I was honored when I received an invitation to spend an afternoon at the Orange County Ronald McDonald House with a small group of bloggers. I have known several families who have stayed there over the years and had heard many wonderful things about it and how much it helped these families during their most critical times, when worrying about something like where to sleep was the least of their concerns. The Orange County Ronald McDonald house, a program of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California, provides a home-away-from-home for families with critically-ill children.
Each and every Ronald McDonald house is located within a close proximity of a world class children’s hospital. The Orange County location is located in the city of Orange, very close the CHOC. Nearly 80% of families at the house have children being treated at CHOC, while the remaining families have children at UCI Medical center and other nearby medical facilities.
Our group got to spend some time listening to a remarkable young mother speak about her current experience staying at the house. She has a 4 month old infant son that was born in need of immediate 24 hour hospital care and while her little boy is being treated at CHOC, she is residing at The Orange County Ronald McDonald House. Her story was such an emotional one and really brought us all to tears right along with her, as she spoke. Hearing about all that the house has done for her made me happy for her, even though I know she is going through so much in this fight to be there for her son.
The tour of house gave us a little more insight about what goes on there and how it all works. It’s amazing to know a place like Ronald McDonald house exists for families. In a time where a family’s entire world has been turned upside-down, they have this huge resource to fall back on with very little asked in return. Having that security is something that can help keep a family together and able to support each other, rather than worrying about their own basic needs at a time when they just can’t.
Every family staying at the house has their own private room, which is a family-sized suite. Throughout the house, there are several communal areas for families to interact with staff and others staying there. There’s a kitchen, a dining room, family room, a playroom, a TV room, a sanctuary, and an outdoor patio area in the backyard. Each of these areas is very warm and inviting. Guests staying at the house also have access to computers and internet, as well as laundry facilities. There are 2 meals and snacks that are prepared daily in the kitchen for guests staying there. They also have access to the amazing kitchen to prepare their own food. Staff is available at the house, 24 hours a day, to help guests with anything they might need, which many times is emotional support.
Here are just a few facts about the Orange County Ronald McDonald house:
- The 20-room House is 12,500 sq. feet and opened in November 1989.
- It just celebrated 25 years of helping families with critically ill children to stay together and be close by.
- The House also operates 2 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms inside CHOC in Orange and CHOC in Mission Viejo. These rooms provide a place for for families to rest and relax inside the hospital, close to where their child is being treated.
- The Orange County Ronald McDonald House also has the ability to provide families with rooms in hotels that are close by, when the house is at capacity. These families stay in the hotel at night but are included in the meals and activities at Ronald McDonald house. The funds for the hotel stays are made possible through donations.
- There are plans to add on an addition to The Orange County Ronald McDonald House sometime within the next 5 years, using the lot adjacent to the property. This could provide housing for a lot more families, for which there is already a huge need.
The day we were visiting the house, there was a large group of ladies who had signed up to volunteer in the kitchen that day. They were cooking up a big batch of baked goods to leave out for the guests in the house. I’ve always wanted to sign up to volunteer in the house’s kitchen with a big group of friends. It seems like a very rewarding experience, knowing you’re cooking a meal or a snack for the guests in the house.
The Orange County Ronald McDonald house has many volunteer opportunities available and also accepts donations to help with the costs of everything they’re doing to help families in need. Click here for more information about how to volunteer in the house or to donate. To learn more about the house and Ronald McDonald Charities, click here.
It was such a privilege to be able to spend an afternoon in The Ronald McDonald House Orange County. Everyone there was so nice and before we left they sent each of us home with a snuggly red blanket that has the logo on it that’s recognized internationally. It’s really comfy to use when I’m home on my couch and it will always remember of my time at the house.