Frequently Asked Questions
GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT RONALD McDONALD HOUSE AND RONALD McDONALD HOUSE CHARITIES
WHAT IS A RONALD McDONALD HOUSE?
A Ronald McDonald House is a home-away-from home for families of children being treated for serious illness or injury. Many families travel to large medical centers to get the best treatment for their children. Ronald McDonald Houses provide a safe, comfortable place for a family to stay as they face the trauma of their child’s illness. A family can stay in the House at a very nominal charge while their child is being diagnosed and treated for illness.
WHERE WAS THE FIRST RONALD McDONALD HOUSE?
The first House opened in Philadelphia in 1974. Fred Hill, a football player with the Philadelphia Eagles, saw the need for a place for families to stay while their children were in the hospital. His own daughter was being treated for leukemia, and he saw parents sleeping on hospital waiting room floors because they wanted to be close to their child.
HOW MANY RONALD McDONALD HOUSES ARE THERE?
There are 288 Houses worldwide in the United States and 30 other countries. Approximately 6,000 rooms are available every night at Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide.
WHAT IS RONALD McDONALD HOUSE CHARITIES, AND HOW IS THAT DIFFERENT FROM THE RONALD McDONALD HOUSE?
© RMHC was established in memory of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s. RMHC-Global is the international organization based in Oak Park, Illinois, where McDonald’s headquarters are located. RMHC-Global helps Ronald McDonald Houses by arranging contributions from national partners for all Houses and by providing financial and technical/training support. RMHC-Global licenses all © RMHC programs internationally, including our local © RMHC chapter.
Locally, RMHC-Rio Grande Valley is the organization that owns and operates our local Ronald McDonald House. The local Ronald McDonald House is the primary program operated by RMHC-Rio Grande Valley.
ARE ALL RONALD McDONALD HOUSES THE SAME?
No, each is very unique. All Ronald McDonald Houses operate under licensing guidelines from Ronald McDonald House Charities – Global; however, each Ronald McDonald House is independent of the others and makes its own rules. And, each Ronald McDonald House is different because of the populations and medical communities it serves. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, our Ronald McDonald House serves primarily (93 percent) families from the immediate area, Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties. That’s very different from other Houses where most of the families are from far away.
THE VALLEY’S OWN RONALD McDONALD HOUSE
WHERE IS THE VALLEY’S RONALD McDONALD HOUSE?
The House is located at 1720 Treasure Hills Blvd. across the street from Valley Baptist Medical Center’s East Tower and between UT-Health Science Center at San Antonio’s Regional Academic Health Center and Su Clinica Familiar in Harlingen, Texas.
HOW LONG HAS THE RONALD McDONALD HOUSE OF THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY BEEN OPEN?
We opened on March 2, 1998.
WHAT HOSPITALS ARE SERVED?|
We are licensed to serve all hospitals of the Rio Grande Valley who are serving the medical needs of children. Most of our families are referred through Valley Baptist Medical Center.
WHAT’S THE VALLEY’S RONALD McDONALD HOUSE LIKE?
The House is one story, 9,000 square feet with the capacity of housing six families. It a living room, dining room, laundry room, quiet room, family/game room, play room, spacious kitchen, fenced backyard, plenty of storage space and a large pantry. Each of 6 bedrooms room can accommodate up to four people. The bedrooms are similar to a hotel room in size and furnishing, but with a more personal, home-like atmosphere. Each bedroom has a private bathroom and a telephone.
DOES THE HOUSE HAVE A DOCTOR OR NURSE ON ITS STAFF?
No. The House is a lodging facility that gives families a respite from the hospital and does not provide any medical treatment.
DOES THE HOUSE PROVIDE COUNSELING?
There is no formal counseling program, but families do get support from the staff, the volunteers, and other House families. Families do a wonderful job of counseling each other. They share fears and hope as well as practical information and often lasting friendships are made.
DOES THE HOUSE PROVIDE FOOD FOR THE FAMILIES?
The Ronald McDonald House in Harlingen does provide some staples for families as we receive wonderful support from the Valley community in the form of food donations. Often, evening meals are provided through community donations. Families may also cook their own meals in the common kitchen. They are welcome to use our donated food items and are assigned refrigerator and cabinet space for the foods they purchase.
DOES THE HOUSE PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION?
Transportation is not routinely provided, but if a family has special needs the House staff will work to identify a source to provide transportation.
IS THERE MAID SERVICE?
No. The House has a housekeeper who cleans the common areas of the House, but families are expected to keep their own rooms clean, do their own dishes in the kitchen, and their own laundry.
IS THERE BABYSITTING SERVICE PROVIDED?
The House does not provide babysitting service. Parents are required to be responsible for their own children at all times providing supervision of any child under the age of 18.
IS THERE A CURFEW?
No. Because we recognize that a child’s changing medical condition can require parental care at any time, there is no curfew and all families may come and go according to their needs. For security reasons, the doors are locked 24 hours a day. There is RMHCRGV staff on duty or on call 24 hours a day to answer the door. A security system is activated during the night.
