By: Kara Souther, Director of the Ronald McDonald Family Room

This year is special for the Ronald McDonald House Charities-Upper Midwest Chapter as we celebrate our 35th anniversary. Our chapter began serving families in 1979 after opening an eight bedroom fraternity house by the University of Minnesota. Over the years we’ve expanded into three unique programs that support over 5,000 families each year. Two of the programs, Ronald McDonald House-Oak St and Ronald McDonald House-Children’s, Minneapolis, are located in Minneapolis, and on July 1, 2011 we expanded our efforts across the river and launched a new program in St Paul – the Ronald McDonald Family Room.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room (RMFR) is located near the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and provides a “home-away-from-home” for any inpatient family at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.  The program offers a kitchen, fully stocked pantry, living room, fireplace, laundry room and four overnight sleep rooms and families are never required to pay. Inpatient families can stop by any time between 9:00am to 9:00pm to grab something to eat, play games or take a moment to relax.

Our goal at the Ronald McDonald Family Room is to make a family’s hospital stay just a little easier so that they can focus on their child’s medical recovery. One way we do that is through our wonderful volunteer program called Cooks for Kids. The Cooks for Kids groups provide inpatient families with free home-made meals served nightly! Anyone can become a Cooks for Kids group; we’ve had past RMFR families, Gillette staff and even Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman come to serve a meal! For more information on becoming a Cooks for Kids group click here.

It is hard to believe the Ronald McDonald Family Room will be celebrating its third anniversary this July. The time has gone by so quickly and we have met so many amazing families (over 3,400!) that have made the RMFR a very special place. Thank you to everyone who has supported the Ronald McDonald Family Room with your donation of pantry items, household supplies, Cooks For Kids meals and pop tabs (yes, we still collect them).  It’s truly amazing to see the community of love and support that surrounds a family when they need it the most. We at the Ronald McDonald Family Room wish you and your family a safe and fun summer.

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