Building Love, Expanding Hope
June 20, 2023
Written By Adam Buckallew
More lodging and support space will soon be available for families traveling to central Missouri to seek medical care for their children. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri has begun constructing a new, larger home at the corner of South College Avenue and Stadium Boulevard in Columbia. The charity is relocating to keep its facilities as close as possible to the University of Missouri’s new Children’s Hospital.
“Our focus is on providing a home away from home for families with sick or injured children, helping to ensure that every child has support and access to the best medical care,” said Terri Gray, executive director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri. “We know having families in a home close to MU Health Care’s new Children’s Hospital will be well worth the changes we must make in 2023. We are grateful to the community for their support during this transition.”
Keeping families close is not just a motto Gray said. It has been the heart of the mid-Missouri Ronald McDonald House for 40 years. Stress and financial burdens are lessened by keeping families together and nearby during a child’s medical crisis. The togetherness and Ronald McDonald House’s network of support help prevent feelings of isolation and make it easier to cope with difficult situations.
Ronald McDonald House’s proximity to care centers can significantly benefit parents with children in severe conditions, like premature babies.
“Imagine you are the new parent of a 3-pound baby who was placed in an incubator instead of your arms,” Gray said. “Suddenly, you are hours from home with your baby clinging to life. Thankfully, the Ronald McDonald House is close by as a safe and comfortable place to stay, so all your focus can be on your fragile newborn. If you get a call in the middle of the night that your baby has taken a turn for the worse, you can be there immediately for support. If you get a call in the middle of the night that your baby can finally feed from the bottle, you can be there immediately to celebrate. Minutes matter when you are a new parent whose child is surrounded by monitors and machines instead of family and friends.”
Families who stay at a Ronald McDonald House receive compassionate support and the daily amenities families require—warm meals every evening, comfortable beds in private rooms with attached bathrooms, laundry facilities, family play areas and more.
“Our house is built on the simple idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on healing their child—not where they can afford to stay, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest,” Gray said. “We believe that when a child is sick or injured, the love and support of family is critical.”
MFA Oil Company has committed to contributing $75,000 across three years to the charity’s campaign to fund the relocation and expansion of the Ronald McDonald House. The new 31,000-square-foot building, expected to open in Spring 2024, will have six additional guest bedrooms, housing for up to 24 families per night, expanded recreational and living areas, a large eat-in kitchen, an exercise room, outdoor play areas, and ample parking spaces.
“We are so grateful for the contributions from MFA Oil in helping us build the new Ronald McDonald House,” Gray said. “These gifts are more than an investment in a building—they are an investment in the lives of so many kids and their families, as well as our local community. Their support ensures we have room for every family who needs us—at no cost to the family.”
While the new home is under construction, Ronald McDonald House is temporarily serving families at the Drury Plaza Inn and Suites in Columbia. The charity covers lodging, breakfast, dinner and snacks, and has staff at the hotel around the clock to assist families and provide shuttle services to and from the hospital and medical facilities.
To donate to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri or inquire about its services, visit rmhcmidmo.org.