Right at Home: Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis

Having a child in the hospital is a parent’s worst nightmare. Extended stays away from home only add to a situation that can feel unbearable. The Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis offers respite for families of seriously ill children. The nonprofit provides a home-away-from-home for families with children in the hospital—whether it’s providing spaces for them to find comfort in the hospital or offering accommodations free of charge to those that must travel to St. Louis for medical care.

Established in 1981, the first Ronald McDonald House in St. Louis opened with eight bedrooms for families traveling to St. Louis for care at one of our community’s world-renowned children’s hospitals. In four decades, the nonprofit has expanded to offer 59 bedrooms spread across two locations in the Central West End and one location in West County. “Right now, we can take care of 39 families in the city, and due to high demand, our current facilities have outgrown their function,” president and CEO Dan Harbaugh says. “Most nights we have 100% occupancy and a waiting list, and the number of requests continues to grow.” In 2019 alone, the nonprofit had to turn away a family in need 3,044 times.

To ensure it can serve more families, Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis is building a new house to replace the two in the Central West End, which will be located at 4321 Chouteau Ave. The new accommodations will have 72 bedrooms, as well as large dining areas, a commercial kitchen and chef, a rooftop patio, laundry facilities, fitness center, playrooms and a wing for immunosuppressed families. The location also will be more convenient for families because it is across the highway from Shriners Hospital for Children and equidistant from SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. “It’s such a perfect location,” Harbaugh notes. “Raising our capacity is going to ensure we can provide the highest quality care for families.”

Ground was broken on the new house in 2022, and it is expected to be completed in summer 2024. The project is funded through the Let’s Make Room campaign. The initiative aims to raise $34 million before construction is complete, and it’s almost there, having already received $30 million in donations. “We’re $4 million dollars away from opening the house debt free,” Harbaugh says. “We raise 100% of our annual operating budget right here in St. Louis, and without community support, the new Ronald McDonald House location would not be possible.”

Donations aren’t the only way that people can support Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis. Harbaugh notes that the nonprofit also relies on volunteers to help make families’ time in St. Louis as comfortable as possible. “St. Louis is blessed to be home to so many excellent pediatric hospitals,” he says. “Families come here feeling great trepidation, but there’s not a week that goes by without someone telling us they couldn’t have gotten through it without Ronald McDonald House. And we can’t do it without our volunteers and donors. It’s a huge positive that the community is able to come together to help these families feel comfortable and at home.”

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis provides a home-away-from-home to families of seriously ill children while supporting organizations that serve the needs of children. Pictured on the cover: Construction is under way on the new Ronald McDonald House in St. Louis City. For more information, call 314.773.1100 or visit

Cover design by Julie Streiler
Photo courtesy of Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis

Pictured at top: The new Ronald McDonald House is expected to open in summer 2024.
Photo courtesy of Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis

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