More than a house
BY MIKE WARREN
MARSHFIELD — Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Marshfield is fresh off a series of open houses entitled, “More Than A House” to mark its 40th anniversary.
The open house events provided a unique opportunity for the public to engage with RMHC and learn about the extraordinary impact the charity has had on families with hospitalized children over the past four decades. All events and activities took place at the Ronald McDonald House, located at 803 W. North St., Marshfield.
As a testament to the support and love that RMHC of Marshfield has provided to families facing medical challenges, three separate open houses were held, each targeting a specific audience.
The first open house, the “Family Reunion,” took place on Sunday, July 23. That event was exclusively dedicated to past RMH Alumni Families who have stayed at the House within the past 40 years.
“And it was just a really nice laid-back event,” said Executive Director Iilee Pederson. “Lots of fun families that were involved. It is so, so fun to see families that joined us from past years, some families that we hadn’t even met before that had stayed 30, 40 years ago, and then other families that just joined us. They had been discharged just a few weeks ago, and we were able to see babies already growing,” Pederson added.
On Monday, July 24, an open house was held for valued donors, volunteers (past and present) and community members. This event was used to express gratitude to the individuals and organizations that have supported RMHC of Marshfield over the years.
The third open house, held on Tuesday, July 25, specifically welcomed medical partners from Marshfield Children’s, Marshfield Clinic Health System and other local healthcare facilities.
At all open houses, guests had the opportunity to take guided tours of the Ronald McDonald House, discover the vital services provided to families, and gain insights into the organization’s current needs and vision for the future.
A First for Wisconsin
When Marshfield’s Ronald McDonald House opened its doors Dec. 8, 1983, it became the first facility of its kind in Wisconsin.
“And so that’s something that we really celebrate because, for our community members to think and have the forethought that families with hospitalized children are going to need something like this 40 years ago is really an accomplishment, so we’re really excited to celebrate that,” Pederson told Hub City Times.
Pederson also said the celebration will carry into this fall and winter.
“We’ll have a recipe book that is coming out (around the Holidays) to celebrate recipes that have been really important to our Ronald McDonald House over the past four decades, and then also recipes that are just special to Marshfield, special to Wisconsin and then other recipes that are just good food,” Pederson said.
She also said their Sweet Affaire gala and auction – held once every five years – is scheduled for Oct. 12 at Rock Ridge Orchard, Edgar.
“Those critical funds for us really allow us to continue our mission of keeping families close to their hospitalized child,” Pederson said. “So, whether that’s through donations of people just stopping in donating pop tabs, donating monetary donations or in-kind items to support our house, or attending an event. We also have an upcoming golf event, which is called “A Round for the House,” and that’s held at Riveredge in Marshfield, and that’ll be coming up August 18.”
While many efforts are going into celebrating 40 years this year, Pederson says RMH has not lost its focus on its sole purpose of supporting families with sick children.
“We are a partner to the hospital, so we really consider ourselves a part of a patient’s care team, and so we really focus on family-centered care, and how can we support the entire family throughout a child’s hospitalization,” said Pederson.
Ronald McDonald House in Marshfield houses over 400 families every year. Some stay just a day or two, while others stay for a year or longer. The longest stay in Marshfield so far is 426 days.
“That baby was born at just one pound, one ounce and graduated from NICU to PICU to PEDS and then was eventually discharged after his first birthday,” Pederson recalled.
She said it’s why RMH focuses on the entire family.
“And so whether that’s making sure that siblings are celebrated if they have birthdays that are happening, whether it’s making sure mom and dad have everything that they need,” Pederson added. “One thing that we really focus on, too, is making sure that meals are provided for our families, so most weeknights we have a donated meal that is brought in, so that food is the last thing that people have to think about.”
Pederson says the cost to house one family per night, on average, is $80. That cost, however, is free to those families who need RMH services.
The future looks bright…and bigger
As Marshfield’s Ronald McDonald House looks toward the next 40 years, expansion might be on the horizon. Pederson says the current facility is maxed out at 10 rooms, and the need is growing every day.
“We recently purchased the lot behind Ronald McDonald House and we’re looking to potentially enter into some discussions about how can we expand our house and expand our services to better accommodate our families, so that might be one exciting thing that you’ll have to stay tuned for.”
Meanwhile, RMH is honoring their longtime neighbor to the west, Mabel Schreindl, with a new plush stuffed cow named in her honor.
“Mabel is our new promotion, our new campaign,” Pederson said. “So, she is our mascot for Ronald McDonald House of Marshfield, and she is the cutest little stuffed animal that we have in partnership with Nasonville Dairy. So, Nasonville completely underwrote the cost of those stuffed animals to make, and then we’re able to sell them for $15 apiece,” Pederson said.
For 70 years, Mabel watched from her spot on the hill as the hospital facilities flexed and changed both inside and out.
Mabel V. Schreindl was 103 when she died January 6, 2022 at Marshfield Health Services.