Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte has teamed up with Printsocial to be part of our Print with Purpose program. This means you now have the opportunity to choose to have 5% of your order donated to their truly incredible organization. Here at Printsocial, we believe it’s important to share their story so others can learn more about their cause and the impact they have on not only our community, but communities worldwide.
Carrying for a seriously ill child can become a financial burden for families.With the medical bills and travel accommodations, it can become overwhelming. The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte (RMH Charlotte) works to alleviate some of these hardships.
According to Emily Ransone, Annual Support Manager, RMH Charlotte opened its doors in 2011.
“With Ronald McDonald Houses in general, worldwide, they’re always affiliated with some type of hospital system…so, as hospitals start developing and becoming more advanced, they start having patients coming in from other places—that’s when you’ll see Ronald McDonald Houses popping up because then there become a need for the houses,” she said.
The opening of Carolinas Medical Center’s new 240-bed Levine Children’s Hospital in 2007 and the expansion of Novant Health Hemby Children’s Hospital created the need for a facility located nearby.
“Our hospitals are becoming more of a destination for care,” Ransone said.
The Charlotte house is able to accommodate 28 families, with one room per family unit. There is no minimum or maximum for how long a family can stay.
“We serve 550-600 families per year,” Ransone said. “Last year, our average stay was 14 nights, but we’ve had families for several months at a time. I think that the longest time was almost a year. It really depends on the type of treatment the child is receiving.”
RMH Charlotte hosts families with children suffering from a variety of illnesses.
“The highest diagnosis we have is children in the NICU,” Ransone said. “So we have a lot of premature baby’s families staying with us. But they could be in the NICU for a lot of different reasons, different diagnoses. For example, the child might be in the NICU but also have cancer. We’ve had a lot of cancer patients, children with sickle cell anemia, etc.”
According to Ransone, there are three requirements a family must meet in order to stay at RMH Charlotte: the child must be between 0-22 years old, the child must be actively receiving treatment, and the family must live outside of Mecklenburg County.
“There’s not an income cap or maximum,” she said. “It all depends on these three factors.”
RMH Charlotte strives to be a home-away-from-home for these families. Upon checking in, each family is given a private bedroom and bathroom. Amenities include a large living room, dining room, full-service kitchen, playroom, playground, teen room, and a laundry room. Every evening, families are provided with a hot meal by volunteers. In addition, families get a home-cooked breakfast every Saturday and Sunday.
“We have a pantry full of food, so for breakfast and lunch during the week, they don’t have to go out to the grocery store, even though the volunteers aren’t making those meals for them,” Ransone said.
Toiletries and laundry essentials are also supplied to the families during their stay.
“It’s all done by volunteers and donations we receive from the community that we’re able to offer all of that free of charge,” she said.
While families are asked to make a donation during their stay, the Charlotte RMH website states that “no one will ever be turned away due to an inability to pay.”
“A lot of our families can’t donate, or they’re not able to donate a lot because they’re going through a lot of financial hardship with the medical expenses,” Ransone said. “It costs us $142 a night per family to keep the house running. So any donation that is made to the house goes to our Fund-A-Family program and covers the cost that it costs us so that we never have to turn a family away.”
According to Ransone, there are many ways the community can support RMH Charlotte.
“We get all of the supplies we need through what we call in-kind donations, picking out items on our wishlist,” she said. “Anything you need in your house you would multiply that by 28 since we have 28 families.
Volunteer Power is also essential for the day-to-day operations. With only 14 full-time staff members keeping the house open 24-7, the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte relies heavily on its volunteers.
“We rely on volunteers to clean, sit at the front desk, give tours, make the meals, do activity nights for the families,” Ransone said. “We call our volunteers the ‘heartbeat of the house’ because we really rely on them to help things run smoothly.”
Overall, Ransone feels there is a strong connection between the charity and the Charlotte community.
“Since I’ve been working here, I’ve been really amazed by the community, and how this community especially, supports the Ronald McDonald House,” Ransone said. “We see folks from every walk of life coming in to donate or volunteer—churches, civic groups, schools, sports teams, big corporations, small businesses, retired teachers—all different types of people…I’ve been very impressed by the diversity of folks that have been involved and get behind this mission because I think almost anyone can relate to having a sick child or sick family member and knowing what that feels like. The heart that’s poured into this place is pretty cool.”