Inclusion and celebrating diversity are important to the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. In 2017, we served more than 830 families from 17 countries, 37 states, and 63 counties in Ohio. Many families we serve speak only their native language. Couple the difficulties in communicating simple needs with the uncertainty of a new area and caring for their child, families can have an overwhelming experience. Recognizing the importance of the Ronald McDonald House, Katie Cirincione, a junior at Westlake High School and Girl Scout member, wanted to help.
After learning about the House and the diversity of the families we serve, Katie decided to focus on the Ronald McDonald House for part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. The goal of the 80-hour service project was to create something that has a lasting impact on the community. Katie has loved foreign languages for as long as she can remember. For her project, she decided to use this love to help enrich and strengthen the cultural diversity found at the Ronald McDonald House. In September 2017, Katie began collecting the foreign language books that would be placed in two language libraries: one for Westlake Porter Public Library to help inspire others to learn a foreign language and the other for the Ronald McDonald House guests to enjoy.
Over the next several months, she received donated books from Westlake Porter Public Library, Half Price Books, Lorain County Community College, and family and friends. During the collection process, she learned more about languages she hadn't been exposed to and had discussions with friends about different cultures and topics they normally wouldn’t have explored.
With the shelves of her language library filled with books, Katie made a visit at the end of February to deliver the library to families at the House.
The language library, comprised of books in Spanish, French, German, Arabic, and other languages, is now proudly on display at the Ronald McDonald House and is helping the House feel more like home for our international guests. Katie hopes the libraries help inspire others to discover a love for language, one she hopes to continue to explore thoughout her life. Katie speaks Spanish fluently and is in her first year studying French. She would like to make a career using her skills in both languages.
Katie's Girl Scout Gold Award project officially ends with a Culture Fair at the Westlake Porter Public Library on Sunday, March 18, 2-4 pm. All are welcome to this free event where there will be a story hour in different languages, the language library will be on display, and people of different cultures within the community will host informational tables.