After a year of fundraising, the Birmingham Ronald McDonald House has broken ground on an expansion that will increase its capacity by more than 50 percent, and improve the lives of hundreds of families as a result.
The facility, which opened in 2007, allows families to stay close to their children who are being treated at UAB, Children's of Alabama (the third largest pediatric medical facility in the country) and other nearby hospitals. But with just 41 guest suites, the home was nearly always at capacity, which forced the charity organization to turn down families on a nightly basis. A staggering 55 families were on the waiting list during the summer of 2015.
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“We went from 12 rooms to 41 rooms and of course when you move in and you’re quadrupling your size, you think, ‘Oh, wow, this is great this will last us for so long,'” Randy Nichols, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama board of directors president, recalled in a statement. “But we now average 12 families on our wait list every night. We decided over the last couple of years that was not acceptable to us and our mission so we undertook efforts to expand.”
After raising more than $7.5 million, the Birmingham house is finally able to fund the much-needed expansion. The new 28,543-square-foot wing will almost double the occupancy and reduce the number of families on the waiting list. Included in the renovations are a new family center with a game room, a volunteer kitchen and a larger dining room. AL.com reports that the expansion is expected to take approximately 10 months.
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“Ronald McDonald House is more than just a room to sleep in. It’s families and staff sharing meals together, praying about each other’s struggles and just rejoicing in the smallest victories,” parent Amy May said in a statement.
Birmingham Ronald McDonald House still needs help covering any unforeseen expenses that pop up, as they always do in projects of this scope. To donate, visit rmhca.org/expand.