. But the benefits are more than financial. She said the family atmosphere after a long day at the hospital made all the difference.

For about five years, the Bateman family cooked a meal for local house guests on the fourth Sunday of every month.

With the recent expansion of the house and the family’s busy schedule as children have gotten older, they are no longer able to do that regularly, but Erika has kept up with her volunteer time there. She even recruited her high school soccer team to make Easter baskets for residents last year and plans to repeat that program this year.

“I’ve cleaned,” Erika said. “I’ve worked the front desk. I try to help out whenever, wherever. After seeing what my family went through, it meant a lot to me. I understand what some of the families are going through. I can relate.”

Volunteers are essential to the operation of Ronald McDonald House. To learn about volunteer opportunities at the house or at the family room located at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital (formerly known as Greenville Health System’s Children’s Hospital), visit https://rmhc-carolinas.org/volunteer.

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