Ronald McDonald House Northland Celebrating 1st Anniversary
DULUTH, Minn. – Thursday marks the one year anniversary of the opening of the Ronald McDonald House Northland.
They have provided 739 nights of free lodging and amenities to parents and guardians as their child received treatment at Essentia Health. That translates to families saving more than 190-thousand dollars if they had to pay for their own hotel rooms, meals, and other expenses.
“It’s been an absolute, amazing whirlwind,” says Tara Gallagher, Program Manager for Ronald McDonald House Northland. “Since the moment that we opened the community has just been pouring love into the house and for the families that we support. There’s just been so much recognition from our greater community about how this space has been so much needed. So this has been a whirlwind.”
Staff and volunteers say they are grateful to have this place available to families after a decade of working to get it established. Steps that needed to be taken included updating services at Essentia Health to have a Level 2 Trauma Center for children, to finding a space that the Ronald McDonald House can be located, which is in the building at East 3rd Street and North 5th Avenue East, and then funding the house through Essentia Health Foundation and donations from the public.
The space can be described as a mini hotel space. Up to five families can stay there, with each getting their own separate room and bathroom. There is also a common area where people can gather for meals, play games, and just relax after spending time with their child in the hospital.
Gallagher says families have been grateful for having this location, which is the first one in the Northland. “The response has been overwhelmingly full of just gratitude. We receive thank you regularly from our families after they have left to say that they don’t know what they would have done without the Ronald McDonald house.”
The current space won’t be lasting long. Plans are in the works to transfer the house to the Essentia’s Vision Northland building once that is completed. It could also include expanding on the current amount of bedrooms available for families that need it.