All July, we will be publishing posts about our partner charities on the Balsam Hill Facebook page, and we are inviting you to extend a helping hand by liking, sharing, or commenting. On your behalf, Balsam Hill will donate $0.50 per like and $1 for every comment or share. On July 31, we will publish a special post where you can comment the name of your chosen charity to contribute $1 to their cause. This week, we’re shining the light on the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford.
Ronald McDonald House at Stanford (the House) was founded in 1979 to create a safe and supportive environment for families with seriously ill or injured children. It has since become the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world and can accommodate up to 123 families every night. Learn more about Ronald McDonald House at Stanford in our interview below:
Could you tell us more about your charity and its advocacy?
Ronald McDonald House at Stanford provides a comfortable place to stay and a supportive community for families of critically ill children who relocate to Palo Alto for specialized medical treatment at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford (LPCHS). Our mission was founded on the belief that seriously ill children have a greater likelihood of successful outcomes if their families are together in a supportive environment close to the hospital.
What inspired you to start this charity, and how did it all begin?
The House opened its doors in May 1979 as the fifth of now 365 Ronald McDonald Houses around the world. At that time, the House provided accommodations for 13 families every night, including private bedrooms and bathrooms, a community kitchen and dining room. Over the past 38 years, the House has expanded multiple times to meet increasing demand for family care services. In 2016, we opened a 67-room expansion and recently unveiled extensive renovations to our 56-room legacy building. The House now provides a continuum of care to 123 families every night and has become the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world.
In what ways does Ronald McDonald House at Stanford give back to the community?
Families who stay at the House uproot their lives for their children’s complex medical treatment – often without warning. The stress of these experiences can be overwhelming. The House offers families opportunities to bond, rest and engage through a comprehensive mix of creative, safe, and participatory programming to ease their stress and allow parents to focus on what matters most – the health and well-being of their children.
Dedicated spaces for toddlers, children, and teens offer room to play and make friends. An onsite classroom, daily youth activities and seasonal day camps create outlets for fun, learning, and a sense of normalcy for children while living far from home. Comfortable, purposeful common areas allow parents places to relax, recharge and share their experiences. Group events and volunteer meal services – offered at no-cost to families nearly every day of the year – allow for valuable time spent together.
Families unable to stay at the House due to capacity limitations or who live nearby and do not require overnight accommodation are welcome to access all House resources during the day.
What challenges does your organization face, and how do you overcome them?
Capacity limitations have been the biggest challenge for the House, meaning all the rooms are full and we cannot accommodate more families in need.
In 2014, lengthening wait lists, increasing lengths of stay, and a planned 100-bed expansion to LPCHS compelled the House to announce its current $46.5 million, multi-phase capital expansion. Now weeks from completion, the expansion increases capacity from 47 to 123 family rooms, enhances supportive programming, and facilitates critical pediatric healthcare access for substantially more families.
The milestones of our four-year journey toward expansion are owed to exceptional partnerships and generous community support. This essential growth allows the House to eliminate its wait list, welcome more families into its supportive community, and keep more families close every night.
This is Balsam Hill’s fourth consecutive year conducting philanthropic activities during Christmas in July. We are joined by the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Idaho, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, Ronald McDonald House and Point Hope as charity partners.