House Construction Project
Ronald McDonald House Charities is expanding so that no family is turned away because of lack of space. The RMHC has been running at full capacity for over four years, and in 2013 alone was unable to accommodate 888 families in need. The expansion will add 32 new guest rooms as well as remodel and expand internal and external common areas. Construction began July 2013 and will end September 2014. During this time, construction workers will be on- site and along with the new construction areas there will also be remodeling taking place to the existing House. Our general contractor is Peter Schwabe, Inc. and they will be taking precautions to ensure our families stay at the RMHC will be safe. These precautions include using tacky mats around all construction areas to collect dust, using negative air to draw dust away from living areas into the exterior, building construction walls between areas of construction and House living areas as well as using Heppa filters to filter the air from dust.
If you are planning to stay during construction RMHC recommends the following:
- Please notify and discuss your child’s health concerns with your attending doctor to determine whether the RMHC meets your needs during this time.
During your stay RMHC recommends:
- Check the Construction Communication Board located in the RMHC Great Room for daily updates.
- Visit our website for construction updates.
- RMHC asks that you limit your visitors during this time.
- Please direct any questions or concerns to Tiffany Klopp, Family Service and Program Manager or Manager on duty.
How to Stay
To qualify to stay at the Ronald McDonald House, you must be a parent/legal guardian who:
- Has a child 21 years or younger being treated at a Milwaukee area hospital.
- Lives outside of these five counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, Racine, Ozaukee.
If you meet these qualifications, take the next steps:
- Get a referral- Contact your child’s assigned hospital case manager/social worker to submit your referral.
- Check availability- Once on the list the family then needs to call on the day requested to check in, to ensure we have a room available. We request families call between 10am-1pm. If we do have an available room families must check in before 8pm.
Important things to know:
- We are unable to take reservations because we never know how long a child may need to be in the hospital.
- Families are admitted as availability permits.
- Check in hours are from 9am-8pm.
- One room per patient.
- We have a suggested donation of $10.00 per night, however no family is ever turned away if they are unable to pay.
- Families clean their room before checkout.
- The building and grounds of Ronald McDonald House are smoke free.
- Families must be respectful and tolerant of other families who are equally concerned about the well being of their children.
Colton’s Story: Escanaba, MI
Seven-month-old Colton is a familiar face at Ronald McDonald House Eastern Wisconsin. When Colton was two weeks old he was diagnosed with a heart defect. He was at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for six weeks before he was able to get a heart transplant. Then Colton got a new heart.
Colton’s family tells us they noticed the welcoming atmosphere and the homelike quality of the surroundings as soon as they walked into Ronald McDonald House. They found relief from the long stressful hours spent in the hospital.
For many weeks Ronald McDonald House was their “home away from home.” Staff and volunteers provided family dinners, art therapy and yoga classes. Our van service to and from the hospital was very important for Colton’s mother and grandmother, who didn’t have a car. They made friends with other families staying at the House, finding community, comfort, and support.
“Without Ronald McDonald House and all the people here, I don’t know what we would have done,” says Colton’s mother. “I can’t even imagine it.”
Elijah’s Story. Pound, WI
Elijah extends his small, fisted hand toward Ronald McDonald, his eyes cast downward at the clown’s yellow glove. In the photograph capturing the exchange, Elijah’s father, Giles, holds the nineteen month old in his arms.
“We just started doing that fist bump,” Giles explains, grinning, “and to see him doing that with Ronald McDonald was amazing.”
Although a scene like this might be more easily attributed to a child’s birthday party, for Elijah, the fist bump occurred at the Ronald McDonald House which has served as a home away from home while Elijah – who was born without a diaphragm – undergoes treatment at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Area volunteers cook dinner nightly for guest families. For Giles, who had no preconceived expectations for life at the House, the notion of a hot meal served on something other than a plastic hospital tray was overwhelming. “I had to fight back tears,” he says.
To visit the Ronald McDonald House is to realize that, beyond the foundation of the building itself, there also lies the foundation of an engaged and committed community dedicated to easing the burdens of the guests. For families like the Litzners, the House is more than just a physical space.
“We’ve been thinking of ways to give back,” Giles says. “We have two lives,” he continues, referring to splitting their time between the Milwaukee area and their hometown. “Honestly, we’ve been calling the Ronald McDonald House our home.”
