After three years of planning and construction, Peoria’s Ronald McDonald House has officially opened its doors.
The four-story building in the Medical District has 22 suites available for the families of children receiving care at any area hospital.
Leaders of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois say this project means families will no longer have to question where they’re going to stay, where their next meal is going to come from or how they’re going to afford it.
Julie Locke is a RMHCCI board member and founder of the DAX Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping families and children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her son Dax passed away in 2009 from leukemia.
“What I think about the most is the impact — the impact this has had on my grieving heart personally, the impact this is going to have on our community, who are going to be the hands and feet serving these families who come in with heavy burdens,” she said.
Volunteers will cook for families staying at the Peoria House, help clean and entertain guests with art projects and tutoring.
In addition to the private rooms, the Peoria House features several community spaces — like art studios, game rooms and playhouses — meant to give families a place to build friendships and offer comfort to one another.
Don Forrest, vice chair of the RMHCCI board, said the facility was designed with both privacy and fellowship in mind.
“There are going to be times when you don’t want to be around other people — you want quiet and solitude, to be contemplative and to be with your family,” he said. “Then there’s also opportunities to have a lot of fun.”
Families will start moving in later this week. The average length of stay in a Ronald McDonald House is about ten days, although some families end up staying for months.
They're able to stay for free, thanks to donors.
In order to qualify, guests must live at least 30 miles outside of Peoria. Any family member over the age of 18 must also go through a background check.
For more information, visit the Ronald McDonald House Charities website.