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The Daily Tar Heel

Charity looks to expand service

McDonald house to add 24 rooms

As UNC Hospitals continues to grow, the Ronald McDonald House will need to follow suit in order to extend its services to even more than the 1,800 families it can already accommodate each year.

At this week’s UNC Board of Trustees meeting, the buildings and grounds committee discussed an expansion project for the house.

Though no formal action was taken, the board reviewed the expansion’s preliminary design.

The Ronald McDonald House has worked with UNC Hospitals since it was opened in 1988. Its mission is to provide a “home away from home” for families whose children are being treated at UNC Hospitals.

“We, as a university, have tried to help them in ways that we feel we can,” said Bob Winston, chairman of the board. “One way is by giving them University property, which will allow them to expand.”

Although a fair amount of the initial site planning has been completed, the house’s expansion must still get approval from the University, the town of Chapel Hill and the state of North Carolina.

UNC will be providing the house with a 100-year lease of the property behind its current building.

Nancy Maeder, the house’s director of operations, said she hopes the expansion will add 24 more rooms to the already existing 29.

“We were granted the lease on the land behind the property we’re on almost a year ago,” Maeder said. “We’re still in the early stages of planning. The hope is that construction will begin in late 2012 or early 2013.”

Staying at one of the hotel-style rooms at the house is free. It provides seven dinners and two breakfasts a week for families, as well as emotional support from other residents in similar situations.

“We, as a university, are very glad to have them here,” Winston said. “They provide services to the community that are very important.”

Maeder said that the house would not be possible without the help from University volunteers.

“We have groups that fix dinner, clean or do other projects for us,” she said. “The whole endeavor is really a work of the community.”

UNC student volunteers value the house being in Chapel Hill.

“I love the Ronald McDonald House,” said sophomore Elisa Marshall, who volunteered in fall 2009.

“I think it’s a great place to provide housing for people going through such tough situations.”

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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