Families traveling to Omaha in search of pediatric medical care will no longer have to worry about where they’ll stay during their child’s treatment. With the completion of a $10.3-million expansion, we are now able to accommodate 40 families every single night, doubling our capacity and allowing for new programming from collaborative partners to better serve families in need.
On May 9, 2019, we hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony, welcoming many of our donors to celebrate the opening of the expanded facility. Among the speakers during the program were Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, Dr. David F. Mercer, M.D., Ph.D. of Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Stefanie Christensen of the CL Werner Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities in Omaha Executive Director Lindsey Rai Kortan, and Angels Among Us (AAU) Executive Director Susie Nelson. AAU is another nonprofit that offers financial assistance to families battling pediatric cancer, and they have now moved their offices into the RMHC facility.
The expansion project doubled the size of the House, adding approximately 20,000 square feet of space, including 20 more guest rooms, which will eliminate a waiting list that forced us to turn families away roughly 1,600 times over a two-year span.
In addition to the guest rooms, we incorporated several new support spaces, including one that has never been seen in any other Ronald McDonald House: an in-House treatment center to be independently operated by local medical partners.
Kortan says, “We’ve always been confident in our ability to provide hope and hospitality to these families, but we knew we could do more. We wanted this House to be a place where families could find a sense of normalcy in the midst of such traumatic and chaotic circumstances. That means they have a place where they can watch movies, play games, get a haircut, and have access to the resources they need.”
Our House also has a salon, volunteer room, glass-encased toy room, contemplation room, and many other areas strategically designed to create a comprehensive healing community capable of serving the entire family. That includes bringing in partners like AAU, Completely KIDS, WhyArts, and others to provide programs for every individual who walks in the doors.
Dr. Mercer spoke praises for creating new programs and welcomed the community to be a part of the process. “This is a center of innovation. If you can come up with other ideas, if you can help us, we can make it a reality.”
Mayor Stothert graciously thanked Omaha for supporting such an endeavor, and reinforced the pride the community has in taking care of the families staying in the House. “These families see firsthand that Omaha is a community of caring and compassion. We work together and support each other. We recognize the needs and we take action. When we cut a ribbon this morning, we create hope for families who need much more than just shelter. Thank you for providing a welcoming home away from home.”
To thank the community for their support, we hosted a Grand Opening Open House and Community Fair on Saturday, May 11, where visitors enjoyed tours of the House, as well as food, games, and entertainment. Community partners such as Benson First Friday, WhyArts, Completely Kids, McDonald’s, Omaha Police Department, Werner Enterprises, Angels Among Us, Holland Basham Architects, and Mustaches 4 Kids were in attendance, providing entertainment and games for visitors. Mascots such as Ronald McDonald, Omaha Storm Chasers’ Stormy, Creighton Billy Bluejay, Thor and Wonder Woman were also in attendance.
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It takes a community to build a community and we are so very grateful for everyone who participated in the Hope & Healing expansion. We look forward to creating the new normal for families who need it most. For more information or to schedule a tour, please call 402-346-9377.