The Ronald McDonald House charities seek to lessen the burden for more than seven million families every year. They provide a place to rest that feels like home for families who have a child in the hospital.
In 1974, the first Ronald McDonald House opened on October 15 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now, Ronald McDonald Houses can be found in 59 countries and regions around the globe. There are currently 329 Ronald McDonald Houses, 192 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, and 50 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles.
What’s the difference in these three? The Ronald McDonald Houses are for families who travel far from home and spend several weeks or months to get treatment for their seriously ill or injured child. Ronald McDonald Houses were built primarily to provide an affordable place to stay for families, where they can get a meal, lay their head down to rest, and be close enough to take care of their child. A Ronald McDonald “family room” is often located steps away from a pediatric or intensive care unit, and offers families a place to rest and regroup right at the hospital. This family room often contains a kitchen area, shower facilities, laundry facilities, internet access, a television, and reference books. Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles are state-of-the-art vehicles that are built specifically for pediatric health care services. The mobiles focus on delivering health education to reduce overall medical costs. The mobiles also address behavior and lifestyle choices that help motivate families to improve and maintain their health. In addition, mobiles provide treatment such as immunizations, and give referrals for families to receive ongoing care with a doctor or a dentist.
Locally, there is Ronald McDonald House right here in Morgantown. CEO and Executive Director Steve De Jesus, recently sat down for an interview with me, to tell more about how the organization came to be and what the Ronald McDonald House brings to Morgantown.
West Virginia resident Elizabeth King knows firsthand just how comforting the Ronald McDonald House can be. Her family stayed there when her youngest child Alex, was having serious medical issues.
“Our stay at Ronald McDonald House was wonderful,” explained King. “Their staff is friendly, kind and helpful and the accommodations are comfortable; knowing we were close to Alex was very comforting as well.”
Angel Houston said staying at the Ronald McDonald House meant a lot to her family, and had a huge impact on their lives.
“When my son, Justin, was 2 and a half months old he had open heart surgery,” explained Houston. “I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. They were very nice and helpful. Its a very home feeling..Everyone that stayed there could talk to each other its like a support group when It’s very helpful when you don’t know what’s going to happen to your loved one. People would come in and fix Dinner for everyone. Its a very nice place. When we left the last day they gave him a blanket that someone made and donated..We still have it 11 years later, and we save pop tabs and send to them.”
De Jesus says the Morgantown Ronald McDonald House is always looking for donations and ways to get the community involved.