On Thursday morning, members of the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation awarded the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Ann Arbor a $36,000 grant for their notable work.
The Ronald McDonald House provides lodging for the families of children being treated at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital across the street. Mott is a component of the University of Michigan’s medical infrastructure.
Julaine LeDuc, director of development for the Ronald McDonald House, said the house aims to provide comfort and convenience to families facing a difficult situation.
“The mission of Ronald McDonald House is to provide a home away from home for families whose children are seriously ill or injured and are hospitalized at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital,” LeDuc said. “We provide rooms, meals, each bedroom has a private bath, and families can stay for as long as they need to stay while their child is in the hospital.”
The Masons’ donation is a part of their annual B.E.S.T. Grant, an acronym for build, enrich, strengthen and transform. The Masons award $1 million dollars split between seven causes chosen from 88 applicants. Executive Director Walt Wheeler said the Ronald McDonald House stood out in the applicant pool for its truly influential work.
“Really, the deciding factor is that we try to look at what’s going to have the most impact — what’s really going to change a person’s life or really make a difference in a person’s life,” Wheeler said. “And obviously the things the Ronald McDonald House does are just amazing.”
The Ronald McDonald House has undergone extensive renovations over the past decade. They launched a new program where volunteers push a hospitality cart around the hospital, complete with hair ties, phone chargers and whatever else families may need. The house has been expanded and re-outfitted from the house originally built in 1985, with new housing in the hospital just steps away from the Newborn and Pediatric Intensive Care Units at Mott.
The Alpha Delta Pi sorority pairs with Ronald McDonald House for their primary philanthropy, and the University’s chapter works closely with the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor year after year. LSA junior Sarah Daly is the formerly philanthropy chair of Alpha Delta Pi. She said it’s important for students to be aware of and support the Ronald McDonald House.
“Everyone can feel connected because it’s so close to campus and its children are staying at the Mott’s Hospital which is right on campus right next to Markley,” Daly said. “Students have the ability to go in and cook dinner for the families and see the impact they can make and the impact the Ronald McDonald house is making on the families.”
Daly spent time in a Ronald McDonald House when she was younger while her cousin received medical care. She said the organization’s cause still has a place in the hearts of herself and her family.
“They don’t ask the families to pay,” Daly said. “That’s another thing that’s so special is that these families are able to stay there, feel warm, feel like they’re at home for free or for a small donation, but those rooms do cost a lot of money. That’s why they need people like us to help take care of them, volunteer but also donate money.”
It costs approximately $100 per night to house one family. With 44 rooms and those at capacity nearly all of the time, LeDuc said it becomes expensive to keep the house up and running. The Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation’s grant will cover a year’s worth of occupancy for one of the rooms.
“We receive a few very large donations a year,” LeDuc said. “This is certainly one of our largest donations, and we’re incredibly grateful to the Masons for providing this wonderful community grant.”
LeDuc said that donations like the Masons’ grant or Alpha Delta Pi’s efforts are what sustain the organization.
“We rely on the community and appreciate the community support that we receive,” LeDuc said.