TAKING SHAPE- Construction on the Ronald McDonald House moves forward as fundraising efforts continue. The facility is expected to be completed this fall.

Ronald McDonald House closes in on campaign goal

Fundraising efforts also to continue for ongoing operating costs

Officials with the Ronald McDonald House are closing in on the fundraising for their capital campaign.

So far about $11.7 million of the $12 million campaign has been raised.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Larry Mathieson, executive director of Ronald McDonald House for southern Alberta. “The community has been so supportive. We really couldn’t have asked for more community support.”

The 11-suite facility, located at 3908 50 Ave. in Red Deer will be built to hospital standards to ensure the wellness of children who are recuperating from illness as well as the family members staying with them.

“When you build a house like this we have some unique challenges and one of those challenges is because of the kids that we will serve. We have to build a facility that takes into account things like the air handling system and filtration,” said Mathieson. “When you’re designing a building like this some of the costs are very similar to those of a hospital.”

He added another challenge cost-wise for the Ronald McDonald House is trying to make the facility seem like a home and not an institution.

“Anybody that stays in this house we want it to feel as much like home as possible,” said Mathieson. “You have the additional costs with trying to design a building that takes into consideration those more industrial type needs but also a place that takes on the look and feel of someone’s home.”

Operating costs for the Ronald McDonald House will cost about $1.1 million annually.

“This will not only be for the maintenance of the house, but we have programs that run for the families,” said Mathieson. “These will include education programs and we’ve seen the value of these programs in other houses, so we are planning to have them from the get-go.”

He added once the capital campaign wraps up, officials with the Ronald McDonald House will gear their efforts towards raising funds for operating costs – something that will be ongoing as long as the facility is utilized.

Mathieson anticipates the home will serve upwards of 400 families each year.

Families are charged $12 per night to stay there.

“The cost to provide the services are quite a bit more – in Red Deer it’ll probably be $100 a night and that difference we make up by fundraising,” said Mathieson. “However, we don’t ever turn a family away if they can’t afford to pay the $12. If families are eligible for support from the province than we help them get that and if they are not eligible and they just can’t pay it then we eat that cost.”

In addition, he added this winter has been a challenge in terms of construction on the facility.

“It hasn’t been the greatest winter for building as we’ve had lots of dumps of snow and then cold, cold temperatures,” said Mathieson. “But our construction team has done a good job in terms of keeping us on schedule.”

He added the public will begin to see more progress made on the building shortly.

“Framing will begin in the near future,” said Mathieson. “And we recently poured the first floor slab a couple of weeks ago and right away we’ll be pouring the second floor and then things will really start to move and the public will get to see the true shape that the facility will be.”

The Ronald McDonald House is expected to open this fall.

“Before we open for families we are looking at opening for at least a month to the public for tours,” said Mathieson. “It’s been a great community initiative and there has been so much support that we don’t feel like we can open for business without allowing the community to see what they’ve built.”

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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