2012 Richmond Hill
Owner and operator of five McDonald’s franchises located within Richmond Hill Ontario, Steve Forman began working for McDonald’s at the age of fifteen. He had no idea then that he would still be there thirty years later, or that he would have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of so many people.
Steve’s family has been closely associated with McDonald’s for many years. He comes from a tightknit family of six children, all of whom have worked for McDonalds. His brother and one sister are also McDonald’s owners. Steve stayed with McDonalds while in university, where he earned a degree in economics, and while he was preparing to start a career in police work. However, when his plans for law enforcement did not pan out, McDonalds was there to offer him a career that would turn into a gratifying lifetime opportunity – and a chance to give back.
During his tenure with McDonald’s corporate office in Ottawa, Steve worked in Ronald McDonalds Children’s Charities[i] (RMCC). Reminiscing about the board meetings they often held in Ronald McDonald houses, he remembers what a transformative experience it was to get to know many of the children and families who benefit from RMCC. “When we worked in Corporate Ottawa we would often have board meetings in an open room. We would see families, children who had lost their hair in treatment. They would talk about their doctors and when they were going to hospital again. These experiences opened my eyes to the suffering of others, and how Ronald McDonald House is a great, great thing. The kids and their families are taken such good care of.”
RMCC has thirteen (soon to be 14) Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada, serving more than 10,000 families of seriously ill children each year who are being treated at nearby hospitals. They have Houses in every province from British Columbia to Nova Scotia, and are currently building in Newfoundland and Labrador. McDonald’s Canada[ii] covers all of the operating costs; ensuring 100% of all donations go to support the Houses and the programs that they run. “They have qualified staff and dedicated volunteers who are committed to taking care of the day-to-day essentials of running a home ... They have programs that offer everything from education to meditation.”[iii] By 2014, they expect to have over 20,000 families staying at their Houses each year.
“A Ronald McDonald House offers families a warm, compassionate and comfortable home environment to live in temporarily. It is a place where families can stay together during the toughest times and share experiences with other families in the House who truly understand their struggles and triumphs.”[iv]
As a McDonald’s Operator, Steve committed to donating $35,000 over five years to running Ronald McDonald houses. In addition, $0.10 from every McHappy Meal he sells also goes to support RMCC. This small amount contributed from each McHappy Meal in 2011 enabled Steve’s company, Formal Foods, to donate and additional $20,000 to the operation of this vital children’s’ charity. Each house costs over $3 million each year to run. Because RMCC is 100% focused on raising money for the benefit of sick children and their families, donating this money was a very easy decision for Steve, his wife and his company. However, it was also a struggle because Steve has his own pet charities that he is also committed to supporting.
Steve’s primary charity is Richmond Hill’s York Central Hospital[v]. While working with the Board of Directors Steve was surprised to discover that, while the government pays to build and remodel the hospital, the hospital foundation has to raise the money required to purchase all of the equipment. Over the last five years Steve’s company raised enough money to purchase $25,000 in equipment for the children’s area of the hospital[vi]. Recently Steve committed to providing another $25,000 over the next five years to York Central Hospital paediatrics. The next project is to remodel and provide new equipment for a recovery room. After that Steve plans to create a waiting room for parents in paediatrics. The hospital is so over-crowded that the former parents’ waiting room had to be utilized for patient care. Steve recognizes the importance of having a comfortable room for parents to wait in while their children are in surgery or receiving treatment. He wants to provide a place where parents can get coffee and tea, read and watch television during those difficult times. $12,000 can be raised through coin boxes and McHappy days[vii] – the rest comes directly from Formal Foods.
Every charity that Formal Foods contributes to is related to kids. They are involved in the Richmond Hill YMCA sponsoring summer camp and an after-school meeting room. They contribute to an organization that funds research for Ewings Cancer, created by the mother of a young man who died from this rare form of cancer[viii]. In addition, they sponsor soccer teams in Richmond Hill. Formal Foods started sponsoring ten teams five years ago – they now sponsor fifty-five!
As someone who has been involved with McDonald’s for most of his life, Steve says “if you don’t want to give back, don’t be an Operator. It’s a way of life.” Why does Steve contribute to transforming the lives of others for the better? “As a McDonald’s Operator we are expected to give back to the community – but the community is great to us so we want to be great in return. I also recognize how fortunate I am, so I do it from a place of gratitude. Finally, I do it just because it feels good.”
Transforming the world one kid at a time, and experiencing the benefit of giving, is how Steve lives – and he’s not finished yet! “My vision is to do more; to get more Richmond Hill companies involved! We (Formal Foods) are just a spec of sand… there is so much more to do.”
[i] http://www.rmhccanada.com/ [ii] http://www.mcdonalds.ca [iii] http://www.rmhccanada.com/inside-rmhc/about-ronald-mcdonald-house-charities/ [iv] http://www.rmhccanada.com/ [v] http://yorkcentral.on.ca/ [vi] http://www.snaprichmondhill.com/index.php?option=com_sngevents&id%5B%5D=287942 [vii] http://ychfoundation.blogspot.ca/2012/05/mchappy-day-thank-you.html [viii] http://www.ewingscancer.ca/