John and Becca Lastoskie have incredibly busy lives. They own and operate Graze - 'a place to eat' sandwich shop.
John runs Graze Catering, Becca styles hair at Rob Paul salon and their kids Sam (a first-grader at Edison) and Frances (aka Frankie, just 3) run themselves -- and their parents -- ragged.
But it hasn't always been this way.
Three years ago, Frankie was born 131/2 weeks early, weighing 11/2 pounds.She spent the first 100 days of her life in the Spokane Sacred Heart Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
For more than three months the Lastoskie family traveled between Walla Walla and Spokane, checking in on little Frances while trying to maintain two small businesses and a sense of normalcy for Sam.
On the Graze Catering blog (grazecatering.blogspot.com), John describes that time:
"Our son was just turning four. The catering business was still a zero employee show with negative wintertime income. Becca was not able to work at her hairstyling business. It was a scary time.We spent every weekend in Spokane with little to do except wait by an incubator. The hotel was depressing and expensive and eating out was depressing and expensive."
Sam was not allowed in the NICU to see his sister, so his time in Spokane was spent in the waiting room with one parent or the other.
Not the most entertaining time for an energetic four-year-old.
Then they were referred to the Spokane Ronald McDonald House.There, they had a homey little room, a place to cook meals, and toys and video games in three different play areas for Sam, all for around $25 a day. Becca describes the sense of relief, "...at having a place where we could just be ourselves."
The family has never forgotten the comfort and calm the House provided.
One hundred days after her birth, Frankie came home to Walla Walla, at 4 pounds and 14 ounces. Today she is healthy and strong. Although she is tiny, she is full of life and energy -- this writer was witness to an impressive temper tantrum at a recent Edison Elementary family event. It was a clear indication of the spirit and sheer force of will required to survive her difficult beginning.
For Frankie's first birthday, the Lastoskies collected donations from friends and family totaling $800 for the place that helped bring a little comfort and normalcy during those hard 100 days. Now that their business is doing well (Graze - 'a place to eat' has been open for just over a year), John and Becca are continuing the practice on a much larger scale.
For the week of January 17th, Graze - 'a place to eat' donated 10% of its sales to the Ronald McDonald House of Spokane.
"We are so thankful to be able to give back to such a wonderful charity that is there for so many people in their time of need," says John.
Jennifer Northam is events and public relations manager for the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation. Her contributions focus on the small stories from around the Valley that may not be big news but still deserve to be told.