Funds sought to add to the Ronald McDonald House Operators need to raise $700,000 to build a three-story addition.

April 10, 1992|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,Staff Writer HVB

Operators of the Baltimore Ronald McDonald House, a home away from home for families of sick children receiving medical care in local hospitals, are seeking funds to expand it.

Tom Sullivan, president of the local, non-profit organization that owns and operates the house at 635 W. Lexington St., said the group needs to raise about $700,000 to help pay for construction of a three-story, $1.2 million addition that would be complete by April 1993. The rest of the construction funds will come from an endowment built up over the past decade.

Mr. Sullivan said the expansion is needed so that the 10-year-old residence, which helps 400 families a year, can provide affordable shelter for more parents and siblings of children who have come to Maryland health care institutions for treatment.

The Ronald McDonald House is one of four such facilities now operating or under construction in Baltimore. The others are the Hope Lodge on Lexington Street and two near the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

"We have a homelike environment that accommodates not only domiciliary needs but family needs," Mr. Sullivan said. "It's not an insignificant project for a volunteer organization, but we're ready to bite the bullet and move ahead."

Gilbert Thomas, a partner of the Baltimore design firm of Marks, Thomas and Associates, last week presented to the city's Architectural Review Board plans for an addition containing 12 guest rooms, a media room and additional facilities. The Ronald McDonald house currently has 26 beds.

Rooms are $10 a day for those who can afford that much, and thebeds are full most of the time, Mr. Thomas said. "The need has far exceeded what the house can accommodate."

Among the most-needed facilities is a "respite-care" suite for "day stays" by family members who want to do laundry or take a break from the stress of being at the hospital but don't need to stay overnight.

"We talked about building another house in the suburbs, but we thought this was the best location for it," Mr. Sullivan said. Having made that decision, he said, the group hopes to retain the character of the building even though it will be larger.

"We didn't want to lose the family feeling it has," he said. "Otherwise it becomes a dormitory or a hotel."

Mr. Sullivan said the Baltimore home is one of the largest of 150 Ronald McDonald houses around the world. It is named for a marketing character associated with the principal corporate sponsor -- the McDonald's fast-food restaurant chain -- but is not affiliated with McDonald's or its owner-operators.

McDonald's does help pay part of the facility's annual operating expenses but the chain's contribution does not cover capital improvements, Mr. Sullivan said. The expansion drive is the work of the local group that owns and operates the house -- Hematology Oncology Support Services Inc.

The University of Maryland leases both the land beneath the house and the site of the proposed addition for $1 a year to the non-profit group. Contributions can be sent to the Ronald McDonald House, 635 W. Lexington St., Baltimore 21201.

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