A soft place to land. A home-away-from-home. A much-needed support system in the face of unimaginable stress. All are ways that employees and beneficiaries alike have described Salt Lake City’s 75-room Ronald McDonald House where the mission is to surround families with the support they need to be near and care for their seriously ill or injured children.
Serving families with patients at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, the University of Utah Hospital, and Shriners Children’s Salt Lake City, Ronald McDonald House Charities Intermountain Area (RMHC) strives to be more than just a no-cost hotel.
“We provide practical support with free lodging, food, and transportation, but we also try to invite joyful distractions to make the House somewhere kids and families are excited to be,” says Carrie Romano, CEO of RMHC.
Alongside their lodgings in downtown Salt Lake City, RMHC also runs Family Rooms at area hospitals, providing places for families to shower, run a load of laundry, or simply unwind while still remaining close to their child, whether they are receiving day-of treatment or admitted to the hospital for long term care.
“All of our programming is family-centered and aims to support caregivers,” says Katie Smith, Chief Development and Marketing Officer. “We believe that if parents have their needs met, they will be in a better position to help their child heal.”
Sara and Kelton Crittenden of Rexburg, Idaho are one of many families who have benefited from RMHC’s facilities and have utilized both the Family Rooms and the lodging and transportation services available at the House as they support their infant daughter, Sierra, through her journey awaiting a heart transplant.
“We have gotten to know the staff really well and are so grateful for their support. Sometimes it’s nice just to have someone to talk to outside of doctors,” Sara says. “Everyone is so supportive and it makes us feel good to be able to show off how strong Sierra is despite everything she is going through.”
While the RMHC team receives much generative support from local McDonald’s owners/operators and private funds, the mission is truly fueled by community support, in many forms. RMHC encourages local volunteers to get involved, whether by hosting magic shows and movie nights, helping make meals for families, or collecting toiletry items to donate, in addition to monetary donations.