ARE ACTIVITIES PLANNED FOR THE FAMILIES IN THE HOUSE?
Because our occupancy changes daily, it can be difficult to plan activities in advance. Many times, volunteers and staff will coordinate spontaneous activities. On special occasions and holidays, groups often coordinate holiday-themed activities and celebrations.
RONALD MCDONALD FAMILY ROOMS
WHAT IS A RONALD MCDONALD FAMILY ROOM?
A Ronald McDonald Family Room is an area set aside inside a hospital intended to serve as a quiet rest area for family members of children admitted to the hospital for treatment. It replicates the home-like atmosphere for parents who need a break from the hospital environment. It may be equipped with a kitchen, dining area, seating area, shower, laundry facilities and up to four bedrooms, depending on the expected needs of the families it serves.
A Ronald McDonald Family Room is a place for respite, relaxation and privacy within the walls of the hospital. It provides an oasis of calm and normalcy amidst the tense, chaotic, medical setting, yet parents are just steps away from their child’s bedside.
A Ronald McDonald Family Room is a flexible way to meet the unique needs of different hospitals, families and communities.
HOW MANY FAMILY ROOMS ARE THERE, AND WHERE ARE THEY LOCATED?
The first family room in the Valley was built February 26, 2009 in Edinburg, Texas at Edinburg Children’s Hospital. Plans for future building of Family Rooms include McAllen, Weslaco, Harlingen and Brownsville.
OUR HOUSE FAMILIES
WHO CAN STAY AT THE RONALD McDONALD HOUSE?
The House accepts the family of any child 18 or under who is being treated at any of the Valley’s hospitals or medical clinics. We define œfamily broadly to refer to anyone needed for emotional support or to assist in the care of the patient.
DO CHILDREN STAY AT THE HOUSE?
Usually, children who are patients do not stay at the House, except when the child is being treated on an outpatient basis. Often, our House families include young siblings of the patient, so the House does frequently have children in residence. In 2006, the House was home to more than 100 children whose siblings were hospitalized.
HOW IS A FAMILY REFERRED TO THE HOUSE?
They may be referred to the House by their physician, nurse, or social worker, or they may call themselves to request admittance. We do not make reservations; rooms are confirmed on arrival.
ARE THERE INCOME GUIDELINES FOR STAYING AT THE HOUSE?
When a child is ill or injured, a family’s needs have very little to do with income “ and therefore we have no economic requirements for staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Family income is not a consideration for a family’s admittance. All families are requested to pay a $10 payment per night toward their stay. This fee is waived if the family cannot pay due to financial constraints. In 2006, 93 percent of our families had their fee reduced or waived.
DOES A FAMILY HAVE TO LIVE A SPECIFIC DISTANCE FROM THE HOUSE TO BE ELIGIBLE TO STAY?
No. Even families who live within the city limits of Harlingen may be too far away from their hospitalized child if the child is in Intensive Care or some other critical care unit. Ninety-three percent of the families who stay at the Valley’s Ronald McDonald House live in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr or Willacy counties.
ADMINISTRATION AND STAFFING
WHO OPERATES RMHC OF THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY?
The Board of Directors of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Rio Grande Valley makes policy decisions affecting the organization and the House. The Board hires the Executive Director, who is responsible for carrying out that policy and accomplishing the goals set out by the Board. A House Manager, who reports to the Executive Director, makes many day-to-day decisions.
MANY STAFF MEMBERS ARE THERE?
The day staff consists of: an Executive Director, a House Manager, a Family Room Manager, a Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator, a Secretary/Receptionist, several House Coordinators and a Housekeeper. Overnight and on weekends the House is staffed with one of several House Coordinators. Of course, the Ronald McDonald House of the Rio Grande Valley could not survive without the many volunteers who give of their time to help run the House.
WHAT DO VOLUNTEERS DO?
Volunteers are the heart of our Ronald McDonald House. Volunteers work in the reception area, help in the administrative offices, help clean the House, assist with fundraisers and much more. Last year, more than 5,700 volunteer hours were logged.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RUN THE VALLEY’S RONALD McDONALD HOUSE?
The budgeted expenses for RMHC-Rio Grande Valley are approximately $400,000 annually.
DOES McDONALD’S CORPORATION SUBSIDIZE THE HOUSE?
Not directly. McDonald’s Corporation encourages the owners and operators of local McDonald’s restaurants to participate in national and local promotions benefiting Ronald McDonald Houses. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, we are fortunate to have the generous support from the Valley’s McDonald’s restaurant owners/operators. In 2006, programs they supported, initiated or managed accounted for approximately 25 percent of our operating revenue.
HOW DOES THE HOUSE RAISE THE REST OF ITS REVENUE?
The House receives financial gifts from individuals, organizations, businesses, corporations, and foundations as well as in-kind goods and services from businesses, organizations and individuals. We hold two main fundraising events annually: the Wild Game Feast and our golf tournament.