By Stefan Yablonski
To meet the evolving needs of families, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central New York has embarked on a $1 million expansion of the CNY Ronald McDonald House, at 1100 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, to create new family suites.
The organization will renovate more than 9,000 square feet of unfinished space on the fourth floor of the house, adding six new family suites to increase the capacity of the home and enable the nonprofit to better accommodate large and multigenerational guest families.
“For more than 40 years, the CNY Ronald McDonald House has been a place of love and support for families facing the unthinkable. While that will never change, we recognize that the needs of our guest families are growing and so our house must too,” said Beth Trunfio, executive director, RMHC of CNY. “We’re excited to build out our fourth floor with new family suites that will enable us to keep even more families comfortable and close when it matters most. Our chapter is celebrating 41 years in November 2023.”
The first RMH opened — it will be 50 years next year, she added.
The fourth floor expansion will feature four one-bedroom suites and two two-bedroom suites — providing a total of 14 beds to accommodate more guests. In addition to bedrooms, the suites will include private kitchenettes, bathrooms and living rooms. The floor will also feature shared laundry facilities.
The six new suites will enable the nonprofit to offer more family-centered spaces to large and multigenerational families while giving working parents and family members a designated space to work remotely during their stay. Additionally, the suites will provide a private living space to families with children who are immunocompromised, Trunfio added.
“When a family stays with us, parents, grandparents and siblings often stay at the house in order to remain together,” said Trunfio. “Our new family suites will help us to better serve those families, while increasing our capacity so that we may continue to serve even more families in need in the years ahead — especially as local hospitals continue to expand their services and future population growth is expected in the area.”
The CNY Ronald McDonald House serves as a temporary home for families with seriously ill children who travel to Syracuse for medical care. The house provides guest families with the convenience of a comfortable room and warm bed, home-cooked meals and snacks and support and compassion — all at no charge to the families — while keeping them close to Syracuse-area hospitals and medical centers. In the first six months of 2023 alone, 415 family stayed at the CNY Ronald McDonald House for a total of 1,782 nights.
How many served over the years?
“Oh gosh, you know — it would be tens of thousands,” she said. “Families are able to stay as long as their child is receiving medical care at one of the Syracuse area hospitals or clinics.
“For families who need to travel for care, being distanced from your child is truly unthinkable. The Ronald McDonald House takes away that situation. What we do here at RMH is truly eliminate any barrier for a family to access care for their child, whether it be just the distance to the hospital or a financial burden. There’s no charge to stay at a Ronald McDonald House. We provide home cooked meals or meals provided by our local restaurant partners.”
Most importantly is the care and comfort and support not only from the organization but from parents or other families who are going through the same thing, she explained. “It becomes this really organic support system.”
Construction on the expansion project began this fall and will be managed by Zausmer-Frisch Scruton & Aggarwal, who designed and built the CNY Ronald McDonald House in 2011-12, Trunfio said.
Services will not be interrupted for those currently staying at the house.