by Natalie Brooke Long
With Fondren home to many hospitals and medical facilities, it is no surprise that the University of Mississippi Medical Center is home to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. The global organization provides temporary housing for families with children that are being treated by local medical facilities. The majority of the children staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Jackson are treated at UMMC, though children from other hospitals in the Jackson metro area also temporarily reside there. The Ronald McDonald House has many locations in the United States, with over three hundred chapters worldwide, and the facility located in Fondren is the only one in the state of Mississippi.
Jackson’s chapter of the RMHC, started in May 1989, will celebrate their twenty-fifth year in 2014. Its executive director, Ruth Ann Allen, has been in the leading position for twenty four years.
Chris Kennedy, house manager for the last two and a half years at RMHC, manages the day-to-day operations and communicates with social workers who place families in rooms. Staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, RMH offers sixteen rooms for families.
RMHC of Mississippi offers the Ronald McDonald House and Grant Giving program. The Grant Giving is determined by the RMHC Board, and it gives grants to various children’s charities and organizations in the state.
The Ronald McDonald House does have a waiting list, with children who are intensive care as first priority. None of the families are charged a fee to stay there. However, donations are greatly appreciated, although not mandatory.
As a non-profit charity, volunteers are a necessity in the life of RMHC. Many of the staff members work on a volunteer basis. Kennedy says that for each day, different volunteers in Fondren and other Jackson neighborhoods bring in one meal a day for the RMHC families to ensure they have a quality meal. Various restaurants, churches, and social organizations donate a hot meal daily to RMHC, which makes the families’ stays there more comfortable.
If you are interested in volunteering for RMHC, visit their website at rmhcmississippi.org. There, you will find a wish list with different items the house needs for its visitors, such as toiletries, snacks, and eating utensils. Monetary donations can be sent to RMHC, 2524 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216.
The Ronald McDonald House is also looking for volunteers to work at the house. If you are interested in becoming a RMHC volunteer, call Kennedy at 601-366-4417. For more information on RMHC or get updates on upcoming events, visit their Facebook page.