Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House: Expanding their vision for children and families

Oct 04, 2018 7 months ago

University City is a pioneer in the provision of care for sick children and support for their families who travel far and wide to obtain for the best treatment for serious illnesses. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) was the first hospital opened to care specifically for the needs of children. It was a pediatric oncologist there, Dr. Audrey Evans, who saw the toll taken on families with children undergoing long-term care, and whose vision laid the groundwork for the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House (PRMH).

Dr. Evans envisioned PRMH to be a home-away-from-home for families, and a respite from the challenges of remaining by their loved one’s bedside throughout the course of their treatment. With the help of Jimmy Murray, then General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, and bolstered by proceeds from regional sales of McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes, the first Ronald McDonald House was born in 1974. 

Within the last year, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House served over 1,300 families from 48 states, 23 countries and 2 U.S. Territories.  Unfortunately, PRMH also turned away over 7,000 requests from families at the Chestnut Street House on their first application because they did not have enough room.

Forty-four years after opening their doors, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House is undergoing a massive expansion to more than double their capacity to serve families in need of temporary housing during their children’s treatment. The Room in Our Hearts expansion campaign will grow their capacity from 45 to 127 rooms at the Chestnut Street house, and modernize and expand common facilities to more than double the number of families served each year.

Families at the Ronald McDonald House receive subsidized accommodations through the duration of their child’s medical treatments, whether that time lasts for days, weeks, or months. PRMH offers a place to rest near the hospital without the financial burden of relying on hotels or long and frequent commutes, but it also offers a community, where families can experience some normalcy while they battle extraordinary conditions. That might mean spending time in the kitchen and dining area to prepare and eat a favorite meal as a family, or enjoying some playtime in an activity center together.

PRMH relies on the support of individuals and the local business community to provide this home-like atmosphere for their families. Ninety percent of funding for the Ronald McDonald House comes from private sources. That support has been essential to PRMH’s expansion, with businesses and individuals stepping up to underwrite the many spaces in the new tower.

Every other month the House invites supporters and people curious about their work to a breakfast where they can meet one of the organization’s founders and hear from a family about the ways the House has helped them. They can also tour the facility to see firsthand the impact PRMH has on families.

Overall, the Ronald McDonald House’s expansion has been a massive undertaking that relied on partnerships far and wide – some of which are right here in University City. When they were ready to bring this project to life and they were toiling over all of the details of the new patient rooms - from the width of hallways to whether or not windows should open - University of the Sciences provided space to build life-size models of the suites. On the outside of the building, PRMH is working with Green City Works, University City District’s landscaping social venture, to install and maintain their green roof and landscape the outdoor dining areas in upcoming phases of construction. 

During the month of October PRMH will celebrate its 44th anniversary in many ways, but the most visible will be the annual Show Your Stripes campaign. Each year people and organizations purchase scarves, socks, and hats which feature Ronald McDonald’s iconic red and white stripes. Then they take pictures in their gear and post them on social media with the hashtag #showyourstripes. Those stripes are our reminder that the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House continues to be a beacon of hope for families in need and we look forward to seeing their work grow with the completion of this expansion.








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