Since its opening in 1985, the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City has provided families a place to stay while their child is receiving medical treatment at local hospital.
Now, the Ronald McDonald House is seeking the community’s help as its kitchen is remodeled in the coming months.
Shannon Greene, executive director at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois, said the kitchen remodel comes after the organization realized the house needed an update.
The organization has spent the last two years on a “head-to-toe refresh,” working on the guest rooms, common areas, flooring, painting and offices.
“Now we’re to the big part, which is sort of the heart of the house, and that is our kitchen,” Greene said. “We know it’s time to modernize it a bit and make it more efficient.”
The house is looking to increase the size of the kitchen area, create a separate kitchen section where community groups can come in and prepare meals for the families, and an open area for all of our families to use.
“In order to end up with this fantastic kitchen, we have to be without a kitchen for several months while they’re working and completing the construction project, and that’s where our need lies,” Greene said. “We are asking the community for help in us being able to provide meals, snacks, water, coffee, all of the things that we have available for families during a time when we cannot have an open kitchen.”
Currently, the house has a temporary kitchen set up in its sunroom area. However, the organization will need to cater meals and offer more “to-go” options for families.
“We’re looking for help from the community to help us continue to feed our families when they are here. It really is the center of what we do, being away from home, knowing you’ve got a place to come to get something, to eat to get a hot meal,” Greene said.
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‘It’s been absolutely life-changing’: Ronald McDonald house helps keep families afloat during tough times
For Tiffany Kacamarcik, the Ronald McDonald House Iowa City has been a needed home away from home as her daughter stays in the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
Kacamarik arrived in Iowa City in early March after learning her daughter, Addison, would be born prematurely. Addison has been in the neonatal intensive care unit while the Kacamariks have lived in the Ronald McDonald House.
The house was able to provide Kacamarik, her husband and two children a room to stay in while her daughter stayed in the hospital. Upon arrival, she said it was unbelievable what was provided for them.
“This nonprofit in Iowa City, and that specific charity, was able to provide everything my family needed, and so I didn’t have to worry about anything. All I needed to do was worry about the health of my baby,” Kacamarik said. “It’s been absolutely life-changing, and it’s been such a blessing.”
Along with the room for her family, the house provided donated toiletries, towels, food and snacks for the parents on the go. There hasn’t been anything Kacamarik needed that was not available to her, she said.
“Sometimes you’re under so much stress and so much is going on, it’s hard to remember to take care of yourself,” she said. “I feel like Ronald McDonald House does a really good job of making it very easy for us to take care of ourselves during this time.”
The Ronald McDonald House is a fun experience for her children, Kacamarik said, as opposed to being frightening or stressful. They even went as far as to bring in special guests that her children enjoyed, like local police officers and canine units.
“They actually think about things to keep my family entertained and to make this awful, this really difficult time in our life, as easy as possible,” she said.
How can you help? Ways to donate to the Iowa City Ronald McDonald House
There are multiple ways to help the house as it undergoes its transformation:
- People can make donations toward the house’s food fund online at https://rmhc-eiwi.org/donate/no-kitchen/ or by calling 319-356-3939
- For a more general donation, people can also make donations online at https://rmhc-eiwi.org/donate-online/
- Families or businesses can volunteer to cater a night’s meal from a local restaurant
- People can donate items, like snacks, that parents can grab on their way to the health care facilities. Check out the house’s wishlist of items online at https://rmhc-eiwi.org/get-involved/wishlists/.
Any support members of the community can offer is appreciated, Greene said.
“I know this is a tough time for everybody, with gas and food prices and coming through COVID. And there’s been so many challenges for everyone that we recognize that asking for support for the families we serve is another thing during a difficult time, and we’re just really grateful for anybody that’s in the position to help us out,” she said.