A Texas father is furious that the Ronald McDonald House in Houston has refused to help his 4-year-old suffering from cancer because he has a criminal record, fuming, “It’s not about me. It’s about her.” (Photo: KRGV).
A family already enduring the unimaginable — watching their 4-year-old daughter Jolynn battle a brain tumor — has been dealt another tragic blow, as the charity they turned to for help has turned them away.
Joe and Evelyn Garcia told KRGV that the Ronald McDonald House in Houston, Tex., did offer their family assistance in Corpus Christi in February, when Jolynn had brain surgery for medulloblastoma, But the charity organization would not help them in Houston — where the preschooler has to go through chemotherapy for the next three weeks — because of Joe’s police record.
They told us that it wasn’t going to be approved, that it was out of the question,” said the father, of Harlingen, who has multiple misdemeanor crimes, including DWI, domestic violence, and assault on his rap sheet from more than a decade ago.
The family was denied lodging from the Ronald McDonald House just days before Jolynn’s second round of treatment, and is struggling to pay for the costs they’ve incurred and will continue to incur for the next year fighting the cancer. On a GoFundMe page that the parents created, Evelyn explains, “My husband had to take medical leave since January 2, 2015 due to a severe hand injury and I had to quit medical school to support and take care of my daughter.”
The Garcias did not immediately return Yahoo Parenting’s requests for comment.
The told the local news station that they were floored by the charity refusing to help because of Joe’s past — especially because the Ronald McDonald House declares on its website that it’s “proud to offer a safe and loving environment to all families of children facing a life threatening condition, including those in need of an organ transplant or fighting cancer.
“When I was younger, I was in some trouble,” the dad freely admitted. “That was back when I was a kid. I’m 28 years old now. I haven’t been in trouble since. Not only am I being punished for something I previously did as barely an adult, not only did I serve my probation, I served my fines and so forth. I went through that. Afterwards, I put myself through college. I got a job. I haven’t been in trouble since. I’ve been taking care of my kids.”
A representative for Ronald McDonald House Charities confirms to Yahoo Parenting that the organization has “a board-approved policy in place” that it does not provide services for families whose members have a criminal record.
“Given the communal living environment and out of an abundance of caution, chapters may elect to do background checks on all families referred for accommodation,” explains the RMHC. “If a background check reveals conviction for assault, crimes against children or family violence, as well as other violent criminal activity, then in the best interest of all families staying in the House the family would be asked to work with their hospital social worker to find other accommodations.”
Still, Joe insists that it’s wrong to make his daughter pay the price of his misdeeds. “It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about her.”