For the families of hospitalized children, there is no better home away from home between hospital visits than the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan, located in downtown Lansing. The House provides bed and shelter for families who wish to remain near their hospitalized children.
Constructed in 2000, the Ronald McDonald House was not built by the fast food chain, but by private donors. Executive director Lisa Gnass said it “took many years for the money to be raised; everyone became involved, including business and medical committees.”
The House of Mid-Michigan is one of 300 Houses worldwide. Although all of the Houses are independent, they rely on each other as a global community for shared information and networking to guarantee optimal efficiency.
The Ronald McDonald House has everything a family needs to be comfortable during its time away from home. It features eight bedrooms, each with double beds, closet space and private bathrooms. It also has a large kitchen that is shared between all guests, a common room, play room, laundry facilities, teen lounge and library. The facility is securely monitored, and each family is given its own key for admittance. More than 250 families are housed each year, a total of more than 2,500 since the organization’s inception.
There are some basic requirements in order for families to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. For example, the child must be 18 years or younger. It takes $120 per night to make the house run, but the Ronald McDonald House only asks for a donation of $10 per night — but no family is turned away, regardless of its ability to donate. The families have no limit on how long they are allowed to stay, and visits have ranged from one night to nine months.
“Studies have shown that children who are constantly surrounded by their family tend to have a faster recovery period because their family is present. We try to give them everything they need so they can focus all of their time on their child,” said Gnass.
The Ronald McDonald House has two full-time employees, one part-time employee and 18 board members. The House is run almost completely by volunteers.
“We try to accommodate the volunteers and make their job here something they want to do” said Gnass. The House does not hire a cleaning service: this is one of the main jobs of the volunteers. The volunteers also help with fundraising to decorate the House for the holidays. There are 50 regular volunteers and more than 100 who give their time to the House throughout the year. The Ronald McDonald House runs almost completely on the generosity of the community and local donations.
To volunteer, contact Lisa Gnass at (517) 485-9303. To donate, visit the organization’s Web site.