Ronald McDonald House turns 25

Anita Ogburn
Anita Ogburn

Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — As it marks its 25th anniversary today, Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem also is starting construction on an addition that will add 18 bedrooms, more than doubling the number of families the charity can accommodate.

Funded through a campaign that raised $4 million, the expansion will allow Ronald McDonald House to serve as many as 1,400 families a year, twice the total it has been serving.

The nonprofit also expects its annual budget will grow to $900,000 from $700,000 because of the expansion, while its staff will grow by two full-time employees and one
half-time employee to eight people working full-time and nine working part-time, says Anita Ogburn, executive director.

In 1984, with $600,000 it raised, including startup funds of $20,000 from the national Ronald McDonald House Charities, the local Ronald McDonald House began offering services in a 10-bedroom house that had been built in 1920 in the historic Ardmore neighborhood.

In 1997, after purchasing an adjacent lot and tearing down the house that was there, the nonprofit added a seven-bedroom addition that was designed in the same
architectural style as the original house and funded with $1.2 million.

The addition that soon will be added, built on two adjacent lots, has been designed to look like the first two structures, so the entire residential facility, while connected,
appears to passers-by to consist of four separate Ardmore-style houses.

“It looks like four houses in a row,” Ogburn says. “It’s a wonderful way to blend into the neighborhood.”

Located between Forsyth Medical Center and Brenner Children’s Hospital, both located on Hawthorne Road, Ronald McDonald House provides a “home away from home” for parents with children at either of the two hospitals.

“Our mission is to keep families together near their sick child or newborn,” Ogburn says.

Families staying at Ronald McDonald House are asked to donate $5 each night they stay there.

Operating costs are covered mainly through donations from individuals, religious congregations, civic groups and corporate sponsors, and with revenue generated by several fundraising events.

And Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Carolina, a charity organized by owner-operators of local McDonald’s restaurants in the state, provides an annual stipend of $40,000.

The national Ronald McDonald House Charities does not provide ongoing operating support.

“Ronald McDonald Houses are community-based,” Ogburn says. “We raise all our money and make all our decisions locally.”
The charity, one of 170 Ronald McDonald houses in the U.S., also operates Ronald McDonald House Family Rooms at both hospitals, serving 22,000 people a
year with the help of 170 volunteers.

Chaired by Jean Waugh and Phil Waugh, owner of investment firm Second Half, and with Betty and John Allison, chair of BB&T, serving as honorary co-chairs, the capital
campaign received a $200,000 gift from the BB&T Foundation.

Construction on the addition was set to begin Sept. 1, with Calloway Johnson Moore & West serving as architects and Blum Construction serving as general contractor.

Ronald McDonald House on Sept. 13 was scheduled to host an open house for neighbors of its new addition.

This year, for the 23rd year, the charity will sponsor a luminary project, offering 14,000 luminary kits for $5 each, as well as a “Sport a Shirt, Share a Night” fundraiser, offering 6,000 shirts for $10 each.

Ogburn says the recession has prompted Ronald McDonald House to be more conservative in its spending.

“It’s going to be very difficult to raise the amount of money we need this year,” she says. “But we are optimistic that the folks who have supported us will continue to do so.”

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