The Connecticut chapter of the Ronald McDonald House Charity -— a nonprofit that provides housing for families with a child undergoing medical treatment far from home — will triple its current maximum capacity by 2025, when its new building opens across the street from Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital.
Currently, the Ronald McDonald House owns a building on 501 George St. that can house up to 25 families. When Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital donated an acre of land on Howard Avenue to the charity earlier this year, the charity decided to increase its capacity. The lot YNHCH donated contains two historic buildings which will be demolished to make way for the new Ronald McDonald House.
“[Parents] don’t want to leave a sick child alone for too long in a hospital. That’s why we’re building the house so close,” said Stocky Clark, executive director of the Connecticut chapter of the Ronald McDonald House Charity. “They just need to walk across the street to shower and do some business.”
The new Ronald McDonald House, estimated to cost $11.2 million, will be completed in three phases. The first phase, beginning next month, will involve the demolition of one of the two historic buildings and the creation of 18 bedrooms and two respite rooms in the new location. After phase one is completed in May 2017, phase two, which will involve a three-year relocation from the organization’s current George Street address to Howard Avenue, will begin. During the final stage of the process, the remaining building in the donated lot will be demolished and 24 more bedrooms will be added to the Howard Avenue building.
With 42 bedrooms, the new building will enable the Ronald McDonald House to provide more families with short- and long-term housing close to where their child is receiving treatment.
YNHCH also bought the Ronald McDonald House Charity’s George Street property, bringing the total value of the hospital’s gift to the charity to $2 million, said Stephen Merz, vice president and executive director of behavioral health at the Hospital.
Clark said YNHCH will convert the George Street property into conference rooms and offices for lease, to partially subsidize the building costs of the Howard Avenue property.
Currently, the charity’s George Street property has a $30,000 monthly operating cost. Each family staying at the house is asked to donate $15 a night to the charity, but families who cannot afford this can stay for free, Clark said.
He said the Ronald McDonald House is not a hotel, and that donations only bring the charity $20,000 a year.
The Howard Avenue building will resemble its predecessor, with a homey and not hotel-like interior design, Clark said.
Barry Svigals ’71 ARC ’76, the architect at Svigals and Partners designing the building, said the building will have large windows in order to allow natural light to fill the building and to expose it to nature.
“The new facility is designed with a welcoming entrance filled with greenery and trees,” Svigals said.
The Ronald McDonald House must now find 20 to 40 volunteers to support the daily operations of the house, Clark said. He added that Yale students are welcome to volunteer as individuals and in groups to help cook meals and lend a hand with other household tasks.
The Ronald McDonald House on George Street was built in 1985.