1979 - 1990
Four Rochester, Minn. area families united together around a common vision: to provide a home away from home for families with seriously ill children. Today, Ronald McDonald House Charities Midwest | MN, WI, IA carries out their dream, serving an ever-increasing number of families in need of comfort, care and hope.
These families reached out to doctors, nurses, social workers, business leaders and community members with a goal of securing a home for families with ill children, a home where children, siblings and parents could support one another as they shared similar medical scenarios – as well as a home where they could share the responsibility and costs, of day-to-day living.
In 1980, they realized their goal with the formation of Northland Children’s Services, a nonprofit organization established to operate a 12-bedroom home for families with seriously ill children.
The House, located at 613 2nd St. SW, operated for 10 years as Northland House. Then, due to the efforts of a strong core of volunteers as well as the support of then McDonald’s owner/operator Phil Henoch, the Northland House was invited to become a licensed Ronald McDonald House in 1990.
The affiliation with Ronald McDonald House Charities gave children and their families a common face to look for, a smiling clown after whom the home is named. It also provided higher visibility and recognition in our own community, and enhanced our ability to raise much-needed funds to support daily operations.
The Ronald McDonald House of Rochester, Minnesota operated for another five years at its original site on 2nd St SW. In the meantime, an active board was pursing expansion opportunities and set its site on a new, accessible home, that would serve even more children and families each year.
New Facility & Expansion:
In 1995, we moved to our present location at 850 2nd St. SW. The Ronald McDonald House of Rochester became a 24-room House, complete with living areas, kitchen, laundry, playrooms and a game room for children to enjoy. In the new facility, each room was accommodated with a private bathroom (a great improvement from the previous House). The Board of Trustees, volunteers and community rallied to build and support this facility raising $2.2 million for construction costs.
An organized volunteer program of HouseWarmers was developed to help support day-to-day activity at the House. HouseWarmers greet visitors to the House, they answer calls, assist with light housekeeping and help check new families into the House. More than 300 volunteers serve as HouseWarmers throughout the course of the year in various capacities.
The next several years saw increasing need for our mission and, in 2004, we opened 18 additional rooms, expanding this home to 42 total guest rooms. Six of the rooms are specially designed as long-term guest rooms, providing expanded space for those families who must stay months for prolonged medical care.
The need to serve more families is great and growing in Rochester. Proton beam therapy, regenerative medicine, individualized medicine and science of health care delivery continue to drive the need for our services. The current House simply does not have the capacity to serve present or future needs of Mayo Clinic patient families. In 2017, 1,079 families were unable to stay with us because when they called, we had no rooms available.
To address this need, the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester opened an expansion of the current facility along 2nd St. SW. The House celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2019. The expansion increases the number of guest rooms from 42 to 70 and adds much-needed community spaces, including indoor and outdoor play areas for children.
In 2022, the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester expanded its services and service area by merging with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Wisconsin and Southeastern Minnesota, forming Ronald McDonald House Charities Midwest | MN, WI, IA.
The newly formed RMHC Midwest | MN, WI, IA and its programs (Ronald McDonald House, grants) will operate out of its existing physical location in Rochester.