Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region will expand its familiar yellow home-away-from-home facility with a $2 million renovation project designed to meet the growing needs of the community.
The charity’s facility at 141 S. Lake Ave. in Albany is usually at or near capacity and experienced a 50 percent increase in demand last year over the year before. It purchased property adjacent to the 16-bedroom facility in July with plans to renovate and connect the home to its current space.
Now in its 30th year of serving families throughout the Capital Region, Ronald McDonald House Charities is confident the additional space will meet the need of the community through at least 2021.
“The influx of patients at our area hospitals has created a greater need for our services than ever before,” Executive Director Jeff Yule said in a news release issued Thursday. “The expansion of our current facility will allow us to continue to provide a host of critical support services to families during perhaps the most difficult time of their lives.”
Albany Medical Center is experiencing a significant increase in its in-patient caseload, he said, and the increasing demands for overnight accommodations prompted the charity to act.
Its home-away-from-home facility is for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at Albany Medical Center. It helps about 550 families a year.
The expansion will add nine more bedrooms and more than 4,500 square feet of living space that increases handicap accessibility, expands its dining facilities and creates more office and community space.
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings announced his support for the project at a news conference Thursday.
The parents of the child who inspired the first-ever Ronald McDonald House in 1974 were also at the announcement Thursday. Fred and Fran Hill often camped out on hospital chairs and benches while their daughter Kimm, then 3, was being treated for leukemia.
About a decade after the first home went up, the Albany house became the 35th Ronald McDonald house to open. Today, there are more than 250 house programs in 26 countries.
But in 1988, the six-bedroom South Lake Avenue facility was no longer meeting the overwhelming need of the hospital community. So the board voted to renovate the house next door, undergoing a labor-intensive effort to connect the two into one facility.
“As we celebrate 30 years of serving families in the Capital Region, we could not think of a better time to build upon our success through this vital expansion project,” said Yule in the release.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region will host its 30th anniversary Homecoming Gala on Saturday at the Times Union Center. The event will feature aerialists, food and live music.