Courtney’s Story. Birnamwood, WI
After two years of experiencing dizziness and fainting spells, Courtney was finally diagnosed with dysautonomia which requires such constant medical attention that she is one of the most frequent residents at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin (RMH).
Courtney remembers her first stay at RMH well. Her mother said that it was such a relief “watching Courtney having fun with the other residents.”
Courtney is particularly interested in a jewelry-making workshops led by the art therapist. She is donating a bracelet she made to the annual Black Tie Gala auction held by the Ronald McDonald House. The beads spell out the words: Live. Laugh. Love. Courtney said, “I wanted to give something back because they treat me like I’m a person.”
“Most people don’t know what you go through when you have a sick child,” Connie said. “There are a lot of families that need this service.”
Tony’s Story. Madison, WI
Tony was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia and needed a bone marrow transplant. Steve and Staci, Tony’s parents, needed a support system to help Tony at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and also care for his three sisters at home in Madison.
The Ronald McDonald House provided private extended stay accommodations as well as community space in which to escape the isolation of the hospital. “The Ronald McDonald House is so much more than a place to stay,” Steve and Staci agreed. “The medical team was responsible for getting Tony through his transplant and recovery. The Ronald McDonald House was responsible for getting our family through. It’s where we kept ourselves together so we could use our energy on the important things.”
Even happier than the day they got a room at the House was the day when they checked out 95 days later. Tony is back to out-patient status, and well enough to live at home in Madison.
Michael’s Story. Zion, IL
Michael is thirteen years old and he is winning a tough battle against pelvic cancer. He spent four months having chemotherapy treatments and surgeries at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. In the beginning, Michael and his mom and dad were driving back and forth to their home in Zion, IL and it was taking a heavy toll on them both financially and emotionally.
When Michael needed to spend two straight months in the hospital, his mom and dad moved into the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Wisconsin and it was a “blessing” because they could spend every moment possible with their son.
It’s helpful to spend time with other families at the Ronald McDonald House, who have a unique perspective on their situation. “You meet a perfect stranger here, and you’ve got a lot of things in common, so you can really sit down and speak your mind, and share what you’re going through with them,” says Michael Sr.
Michael’s treatments have gone so well that his doctors think Michael will be able to live cancer-free.
Brandon’s Story. Dale, WI
Brandon had just become a big brother when he was accidently run over by a lawn mower, causing him severe facial injuries down to the bone on the left side of his face and severing his ear.
For two months, while Brandon endured intensive plastic surgery, his parents, older sister and newborn baby sister found solace at the Ronald McDonald House. Brandon’s stay in the hospital coincided with the Swine Flu epidemic, so the newborn was not allowed into the hospital. This meant that Brandon’s mom and dad had to rotate between visiting Brandon at the hospital and staying with the baby at the House. They say that they never could have managed without a safe haven close to their hospitalized son.
Brandon’s parents say that the Ronald McDonald House provided them with a supportive network of other families in similar situations. It also gave them financial relief by not having to commute two hours from their home and the peace of mind to know that their child was safe at Children’s Hospital right across the street.
When Betty was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She began treatment at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin but still her illness worsened and Betty sank into a coma for four months. Her parents then moved into the Ronald McDonald House to be by Betty’s side every day. There, they found hope and support while they prayed for their daughter’s recovery. Betty finally woke up from the coma, but doctors had to amputate both her legs below the knee because of poor circulation.
Betty and her parents moved back into the Ronald McDonald House for the second time as she continued her recovery. The family likes to relax in the House’s Secret Garden and participate in the dog therapy program at the House. The Ronald McDonald House has been not only a residence for Betty’s family; it is a haven from the chaos of hospital visits. Betty says that being there has helped them interact with other families going through similar situations and helps them realize they are not alone.
Share Your Story
Those of you connected to the House have a story that can inspire, encourage, and comfort families across the RMHC community; people who know the challenges of living with a seriously ill child… Share your high points and low times; your setbacks and rallying spirits — your tales of inspiration and stories of encouragement to help others like you.
If you are interested in sharing your story, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, email address and your story. After approval of your story it will be listed on the website where people from all over the world can read about your incredible journey.
Please be aware that by submitting your story, you approve your story to be posted on our website or Facebook page. Feel free to submit a photo to post along with your story.
* All stories will remain confidential, unless the authors wish to identify themselves.