The Journal Gazette
Monday, January 03, 2022 1:00 am

McDonald House growing at 20

CEO hints to big announcement soon on extending services

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Indiana has a secret to spill as it marks the 20th anniversary of opening its first facility in Fort Wayne.

CEO Jen Veatch teased the upcoming announcement during an interview Sunday with The Journal Gazette, but she didn't divulge details beyond saying the organization is extending its services.

“We've grown a lot,” Veatch said. “We're always looking for volunteers.”

That growth, she said, will create even more opportunities for those willing to help. About 60 people now volunteer for the local nonprofit.

What began in 2002 as a Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Parkview Randallia is now a Ronald McDonald House celebrating its 10th anniversary at Parkview Regional Medical Center.

A home away from home to families of sick or injured children, the facility offers amenities including a full kitchen, laundry room, daily meals and snacks, and mental wellness support. Pre-pandemic, it annually served about 600 families, mostly Hoosiers, including those who live nearby, Veatch said.

Families, who are referred to the service, are never charged regardless of their length of stay, which average 21/2 weeks, Veatch said, but some families stay months. 

Although the facility can accommodate more than a dozen families at once, Veatch said it's not unusual for demand to exceed capacity, leading to wait lists. Sometimes, she said, the organization has the resources – such as a grant – to provide waiting families with hotel rooms.

“That's why we're looking to the future,” Veatch said.

In July 2018, the organization launched the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile – a doctor's office on wheels – to provide health services, such as wellness visits and shots, to children at no charge to families without insurance. According to the organization's annual reports, it treated more than 1,200 patients in about 10 counties through 2020.

The Ronald McDonald House in Fort Wayne is among more than 375 worldwide. Most of the programming funds come from individuals, organizations and businesses, according to Ronald McDonald House Charities.

In 2020, the local chapter reported almost $983,000 in expenses and more than $1 million in revenue, including $223,522 in individual and corporate gifts, $138,533 in grants and $102,116 from canister and McDonald's promotions.

Financial gifts are the local chapter's greatest need, allowing the organization to buy whatever it needs at the moment, Veatch said. Its website describes what an amount could support; for example, $50 could supply grab-and-go breakfast items and $1,620 could cover a family's 18-day stay.

The website – – also includes a wish list and an online volunteer application form.

After applying, she said, prospective volunteers come in for an interview and shadow a shift to ensure it's a good fit. Duties include greeting guests, checking guests in and out, answering phones, restocking rooms and bathrooms, and light cleaning of kitchen and common areas.

Opportunities are also available for families seeking a one-time volunteering project.

“We like being involved when parents are trying to teach their kids about loving others,” Veatch said.

By the numbers

In 2020, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Indiana logged these accomplishments:

• 226 families served at Ronald McDonald House

• 3,085 total nights of stay

• 18 days, average stay

• 984 meals served through the Kindness Kitchen, which lets volunteers – such as families, co-workers and church groups – provide dinner for families living at the Ronald McDonald House

• 3,763 individuals served through the Comfort Cart, which visits pediatric units of the hospital with complimentary drinks, snacks, toiletries, games and toys

• 343 patients treated through Ronald McDonald Care Mobile

Source: 2020 Impact Report

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