Expansion of Ronald McDonald House underway

Rendering of Ronald McDonald House expansion
Rendering of Ronald McDonald House expansion

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville announced Thursday that it is expanding its cornerstone program, the Ronald McDonald House in San Marco, to better serve the growing number of pediatric patients coming to Jacksonville from around the country and world to access medical care.

Exceeding capacity on a near nightly basis, the demands on the house will only increase as Jacksonville continues to grow as a medical destination and as the demands increase on the house's medical partners, Wolfson Children's Hospital, Nemours Children's Clinic, UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, Brooks Rehabilitation and UF Health.

Crews broke ground Thursday to begin the expansion on the Ronald McDonald House of Jacksonville. Ronald himself was there to get things going.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Jacksonville is a nonprofit whose mission is to support the health and well-being of children by providing lodging and other services for critically ill, chronically ill and seriously injured children and their families.

Families said they think the charity is extremely helpful.

"The house has given our whole family the strength to make it through all the ups and downs of the past year. I don't know what we would have done without the support we found at the Ronald McDonald House," said the parent of a young child undergoing cancer treatment.

Being part of the Jacksonville community since 1988, RMHC operates the Ronald McDonald House, the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Wolfson Children's Hospital and the Grants Program.

As the cornerstone program, Ronald McDonald House provides more than 10,000 nights of lodging a year to out-of-town families whose children are receiving medical treatment in the Jacksonville area. The Ronald McDonald house gives families in need a place to stay while their kids receive medical care at nearby hospitals.

"The Ronald McDonald House is more than a home away from home, it is truly a place of respite and community where families can be together and heal together," said Curt Cunkle, chairman of RMHC.

To meet the growing need, the Ronald McDonald House is expanding by 80 percent, from 30 to 54 rooms and from 42,000 square feet to 65,000 square feet. The expansion will incorporate a number of new features designed to provide a more healing environment for families: 

  • A rooftop healing garden featuring seating areas
  • A fountain
  • A two-shade structure as a place of enjoyment and respite for families
  • A new volunteer kitchen, allowing for the existing kitchen to be remodeled exclusively for family use
  • An iconic stair tower
  • Guest balconies
  • Covered parking
  • Refurbishment of existing spaces, including the dining room, playroom, teen activity room, ?laundry areas, food storage areas and administrative area

"I believe the Jacksonville community will be proud of the expansion of our great city's House That Love Built as we collectively work to support the growing number of families needing our services. Our heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported our families, the house and our mission in so many different ways," said Diane Boyle, the executive director of RMHC of Jacksonville. 

So far the Ronald McDonald House has collected more than $10 million for the project. But the total cost is $13 million, so they're asking for help from the Jacksonville community to reach the fundraising goal for the project.

Click here to learn more about RMHC of Jacksonville, or call 904-807-HOME.