Ronald McDonald House moving to new, larger building on Lansing Avenue

Monday, October 28, 2013 | 8:12 p.m. CDT; updated 10:39 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 28, 2013
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri is preparing to move from East Stadium Drive to East Lansing Avenue. The new facility will offer more space and an elevator, which the current house lacks.

COLUMBIA — When Emily Powell's son Oliver was born about a month prematurely, he needed to be treated in the intensive care nursery at Boone Hospital Center.

Powell wanted to be close to her son while he was in the hospital, but she didn't want to make the three-hour round trip from her home in Kirksville to Columbia every day. She also wanted to avoid hotel and food costs.

Ronald McDonald House grand opening

When: 4 p.m. ribbon cutting, 5 p.m. dedication, Tuesday

Where: 3501 E. Lansing Ave.

What: Columbia residents are invited to attend the Ronald McDonald House's ribbon cutting ceremony and dedication. They will be able to explore the house afterward.

So when a social worker at Boone Hospital Center suggested staying at the Ronald McDonald House, Powell was open to the recommendation.

"It was a lifesaver for us," she said. "The Ronald McDonald House is above and beyond what you would expect."

After 30 years of providing families of hospitalized children with a place to stay, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mid-Missouri is moving Tuesday to a new building at 3501 E. Lansing Ave.

Families will check out of the old house on Stadium Boulevard on Wednesday morning and check into the new house on Wednesday evening, said Rachel Ellersieck, director of development and communications for the charity.

"We didn't want to displace families for even one night," Ellersieck said.

The house was paid for with about $2.4 million raised in a capital campaign. Fundraising efforts will continue in hopes of meeting the $2.6 million goal.

Disrepair and distance made the original Ronald McDonald House on Stadium Boulevard an unsuitable location, Ellersieck said.

The new house is intended to allow families to be closer to the medical buildings their children are staying in. It sits behind MU Women's and Children's Hospital and is within walking distance of several other medical buildings.

"When pediatric and newborn care services moved, it was important to get over there," Ellersieck said.

The new house will be able to host twice as many families as the original one, which hosted 324 families in 2012, according to the charity's website.

It has 18 bedrooms, for a total of 36 beds, including one suite for families who stay for a long time. Each guest will also have a private bathroom, a step up from the communal bathrooms in the original house, Ellersieck said.

Construction on the new house began in 2011, during Powell's first stay at the original house. She returned this year after her twins, Brooks and Meridith, were born at 28 weeks into her pregnancy and began treatment at the Boone Hospital Center. She expects to stay at the house for the next couple of months.

"The people in the house are in similar situations — there's a sense of camaraderie," Powell said. "It's a stressful time for the people who stay (here), and each person handles it differently."

Powell will be moving into the new house, which is also part of a nearby residential community. For families with children, the location serves as an unexpected bonus around Halloween, Ellersieck said.

"Families with children could take their kids trick or treating ... Thursday if they wanted to," Ellersieck said.

The new house includes three large indoor common areas, with flat screen televisions and a gaming center. Ellersieck hopes to add a small library.

Unlike before, the house meets the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, with an elevator and wider corridors. The lack of an elevator was a cause of concern in the old house, especially for new mothers, Ellersieck said.

Behind the house is a park area including a playground, a covered patio, a soccer field and a basketball court.

At the grand opening ceremony Tuesday, Ronald McDonald will present Powell with a commemorative key to the house.

Describing her time at the house, Powell gives the charity lots of praise. Being at the house means she has less to worry about during a hard time. She knows where she is staying, has a place to do her laundry and receives a hot, home-cooked meal every evening.

"To have been there at the start, and now as they're finishing ... I'm honored to be representing those who have been here over the years," Powell said.

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