For families going through a difficult time, such as waiting for a loved one to come out of the hospital after a difficult surgery, there is little to console them. The stress, worry and anxiety caused by long stays in the hospital can have a very negative effect on those involved. However, at major hospitals such as Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, hope is offered with an open hand through the organization known as Ronald McDonald House Charities. As the name suggests, the charity is sponsored by the popular fast food chain as well as private donations and the aid of a great deal of volunteers.
This charity organization helps families across the country stay near loved ones who are in the hospital going in or recovering from surgery. It accomplishes this by maintaining residences near the hospital that act as temporary living areas which come stocked with food and other items to make the stay more comfortable. Volunteers help keep the residence halls clean as well as hosting events and activities for children who are staying in the building. Without the aid of volunteers, many of them former patients or the families of former patients, the charity organization would not be able to function.
In Kansas City, the Ronald McDonald House Charity has grown over the years since it was first put in place in 1981 near the University of Kansas Medical Center. The popularity of the charity and the need for one near Children’s Mercy led to the installation of a second house in 1988, the Bernstein House. Since then, several new houses have been added next to the Children’s Mercy location including the Longfellow and Wylie residences. The Longfellow house opened in 2006 and was the first in KC to feature suites for immunosuppressed children while the Wylie house, which opened recently in 2015, added 20 new rooms for families to reside in, bringing the total number of rooms up to 87.
Today, the Ronald McDonald Charity houses line an entire street next to Children’s Mercy hospital and are as reliant upon volunteer aid now as they were when they first opened. Families such as the Techner family donate a great deal of time and effort to helping those who are staying in the houses. In the case of the Techner family, they provided food for all of the families one night by cooking BBQ all day.
Dakota Techner remarked how the charity helped his own family when they first came to Kansas City over five years ago.
“Five years ago when my son was born in Jeff City, Missouri, he ended up with a big knot on top of his head and suffered from seizures so they flew him here. The first night we stayed up here in a motel then they had an opening in the house so they moved us here. I’ve just been wanting to give back because it’s a good thing that they have going on here,” said Techner.
Megan Evans, the Family Services manager at the Wyle House, described the ultimate purpose of the charity organization in detail.
“Our purpose is to provide free lodging and care to families that are obviously going through a really catastrophic time in their lives with their children and really our goal is to offer great care to families and keep them together so that they can be the support system that that person needs,” said Evans.
The charity also maintains a family room inside Children’s Mercy itself so that parents can be minutes away at most from their child undergoing an operation. The organization is always on the lookout for volunteers with kind hearts who want to help children and parents going through hard times. If you are interested in learning more about the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Kansas City or are interested in volunteering, please visit their website at https://rmhckc.org/.
Edited by Abbie Barth, Adam White