By Chris Haiseimg_3922

Think about your last trip to the golden arches of McDonald’s. Drive-thru or dine-in, there is a place to leave change in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities® Eastern Wisconsin. While many of us often leave our unwanted coinage in the charity boxes at the registers out of reflex, the story behind the loose change is one of charity, family, and community.

Wauwatosa is home to the Eastern Wisconsin branch of this world renowned charitable organization, one of 356 locations in 63 countries. Each House is owned and operated by a local RMHC Chapter, governed by a Board of Directors who are responsible for program development, standards and operations.

“We are fortunate to live so close to the outstanding medical care in Wauwatosa. Yet many families travel far to seek out that care for their children and we are fortunate to have the Ronald McDonald House right here too,” said Mayor Kathy Ehley. “For more than 30 years, Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin have served critically ill or injured children and I’m proud that the City of Wauwatosa can be part of extending their community to help families and children heal.”

The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is a simple one. For children facing a serious medical crisis, nothing seems scarier than not having mom and dad close by for love and support. Many families travel far from home and spend several weeks or months to get treatment for their seriously ill or injured children. A Ronald McDonald House is that “home-away-from-home” for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost.

Ronald McDonald Houses are built on the idea that nothing else should matter when a family is focused on the health of their child – not what they can afford, where they will get their next meal or where they will lay their head at night to rest.

The Ronald McDonald House believes that families are stronger when they are together, and that being together also helps in the healing process. By staying at a Ronald McDonald House, parents also can better communicate with their child’s medical team and keep up with sometimes complicated and lengthy treatment plans.

Some are not aware that, in addition to the families, the child who is ill is often in the House itself. “Whether the patient is receiving in-patient treatment, or staying at the House for out-patient treatment we keep families together during their difficult journey.” Said Ann Petrie, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern WI.
The Ronald McDonald House allows families from across the state and across the world to access specialized medical treatment by providing a place to stay at little or sometimes no cost. The services the charity provides allows families to focus on health and healing, rather than everyday chores and expenses that may steal focus from the health of their loved one.


Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern WI is located here in Tosa. The House was founded in 1984 as the result of several years of hard work by a group of volunteers committed to providing a place to stay for families with seriously ill children being treated at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Living in a community, side by side, families form friendships and support one another through difficult times.

Since inception, the House has provided more than 38,000 family stays to families from 569 Wisconsin communities, all 50 states, and many countries around the world whose children are receiving medical care at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin or other area hospitals.

After several expansions throughout the years designed to accommodate more guests, The House boasts 70 private guest rooms that include 13 suite-style rooms for guests staying long-term.

magic-roomBeyond simply providing a residence, Ronald McDonald House Charities Eastern WI offers families therapeutic programming, a comprehensive meal program, comfortable community spaces and more. A team of over 550 dedicated volunteers and a small, committed staff are always ready to do whatever it takes to make a family’s stay a little easier.

Living in a community, side by side, families form friendships and support one another through difficult times.

It costs approximately $90 per room per night to operate the House. Many families try to contribute what they can—even if it’s the suggested $20 per night donation. While the support of the families is important to the mission, only 4% of their operating budget comes from these donations and less than 50% of the families make any donation to support their room stay.


Ronald McDonald House Charities ® Eastern WI operates independently as a 501(c ) (3) charity and finds much of its support from the generosity of local individuals and organizations.

“Like many non-profit organizations, we rely on individual, community and corporate support to provide our annual operating funds,” said Ann Petrie.

The donation boxes found at your local McDonald’s are supported by the local McDonald’s owner/operators, 4 currently serve on the board. These boxes that collect your spare change still provide 13% of the organizations annual funding, a significant contribution considering the House is reliant on local support. The McDonald’s Corporation is their mission partner and does much for the organization, but does not provide support on a financial level.

The Ronald McDonald House in Tosa also achieves its fund raising goals through a few key events throughout the year that promote awareness and help to keep their doors open to families.

On July 25th the House hosted their annual Golf Classic, cleverly named Golfing Fore our Families, at Ironwood Golf Course. With the support of numerous businesses and sponsors, the day of golf provides invaluable support to the House.

In September the House will put on its 32nd Annual Gala, an elegant evening filled with auctions, raffles, great food and music, all in support of the Ronald McDonald House’s noble mission.

During the holiday season the Ronald McDonald House benefits from the Christmas Fantasy House, an event in which a local home is bedecked and bedazzled in holiday spirit by a team of designers and opened to the public. The proceeds from this charitable event help the Ronald McDonald House to keep its doors open.

One of the nicest things about volunteering with a charity like the Ronald McDonald House is that you can see the rewards of your volunteer work every minute through the smiles and thank-you’s from the guests of whom you work alongside.

More information on all of these events can be found at RMHCMilwaukee.org1-volunteers-best_54b2639

The House also finds tremendous support from local businesses that provide food and goods in support of the House. For example, local bakeries like Rocket Baby and Cranky Al’s provide donuts and pastries for breakfast for the families at the House.

The Tosa Farmer’s Market provides donation bins for vendors and guests to donate produce after each Saturday’s market. This also aids in producing healthy meals for the families, a main priority for the House and those who stay there.

Along with the incredible fund raising campaign put forth every year and the support of local businesses, the liveliness of the House also depends upon the tireless efforts of over 550 volunteers, many of which reside in Wauwatosa.

There are many ways to contribute to the Ronald McDonald House’s mission. You can be a House Volunteer, where you welcome guests, assist with checkouts, help with light housekeeping and organization around the House.

Volunteer Van drivers make trips to and from local hospitals, run errands and assist with other house duties. Kitchen Keepers perform a variety of duties to ensure that the House kitchens are cleaned properly well organized and stocked. Office Assistants have duties such as answering phones, greeting guests, and helping with office work.

Ann Petrie says that a “very impactful contribution” is meal preparation. Volunteers preparethe meals for these families and serve the families, removing families’ worries about logistically and financially feeding themselves during their stay.

One of the nicest things about volunteering with a charity like the Ronald McDonald House is that you can see the rewards of your volunteer work every minute through the smiles and thank-you’s from the guests of whom you work alongside.

All of the local support and volunteering has allowed the House to flourish. They are currently celebrating their second year since a major renovation which gave them the space they have today.

Since their expansion, the House has not had to turn any families away, an accomplishment that is truly special. There are no plans to further expand in the immediate future. However, as Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin continues to expand and serve more people in need, we may see a larger role from the Ronald McDonald House of Eastern Wisconsin.