Ronald McDonald House of Columbia is set to break ground next month on a new residential facility that will provide services to more families with sick or injured children.
The new 15,500-square-foot house will be on a 3-acre site on the campus of Palmetto Health Richland at Harden Street and Colonial Drive. It will double the number of family bedrooms from eight to 16 and will include four living rooms, a state-of-the-art kitchen, a 50-seat dining room, elevators and other amenities.
The house, which is expected to open next spring, will replace the current home at 2955 Colonial Drive that opened more than 30 years ago.
The Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for families of seriously ill children who are being treated at area hospitals. Karen Marinelli, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Columbia executive director, spoke recently about the $5.6 million effort and the hopes of keeping families together when a child is in an area medical facility.
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What primarily fueled the belief that the house should be expanded?
In 2012, 102 families were turned away, 2013 it was 124 and 2014 we did not have a room for 167 families. The numbers just keep climbing and we had to do something. The most difficult thing we have to do is to tell a family that we don’t have a room available for them. This new house will change that and make a difference.
What are some of the special amenities that will be offered to families who stay at the new home?
The Ronald McDonald House is open 365 days a year, providing 24-hour assistance to families when their child is sick or injured. We will continue to offer families private guest rooms with private bathrooms, provide three meals a day and arrange transportation to and from the hospital. Our new house will not only offer a warm place to sleep and eat but also comfort, love and understanding during a stressful, and sometimes heartbreaking time.
So what are the desired outcomes of the new house?
The new house will alleviate the current issues associated with maintaining a building that is more than 30 years old and only able to accommodate eight families at one time, causing 167 families to be turned away in 2014. This larger house will enable us to expand our mission and to serve more families, giving families staying with us the greatest gift of all, the gift of togetherness.
What aspect of the new house are you personally most excited about?
Other than doubling the number of guest rooms, I would have to say having on-site office space for all staff, interns and volunteers. This will be the first time in my seven years with RMHC that the entire staff will be working in the same building. Another really exciting thing is the new house will have a toy room, and each child staying with us will get to go in and pick out whatever they want. I can’t pick just one. ... a state-of-the-art kitchen, outside dining area, the list goes on.
How much more money is needed for the effort and how can the public help financially?
We need to raise an additional $1.1 million to reach our goal. Our financial goal is still large and we need help to make this new house a reality. People can give at rmhcofcolumbia.org or mail checks to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Columbia, SC, 2955 Colonial Drive, Columbia, SC 29203.