Ronald McDonald House Northland
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
The staff of the Ronald McDonald House Northland in Duluth is ready to welcome the first families in need into its care. The space officially opened Wednesday with the capacity to host up to five families at a time.
“We’re ready to go and we’re eager to serve as soon as there’s that need,” said program manager Tara Gallagher.
The Ronald McDonald House is on the fourth floor of 503 E. Third St., next to the Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center. Families who stay there are given access to a private bedroom and bathroom, free laundry facilities, a full kitchen and lounge area, plus nine meals per week and a pantry stocked with assortments of foods.
The space is part of the Ronald McDonald House Charities-Upper Midwest chapter, which also includes the Ronald McDonald Houses in the Twin Cities. It will serve children and their families from all over northern Minnesota, plus Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The facility will also be available for children visiting the Northland who need emergency medical attention.
Amy Ament, chief operating officer of the Upper Midwest chapter, said the space can be used to serve families for something as simple as a place to stop in for a cup of coffee, or it can serve as their home away from home for weeks, months or even years, because every child’s circumstances are different. Services are completely free to the families.
“Nobody expects to go through any of this, and to be able to provide people with free lodging and food and other services at a time when their world is upside down is the least that we can do,” said Jill Evenocheck, president and chief executive officer of the Upper Midwest chapter.
Any child receiving medical care in the Twin Ports can be eligible to stay at the Ronald McDonald House. Gallagher said interested families should talk to their social workers about the steps to take, even if they don’t think they would be eligible for care.
“They’re an encyclopedia of tools and resources, and we’re just one of the many tools and resources that they can use to help support the families,” she said.
Social workers will also manage the wait list for the five rooms, which will be prioritized by the severity of the child’s medical needs.