Columbus’ Ronald McDonald House expands its services, funding


As the area’s hospital systems grow, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio, which houses the families of seriously ill children, has followed right along.

In 2014, RMHC of Central Ohio added 42 guest rooms and acquired single-family homes for extended-stay families. The idea for another option came when a family with four daughters planned to leave two back in Australia because rooms only accommodate four people, says CEO and Executive Director Dee Anders.

Then, it took a second to adjust to running the additional space.

“Once you’ve grown so much, you want to take just a small period of time to make sure that you’re still delivering quality programs, in addition to raising additional funds that you need for operations,” Anders says.

A house within

The growth continued last year with a 1,000-square-foot Ronald McDonald Family Room at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.

“They are, as you can imagine, catching on pretty quickly because there is such a need. It’s basically a Ronald McDonald House within the walls of the hospital,” Anders says.

The room differs from a waiting room, because it includes washers, dryers, showers and a kitchenette. These amenities are needed if, for example, your baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit, Anders says. The parents can stay close by, but still grab a shower or get a haircut.

RMHC of Central Ohio is planning to open another family room in the new Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Cultivating new sources

With the expansions, though, came the need to increase operating funds.

“We started a vehicle donation program, which is really starting to take off,” Anders says.

Another key was sending the development team to outer communities. She says it took a leap of faith to commit the manpower to the surrounding counties.

“We felt that the smart way to do it was to actually set up funds at their community foundations. So, folks can keep the money local and support families from that area, but still be funding the Ronald McDonald House,” Anders says.

The local foundations liked the idea, which isn’t something she’s heard of other houses doing.

“We knew that we had a lot of families from those areas, so it just made sense to go out and educate people a little bit further,” Anders says.

So far, people have been very generous, which is good because Anders and her team want to be ready for the next expansion, when it’s needed.


By the numbers

  • Of the 350 Ronald McDonald Houses, the Columbus house is the largest with 137 rooms. It also owns seven single-family homes.
  • The house operates with zero government funding. It’s all donations. In nearly 10 years, Anders has never bought toilet paper or paper towels.
  • Each month, it takes 550 volunteers to run the house and 120 to operate the family room.