40 From Our 40: Vonda Tyler
When the south wing of the House on Limestone Street opened in 1989, a new resident House manager, Vonda Tyler, was hired. Her role was to live at the Ronald McDonald House through the week and be on duty Sunday-Thursday from 5:00 PM through midnight and from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM the following mornings. “I met so many families and I’ve kept in touch with some over the years.” She spent much of her evening in the front office and as moms came through to check in, they would stop and visit. “They just wanted to talk about what was happening in the world, celebrities, fashion, makeup, etc.”
Vonda remembered Georgia, a woman staying at the House undergoing treatments while awaiting a liver transplant. In the early days of the House, guests would be paged to the front office for incoming phone calls. Vonda remembers calling Georgia to the phone and waiting nearby. After hearing Georgia get paged, other families gathered in the lobby hoping to hear good news. A liver was waiting, and she was to report to the hospital immediately. “It was wonderful, families were lining the hallways, cheering for Georgia and her husband as they left the House, excited about the chance at a new life.”
Alone at 20 years old, Mark needed a bone marrow transplant to treat his testicular cancer. RMHCCIN was Mark’s home for months. Vonda remembered how the House rallied around him during this time. Chuck Richmond, a founding board member of the House helped him with his resume. He also connected him to the Newman Center across the street from the House that was filled with students from IUPUI. It became a home and community for Mark. Sadly, Mark did pass away. A contingent of students from Indiana he had met while a Houseguest traveled to Pennsylvania, his home state, to say goodbye.
Families tend to spend their days at the hospital with their sick children and evenings at the House. Vonda was “the House” to many families. When a family didn’t realize Vonda had the day off, they would ring her doorbell and she never turned them away. “I was so humbled when I learned what families were going through. Their stories gave me a lifelong appreciation of all things, big and small, in my life. I lived at the House for seven years. It was a wonderful experience.”