Last week a gala ceremony was held at the Ronald McDonald House at 267-07 76th Avenue, New Hyde Park to celebrate the breaking of ground to expand "The House That Love Built."
CEO, President and Directors of Ronald McDonald House join Ronald McDonald in grabbing shovels to officially kick off the much-needed expansion of the "House that Love Built."
The Ronald McDonald, a home-away-from-home, is a temporary lodging facility for seriously ill children and families who must travel to area hospitals for urgently needed medical care.
The families stay at the house while their child is under a physician's care, whether the child is hospitalized or being treated on an out-patient basis. Residents at the house enjoy a home-like setting, the privacy of their own room and, most importantly, the understanding of others who share the same burden of having a seriously ill child. While at the house families are asked to make a small contribution of $15 per night, but if a family cannot afford that arrangements are made to reduce it.
Ronald McDonald House is a not-for-profit corporation that relies heavily on financial support from the community. All day-to-day costs of running the house are paid through private donations, corporate contributions and fund-raising activities.
Since opening in 1986, the house has been home to more than 7,000 families from Long Island, across the country and around the world. The house accommodates up to 18 families each night. Respite facilities are also available for parents who are sleeping at their child's bedside and need a place to relax and freshen up away from the hospital. With the new expansion the house will more than double its size with 24 new bedroom/bath combinations, more play areas, lounges and kitchen stations.
Ronald McDonald House is situated on 3/4 of an acre provided by the Board of Trustees of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, on the grounds of Schneider Children's Hospital which is now part of the North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System. Currently, the 22,000 square foot house includes 18 bedrooms, each with a private bath, children's play areas both inside and out, library, four kitchen stations, a fully stocked food pantry, three laundry rooms and two family rooms where families can socialize or watch television.
However, during the past year, the house has turned away more than 150 families due to lack of space. These families are faced with lengthy commutes to their homes, sleeping in hospital waiting areas or staying in expensive and isolating hotels.
The expansion of the house and the plan that has been formulated will enable the current facility to remain open during construction. The new structure, which will be in front of the existing house, will be linked to the existing house by a beautiful atrium and it will incorporate the child- friendly and soothing atmosphere of the current building. The entire cost of the new expansion is estimated at $5 million.
President of the house Lawrence Anderer said, "We are grateful to the McDonald's New York Tri-State owners and operators who have committed $1.5 million to the campaign. The commitment is for $500,000 at the launch and $1 million in the form of a challenge gift-50 cents for each dollar we raise."
The campaign has drawn the participation of many individuals, including Lyn Jurick secretary/treasurer of FALA Direct Marketing, Inc. who is the founder of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island and Bill Morhrmann, a McDonald's owner/operator, and founding member of the house's board of directors. Both have graciously agreed to co-chair an advisory board.
In speaking to the group Jurick told of the many trials and tribulations overcome in order to build Ronald McDonald House on its existing site. But, she said, with the help of everyone it finally became a reality and its marvelous success is now "history."
"Along with the important goal of raising enough money to expand the house, it is also our goal to raise awareness in the community. I did not know about the house when my own daughter was in the hospital and I want to make sure everyone on Long Island realizes that the Ronald McDonald House is there for them," said Mayur T. Dalal, capital campaign co-chairman.
The house has seven full time staff members: an executive director, a volunteer coordinator, two administrative assistants, a resident manager and two cleaning and maintenance persons. There are five part-time staff members; an additional housekeeping person and four weekend managers. About 120 volunteers help run the house by working in the office; they serve on the speakers' bureau, drive the van and serve on various committees.
Since volunteers are the "heartbeat" of the house, volunteers are welcomed on many levels. The house is always looking for volunteers and anyone interested is urged to contact Executive Director Silvana LaFerlita Gullo at 775-5683 or log on to the website: www.rmhlongisland.org.