Mission Control

Much of the St. Mary’s Hospital campus is a woven fabric of parking lots and roads leading to groupings of medical offices, labs, and procedure rooms offset from public view. Yet the Ronald McDonald House on Washington Avenue, near the main entrance to the hospital, is hard not to see. The facility was featured in Home Away From Home, the official guidebook for public tours of the house in the March/April 2010 Evansville Living.

Since it opened on Jan. 18, 2010, the house has served more than 1,000 children, parents, and family members each year. Families whose children face serious medical challenges are able to live comfortably at the house for an average of about eight days. Dinners are prepared almost every night, and knowledgeable staff and roughly 150 volunteers are on hand to provide guidance and support.

The Ronald McDonald House’s proximity to the hospital reduces the burdens on parents caring for very sick children from shuttling back and forth — sometimes over long distances — from hospitals to hotel rooms. “We make them as close as they can be to the hospital while taking care of them at the same time,” says Jeremy Evans, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ohio Valley.

There are no plans to add on to the Ronald McDonald House building. Yet the Ronald McDonald House Charities are focused on future sustainability. One plan in the works is to bring the philosophies of the Ronald McDonald Family Room — a place for families to rest and regroup — into the waiting rooms of local regional hospitals.

Evans adds there are more than 300 Ronald McDonald Houses around the world. The local house receives about 20 percent of its revenue every year from the canister programs at McDonald’s stores in its 39-member McDonald’s Owner-Operator Cooperative extending from Fairfield, Ill., to Owensboro, Ky. Other revenue comes from events like golf outings and the Lights of Love Christmas campaign. The charity also is starting to again hand out grants. That’s what it did before there was a Ronald McDonald House.

“It’s the kind of mission that a lot of people can get behind,” Evans says. “By providing a place to stay and taking care of our families’ personal daily stresses, we empower them to take care of their kids.”

For more information about the Ronald McDonald House, call 812-402-7642 or visit rmhevansville.org.

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