“I look forward to never turning away another family,” said Jeff Yule.
Yule, the executive director of Albany’s Ronald McDonald House, spoke at the the announcement of an expansion to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region on Thursday, Sept. 13. The organization is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the facility at 139 South Lake Ave., which provides a place for families to stay while their seriously ill children are treated at nearby hospitals. Over the past 30 years, the Albany location has served over 17,000 families.
Due to an increase in patients at Albany Medical Center, the hospital is expanding its pediatric and neonatal intensive care facilities, Yule said. This increase directly affects the Ronald McDonald House, which can only house 16 families. The charity recently acquired the property next door at 141 South Lake, which will add a third home to the facility and nine extra bedrooms. Plans are underway to expand the house by combining the homes. A kitchen will connect the two homes.
The renovations and expansion will cost an estimated $2 million, which Yule said he hopes will come from donations.
Fran and Fred Hill, whose daughter inspired the very first Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia in 1974, joined Yule at the ceremony. The Hills’ daughter, Kim, was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 3 years old.
“We were told she’d probably only live six weeks, six months at the most,” Fran Hill said.
Kim Hill continued to battle brain tumors caused by chemotherapy from her treatments for the rest of her life. She died last year at the age of 44.
During Kim Hill’s treatment, Fran Hill said many families in the hospital were sleeping in waiting room chairs and living off vending machine food so as to be near their children. Fran and Fred Hill, who played football with the Philadelphia Eagles, started raising money with other members of the Eagles, partnering with McDonald’s to make the Ronald McDonald House come to life. There are now over 300 Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide.