Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii (RMHC-Hawaii) is marking three decades of assisting families with seriously ill children from the neighbor islands and throughout the Pacific Rim who must travel to Oahu for treatments.
A year’s worth of festivities, events and outreach efforts are scheduled to create awareness of the services available, and to give thanks to all who have supported the charity since its inception.
“We’re not a hospital. We’re not a hotel. We’re a home,” said Jerri Chong, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii president. “It’s a place where the families can be together to assist a child who’s really going through a difficult time. But really, what it’s all about, and the most important thing, are really the intangibles, and it is the caring and support and the compassion and humanity that just echoes throughout the house.”
The Saligumbas say that support is invaluable. Sixteen years ago, their son, Kevin, was born prematurely and weighed just 18 ounces. They stayed at Ronald McDonald House for over two years.
“I don’t know how we could have survived being here 26 months,” said Kevin’s father, Frankie Saligumba. “As you can see, he’s taller than me now. He’s learning to drive, trying to drive, and he’s actually in JROTC and he loves it.”
A special celebration took place at Kahala Mall on the organization’s actual anniversary — Monday, March 27 — with entertainment and activities for the keiki, and an appearance from Ronald McDonald himself.
RMHC-Hawaii opened its first house on Judd Hillside Road in Manoa Valley on March 27, 1987 and added a second Ronald McDonald House on Oahu Avenue in 2006. The two houses operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and together have provided a “home-away-from-home” for more than 11,500 families.
The Ronald McDonald House Family Room at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children opened in 2003 and provides respite and assistance for more than 9,000 people annually.
“Over the years, there have been countless moments that have touched us deeply, reminding us of the important work we do,” said Chong. “The Ronald McDonald House provides a supportive environment for families caring for children who are undergoing treatments for illnesses. We are so appreciative of our donors, volunteers and staff that make it possible to care for these families. To them we say mahalo. We have had the opportunity to serve families from all over the state and Pacific Rim and look forward to the next 30 years of providing assistance.”
McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii has been a longtime supporter of RMHC-Hawaii and its mission. Nationally, the partnership between McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald House Charities and its programs dates back to the inception of the charitable organization in Philadelphia where the first house opened in 1974.
“I remember the opening of the first House like it was yesterday,” said Miles Ichinose, McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii owner/operator. “At McDonald’s, we understand the emotional stress and financial burdens that families go through caring for seriously ill children so we wanted to make a difference. Myself and the other McDonald’s of Hawaii owner/operators decided to personally co-sign for the loan to build the Judd Hillside House and it was the best decision we ever made.”
The organization will be celebrating with events scheduled at major shopping malls throughout the remainder of 2017 on Oahu, Hawaii Island, Kauai and Maui. Details can be found below and online here.
- Kona Commons Shopping Center – March 25, 9 a.m. to noon
- Kahala Mall – March 27, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Kapolei Commons – April 8, 9 a.m. to noon
- Prince Kuhio Plaza – May 27, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Queen Kaahumanu Center – June 24, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Kukui Grove Center – August 26, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Windward Mall – September 16, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Pearlridge Center Uptown II – September 23, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.