'It's like a hotel': families voice their appreciation for Ronald McDonald House

GRATEFUL GUESTS: Ned, Kristy, Josh
and Jack from Canowindra  stayed at
Ronald McDonald House in February.
Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI
0428dchouse1
GRATEFUL GUESTS: Ned, Kristy, Josh and Jack from Canowindra stayed at Ronald McDonald House in February. Photo: DANIELLE CETINSKI 0428dchouse1

IT took years of hard work and funds raised, but Ronald McDonald House Orange has proven its worth, passing its 3000-night milestone.

The house celebrated its third birthday on Saturday, with 120 guests in attendance.

They included volunteers, staff and returning families, with children representing 30 of the guests.

Executive officer Rebecca Walsh said 371 families with sick children had visited the house a total of 554 times since it opened, amounting to 3071 nights of free accommodation.

“I continue to be amazed on a daily basis just how generous the community is to us,” she said. 

Since September, the average occupancy rate for the house has been 60 per cent. 

Among them was the Crosby family from Canowindra, who stayed in February while one-year-old Jack was in hospital for bad asthma. 

Mum Kristy Crosby said her son had been admitted several times for his illness. 

It’s proof of what can be achieved.

Catherine Nowlan

“The doctor wanted to be confident he was okay so we stayed a night here, and so far, so good for the past eight weeks,” she said. 

Mrs Crosby said the family had been apart for a week, but the night at Ronald McDonald House Orange meant they could be together, including husband Josh and three-year-old son Ned. 

She said Ned enjoyed the toys and the indoor-outdoor play area. 

“It’s like a hotel, maybe a resort even,” she said. 

Ms Walsh paid tribute to the 130 volunteers who prepared the eight rooms and helped settle families into the house, maintained the house and grounds and provided support in administration. 

“We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers,” she said. 

Georgie Windsor was one of the volunteers present during the celebrations. She devotes two nights a month to overnight stays, responding in the event the hospital sends a family across late at night. 

“Some of them have been under very hard conditions and they’re very upset with what’s happening to their child, sometimes they need a talk and a cup of tea,” she said. 

REAL LIFESAVER: Ronald McDonald House Orange is a place where families can find refuge. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

REAL LIFESAVER: Ronald McDonald House Orange is a place where families can find refuge. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

Mrs Windsor said she enjoyed the social aspect of volunteering.

Board chair Catherine Nowlan said looking at the building now, it would have been “pretty hard to believe” when the venture started. 

“Everybody worked together to make it happen and it’s proof of what can be achieved,” she said. 

Ms Walsh said she wanted to consolidate the house’s role during the next year by promoting it more widely, and donations would continue to play a vital role in covering operating costs and other needs, such as fresh linen and garden equipment.

“We want a beautiful, tranquil garden and we need gardening equipment to support the volunteers to do that,” she said. 

She also encouraged more volunteers to donate their time. 

For more information, call 6363 1960. 

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