Columbia’s new Ronald McDonald House opened Wednesday and is ready for new families.
These charities provide a low or no cost place to stay for families with children currently undergoing treatment at a Columbia health facility. Those facilities are mainly funded through private donations. After two years of work, Columbia’s new Ronald McDonald house in Columbia has officially accepted families to move in.
Unlike the old building, the new building has more rooms, better accessibility and is ADA compliant. Director Terri Gray of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of mid-Missouri said it was time for the charity to upgrade the housing offered to the thousands of families served since 1983.
“We’ve seen 25,000 plus families come through over the last 30 years,” Gray said. “It’s just a little bit worn, a lot worn. So we’re excited to be able to relocate over to this new house.”
The move is also based on improving the location, as the new building is located near medical facilities. Both the Women and Children’s hospital and the Thompson center for autism are very close by. Gray said this allows families to be together during medical treatments.
“We believe that children heal faster when mom and dad and siblings are close by so that’s what we’re trying to achieve,” Gray said. “That’s so important to us as a charity to make sure that families are close by while their child is receiving medical treatment or is sick or injured.”
The new house offers many things the old house could not offer. Along with more rooms, upgrading from eight to 18, each bedroom is now equipped with a private bathroom.
Other upgrades include:
- An elevator to allow for better accessibility (especially for disabled and pregnant mothers)
- A large kitchen and dining room, and
- Several community spaces where Gray says kids will have plenty of room to play.
The Powell family is one of the first families to live in the new house -- they live in Kirksville. Kevin Powell and his wife lived in the old Ronald McDonald House for about eight weeks in 2011 when his son Oliver was born prematurely. Now, Powell and his family have headed into the new house, with premature twins born just two weeks ago.
“Right now we have a boy and girl – twins – we started at Boone and now we’re at women and children’s hospital,” Powell said. “We’re kind of going through a tough time right now.”
Powell said this new house is looking to be a lot more spacious and have a much more welcoming, inviting atmosphere.
“I think there’s just a tremendous amount of comfort,” Powell said. “Just the living space. There’s people that can stay here pretty extended amount of time.”
Powell is excited for the people who will use the house after him, and for the opportunity for his family to use it again.
“It’s not an easy road for a family to go through and for them to kind of recognize that and we represent a lot of families here,” Powell said. “It’s not just us. We’re very thankful and very honored.”
Gray said within the first year, they expect to house more than 500 families.