Having a loved one hospitalized for a serious health issue can be a disorienting, stressful and scary experience. If medical care is located far from home, staying close and being together as the patient recovers can be a significant challenge for many families.
By providing a comfortable and welcoming place for families to stay while their children receive care at local hospitals, Ronald McDonald House in Milwaukee (RMH) strives to make this difficult time easier. One of many houses across the country, the Milwaukee facility was built in 1984, and recently doubled its size in response to a growing need. Today, with 70 guest rooms, RMH in Milwaukee is able to ensure that there is never a waiting list for families who want to stay there. Cathy Radler, Development Manager for RMH Charities – Eastern Wisconsin, explains that guests are asked to donate a small fee towards the nightly lodging cost if able, but no one is turned away due to inability to pay.
On our LoveMKE tour of the facility, we were struck by the soothing beauty and inviting warmth of the house. A hardworking team of more than 500 volunteers performs a multitude of jobs, from cleaning to cooking meals to coordinating check-in and check-out. Upon arrival, families receive a gift bag with cosmetics, a plush toy and a children’s book. Volunteers donate handmade quilts that guests can take home with them, and therapy dog McNugget makes regular visits as the official Cuddle Coordinator.
During a typical stay averaging two weeks, guests have access to a playroom that’s kept clean and sanitized by volunteers, an art therapy room offering projects for all ages, and an outdoor play area and garden, where certified master gardeners grow pesticide-free produce. Many families enjoy harvesting and cooking these vegetables in the house’s nine expansive kitchens. RMH also provides breakfast daily, and volunteers prepare dinner at least five nights a week.
Families staying at RMH in Milwaukee can unwind and relax by visiting the on-site music therapy room, non-denominational chapel, fitness center, game room or computer room. In addition, the family gathering room offers a weekly movie night.
Having a family member in the hospital can be especially difficult for kids. To bring comfort to its youngest guests, RMH offers access to its Magic Room, where children can choose a new toy or gift card upon arrival to the house. This small but colorful room is stocked to the ceiling with games, art supplies, and toys for kids of all ages; all of the items are donated by the community.
RMH relies extensively on the generosity of the community to ensure families staying there have the most positive experience possible. Here’s how you can help:
- The organization welcomes in-kind donations, from snacks to toys to other items; to see the most current needs, please visit the house’s online wish list.
- Financial donations of any size are also extremely important in helping RMH accommodate families who are unable to pay the full lodging cost. Click here to learn how you can donate.