In 1973, Fred Hill, a Philadelphia Eagles NFL player, had a child stricken with cancer. He met many others with ill children who had traveled far for similar pediatric medical treatment. These families had nowhere close to the hospital to stay and could not afford hotels. Fred decided to do something about this, and in partnership the Eagles, the Children’s Hospital and McDonald’s, he created the nation’s first Ronald McDonald House.
On October 30, 1982, a dream came true for New Mexico when our own Ronald McDonald House opened. Since then, over 35,000 families have stayed in this comfortable and supportive home environment.
Our Ronald McDonald House was still a vision conceived in 1979 by a collaboration of three Albuquerque hospitals, medical groups, private citizens, and the Junior League of Albuquerque. Seed funding ($25,000) from McDonald’s Ray Kroc Fund was just the beginning. The group incorporated and established a volunteer board. The Junior League pledged time and money to build the House. Following extensive real estate searches, a 50-year lease was awarded by the UNM Board of Regents for the present site on North Campus. The state rallied, progress snowballed, architectural plans were completed, and building materials and furniture were donated. The Ronald House opened in 1982 with eight guest rooms. Eighteen months following the opening the House was already too small and plans began to expand to meet the community need for family services. By December 1985, 10 bedrooms, 10 baths, a large living room, 2 solariums, more laundry space, and another kitchen were added.
Over the years the House changed and so did our organization. In March 1996, we began serving the community as Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico (RMHC-NM) with a mission to provide temporary housing to families with ill children. In 2007 we opened the Ronald McDonald Family Room at UNM Children’s Hospital, where we provide respite services outside the walls of the Ronald McDonald House. This Program serves local families who need to be near their ill children. It now serves over 600 guests monthly.
In 2008 we completed the latest House Expansion by doubling the capacity of family guestrooms to 30. The House now has the capacity to provide over 10,000 family lodging nights annually.
The House has been a temporary home for thousands of families while employing a full-time staff of less than 10. The warm and compassionate environment would not be possible without the dedication of volunteers who are crucial to our programs. Students, retirees, civic and social organizations, as well as corporate teams have cooked, cleaned, computerized, raked, weeded, laundered, listened and cared for our families and our mission. It is because of these volunteers and our organizational history, that Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico is truly the House that Love Built.