WAUWATOSA — The Ronald McDonald House has always served as a home away from home for both children and their parents. And thanks to a new expansion project in Wauwatosa, the Eastern Wisconsin house is about to get a lot bigger for families who need it most.
"The Ronald McDonald house housed us and we will forever be grateful," said Sheila Phan.
For Sheila Phan and her daughter Aja, the Eastern Wisconsin Ronald McDonald House will forever be a part of their lives. This comes after they spent more than a year living there after Aja was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia and haploid thyroid cancer.
"The house has been with me through everything, from the hospital even before going to the hospital, to getting out, to throughout the whole recovery," said Aja.
Aja and her mom were just one of 70 families that can be housed at this Ronald McDonald House in Wauwatosa while their children who are seriously ill are treated at Children's Wisconsin. But a new $10 million expansion project will soon give 14 additional families the chance to receive all the care that the Ronald McDonald House has to offer.
"This expansion is definitely going to be meaningful to all parents out there, even though they do not know it yet," said Sheila.
By next year, a new long-term wing with 14 guest rooms will be built for families who stay at the Ronald McDonald House for 60 days or longer. The expansion also includes a guest kitchen, a patio and play area, lower-level storage, a loading dock, playroom, community room, and much more.
"Unfortunately, the rooms are always needed. The more rooms, the more families that will have an opportunity to stay here when they need it," said Chief Happiness Officer, Ronald McDonald.
The Eastern Wisconsin Ronald McDonald House is just one of three houses located in Wisconsin. And families are referred to stay there often by local hospitals that treat children from birth up until 21 years old.
"Any family who has a serious medical issue can come to the Ronald McDonald House and stay. We don't charge to stay. Our mission is to serve families and to give them a home away from home, and we need to have rooms to do that," said Ann Petrie, the President & CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern Wisconsin.
Officials add that they hope to have the entire building completed by the spring of 2022. This would be the third expansion to be made at the Wauwatosa location.