Exploring Ronald McDonald House

Families at more than 165 Ronald McDonald Houses and Rooms (RMHC) throughout Canada and the United States were provided with a meal prepared and served by consultants from the direct selling company ThirtyOne Gifts on July 31.

This is the first time any corporate partner of RMHC has contributed to an event of this size. Thanks to the generosity of the Carlyle area and other consultants, representatives of ThirtyOne Gifts were able to provide breakfast for supper to 87 residents of the house in Saskatoon.   

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Touring the House was an eye-opening experience to everyone in the group. For only $10 per night, a family with a child aged 18 or under in hospital can sleep in a clean, comfortable room together, across the street from the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan and University Hospital.

This is not only a huge cost saving accommodations-wise; it saves the families the $20 per day parking expense as well. The house provides 34 guest rooms, equipped with towels and linens, where families are responsible for the light housekeeping of their room, using the washers, dryers, and laundry supplies provided by the house. 

Once a week, housekeeping is provided by paid staff. There are two fully-equipped community kitchens and a large shared dining room and a deck outside, with barbecues overlooking the wheelchair accessible playground.

There are phones in each room, with a message manager and a shared long-distance phone with free calling, along with a computer common area with three internet-equipped computer work stations and an art area.  A fitness room overlooks the children’s playroom, so parents can work out while supervising their children.

There are five television sitting areas, quiet sitting spaces and a multipurpose room for arts, crafts and games.

Two mother and day use rooms are equipped with napping chairs and breast pumps, and a new garden space outside with a newly constructed pergola and gardens.

The kitchens contain fridge space and a personal pantry space. A breakfast program runs three mornings a week and rotational dinner programs, along with fresh baked cookies, help make it feel like home.

Wheelchair accessibility throughout the home and complimentary Wi-Fi help families get around and keep in touch.

Approximately 1,500 families stay at the house each year, from all over the province and beyond. McDonalds covers approximately 20 per cent of the house expenses with donations from corporations and individuals covering the remainder of the cost.

With the opening of the new Children’s Hospital of Saskatchewan imminent, one would expect the need for more rooms at the house. CEO Tammy Forrester says that once children are well enough, they will be transferred to a regional hospital closer to home, which creates an entirely new dilemma for the families from RMH. 

While they are thrilled their child is one step closer to home, the lack of low-cost or subsidized housing is very real, and the need exists for another RMH, possibly in Regina.

There are so many ways to contribute to RMH, from the quilt program, which provides a quilt or afghan to each family as they leave the house, the gift program, which provides a free stuffed animal or toy for the youngster and a video game or other items for the teens, to the community pantry that provides staples for families who haven’t had the opportunity to get to a grocery store, but still need to prepare food for their family. 

Of course, cash donations are always welcome, but if you are able to donate some time and will be in the Saskatoon area, contact the house and see if you can arrange to bake cookies, purchase ingredients and prepare a meal for the families, or organize a toy drive. 

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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