By MARIAH HENRY
In September, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri plans to break ground in Woodridge for a new Ronald McDonald House. The new location will be just west of Woodridge Park at the intersection of Lansing Avenue and Portland Street, one block from Columbia Regional Hospital.
Allen Hahn, Woodridge resident, said that he supports the plans for the new House, one of the reasons being that the site is now an eyesore of storage compartments and trailers. But mostly Hahn is glad that his neighborhood will be able to host the new Ronald McDonald House because of all the good the charity the organization does for families with sick children.
“Some of them, the kids here for cancer treatments, are here for months,” Hahn said. “The hotel bills would just pile up.”
Ronald McDonald Houses help lift the cost burden for families working through difficult times. The organization helps families of children with long-term illnesses, but they also help families whose children are in Columbia to be treated for injuries and short-term illnesses. Many people from rural communities don’t have hospitals in their towns, and some come great distances to be treated in Columbia.
“We serve families of children with any type of illness of injury,” said Shannon de Leon, director of development and communications for the charity.
Executive Director Melody Bezenek said the charity has raised just under one-third of the $2.6 million project. It plans to fundraise throughout the summer in order to raise as much of the full cost as possible before the September groundbreaking. Architectural plans are being finalized, but the construction will likely be completed by fall of 2011.
The new facility will have 18 private rooms with individual bathrooms (which is an upgrade from Columbia’s current Ronald McDonald House), and a communal rec room and kitchen.
The current House is located at the corner of Stadium and Monk, near the University Hospital. The new site is necessary because MU is moving its pediatric department from the main University Hospital buildings to Regional Hospital. The University owns the land that the current House is on. Moving the location of the Ronald McDonald House will get the families staying at the House closer to where their children are being treated. The University also owns the land at the new site in Woodridge, but has leased it to the Ronald McDonald House Charities for $1 per year for 50 years.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri is trying to ensure that affordable temporary housing is the least of a family’s worries when parents bring their sick children to Columbia for treatment. Bezenek said that she is “happy to meet with anyone who would like to donate and anyone who would just like more information about the project.”
To donate to the effort, or host your own fundraiser (bake sale, block party, etc) go to the charity’s website and click on the “How You Can Help” tab, or call 443-7666.