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Ronald McDonald House growing its home away from home

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Ronald McDonald House, 529 Moye Blvd Wednesday, May 24, 2017.

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Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, May 25, 2017

An expansion of the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina will give families facing challenges they never imagined something difficult to measure in square feet: Each other.

The addition of a 10,000-square-foot building adjacent to the existing facility will add seven new bedrooms, a kitchen/dining area, playroom and storage space. The existing building also will add a new laundry room, family space and multi-purpose room, the operators said. 

Demolition work began at the Moye Boulevard house on Wednesday and projected completion for the Hudson Brothers building project is 10 months, Meghan Woolard, executive director of Ronald McDonald House ENC, said. 

“Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families that have ill or injured children in area medical facilities,” Woolard said. “It and our staff provide all the emotional support and comforts that families will need for an overnight or prolonged stay; hot showers. warm beds, hot meals and all the things families don’t think about until they are far from home with a sick child.

“We try to relieve all the stresses that might confront a family, with a laundry room, a place to store pantry items, rooms with games, computers and all the amenities people have at home. That allows them to focus 100 percent on taking care of their child, interact with their clinical care team, participate in critical medical care decisions and keep families close when they need each other most.”

Last year, the 21 rooms at the Greenville Ronald McDonald House had an 86-percent occupancy rate, Woolard said.

“This project will allow us to house and support even more families and, hopefully eliminate our waiting list,” she said.

On an average night, up to 27 families stay at the house and a second facility in the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center. The average stay is about 14 nights, but there are many families who stay for up to 3-4 months, Woolard said.

The current Moye Boulevard facility can accommodate families of up to four people, but the new building will include two suites capable of accommodating up to seven people.

Kim Kazda, House Operations Director at RMH ENC, said she is looking forward to the expanded accommodations because it will help her and the staff better serve the families that rely on them under difficult circumstances.

“We’re able to provide much of what they find at home and our staff is here 24 hours a day to provide the support they need,” Kazda said. “One of the best qualities of this house is the sense of community it provides for families going through similar circumstances. So actually, the best thing RMH provides to these families is each other.”

The need for services provided by the nonprofit, community-supported Ronald McDonald House ENC is a lasting one and growth comes with a price tag; in this case $3.7 million, Woolard said.

“We have some savings set aside that we planned for this expansion and we hope to raise the remaining funds through private sponsorships, donations and the use of naming rights throughout the facility,” Woolard said. “Dixon Foods (owners of area McDonald’s restaurants) is a big sponsor for us.”

McDonald’s owner-operator Wade Dixon encouraged others to get involved with supporting the charity that he said “really makes a difference, one that will change your life.”

The free-standing Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina on Moye Boulevard, which opened in 1987, is one of two Houses in Greenville. In 2013, a second facility was opened in the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital at Vidant Medical Center. Both offer housing and support to families in their time of need.

To learn more about the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern North Carolina, how to volunteer or make a donation call 252-847-5435 or visit online at rmhenc.org.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com and 329-9507.

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