How Yelp’s Home Away from Home comfort-food block party supports guests of the Reno Ronald McDonald House.
WRITTEN BY RACHEL GATTUSO AND CAMIE YOKOTE
Rhondda Saunders’ first priority was her daughter, Ajia. The Bishop, Calif., teenager was involved in a car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury, requiring her to stay in the Renown Children’s Hospital ICU.
Rhondda didn’t have time to process the details of where she would stay and what she would eat and how the bills would get sorted. In what felt like minutes, she found herself in Reno with her critically injured daughter. Rhondda and Ajia’s story is a common one at Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Nevada: a family with a medical tragedy who just needs a place to stay in order to tend to a child.
These stories are the reason behind Yelp’s Home Away from Home, a foodie block party at Toll Brothers Regency at Damonte Ranch on June 27 that features culinary treasures for attendees to discover while they make their way through the luxury model home park. Now in its second year, event organizers expect to welcome even more attendees than in 2017, thanks to a robust field of culinary partners and libation purveyors. Proceeds from the event support the charity’s work to keep families close during their children’s hospitalizations. But the best part is that the generosity of those involved makes this 21-and-older event free to attend. Organizers simply encourage a $20 donation be made at the door to help families who need the Reno Ronald McDonald House.
Tim Meevasin prepares paella at the Reno Ronald McDonald House for families
The event is closely tied to the charity’s chef program — an opportunity for members of the community to cook meals for the families staying there. And it’s heavy on the comfort food, with nine chefs and caterers recreating recipes that remind them of their own families.
BJ’s Nevada Barbecue provided ribs to the families of the Reno Ronald McDonald House.
“When we talked about ways Yelp could help the House celebrate its 30th anniversary through a new event, we kept coming back to the mission of the house, keeping families close,” says Michael Tragash, Yelp Reno’s community director and certified eater. “We then talked about what makes the house a home, and food kept coming up. Food is meant to be shared and enjoyed; it provides comfort in difficult times and reminds us of wonderful times surrounded by family and friends. And, so, comfort food became the heart of the event and the platform for sharing family recipes and memories from several amazing local businesses.”
This year, each of the nine chefs and caterers will prepare dishes that evoke memories of his or her family. They even prepared the recipes for the guests at the Reno Ronald McDonald House, thanks to a donation of ingredients from Whole Foods.
“It’s been amazing to discover that the chefs participating this year have their own special memories of Ronald McDonald Houses, and the friends and families in their worlds who have needed to stay in them,” says Brock Marquez, executive director at the Reno Ronald McDonald House.
Jay Rathmann, owner of BJ’s Nevada Barbecue, prepares delicious dishes at Reno’s Ronald McDonald House
Brisket from BJ’s Nevada Barbecue
Corn muffins from BJ’s Nevada Barbecue
Marquez says it’s always heartwarming to hear how the charity has helped families, regardless of which House they’ve stayed in. For the Saunderses, staying at the Reno House was critical.
"If it weren't for the [House], things would've been 38 days of hell. You can only sleep on a chair in the lobby for so long before they kick you out," Rhondda says.
She adds that she would have slept in the hospital lobby and bathed in the bathroom had she not come in contact with the Reno House.
"Being close like that was like having a house right next door," she says.
Through the generosity of the charity’s donors, she was able to rest, eat, clean her clothes, and find brief moments of respite. After 38 grueling, emotional days in the hospital, Rhondda and her husband were able to take Ajia back home.
"It was a miracle, an absolute miracle,” Rhondda says of her family’s experience and Ajia’s impressive recovery. “Because, by all rights, Ajia should be dead right now."
Yelp’s Home Away from Home is your chance to offer that same miracle to another family. Simply RSVP at bit.ly/yelpcomfort18 to get on the guest list. Each $20 donation supports one family for two nights at the House.
Yelp’s Home Away from Home benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Nevada
6 – 9 p.m.
Wed., June 27, 2018
Regency at Damonte Ranch
RSVP at bit.ly/yelpcomfort18.
Sponsors and partners of Yelp’s Home Away from Home benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Nevada include:
ANI Building Solutions
Blanchard, Krasner & French
Celebrations! Party Rentals
KRXI FOX 11
Marcello Rostogni Photography
Toll Brothers, Inc.
BJ’s Nevada Barbecue
Cherry Bomb Catering
Cheese Board American Bistro
Whole Foods Market
Ceol Irish Pub
Pitch Black Printing
Atlantis Casino Resort Spa
Do Well Events
Nissan of Reno
This is Reno