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Discover the new R. McDonald House
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 31 mai 2012

Photo: Ingrid Wissink

Montreal Ronald McDonald House funding campaign directors Christiane Germain and Andrew Molson

Members of the media were invited to visit the expanded facilities of the Montreal Ronald McDonald House, a guesthouse for sick children and their families, during a press conference Mon. May 28. The manor now comprises 50 rooms instead of 35, and offers extensive facilities including two home cinemas, a playground, computers and an outdoor barbeque.

The House has been located directly beside the CHU Sainte-Justine since December 2011, providing a nearby haven for families from outside of Montreal with children undergoing treatment at Sainte-Justine’s technologically advanced facility.

After being introduced by Montreal Ronald McDonald House president Normand Renaud, Rocco Lofano, regional vice-president of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited, spoke in the sunny, spacious lobby. Despite the new, expanded facilities, Lofano announced that the cost of a room has remained at ten dollars per day since 1972.

Gabrielle Boucher, a young mother, confirms the value of the service. “Thank God the House is here,” she said. “Otherwise we would have had nowhere else to go.” After losing one prematurely born infant in December, she has stayed at the facility ever since as she watches over her other son receiving treatment for heart problems at the hospital.

“I only come here to eat and sleep,” she says. “If I’m not here, I’m at the hospital. When I get overwhelmed over there, I come here, I go to my room, and I find peace. It’s like my second home.”

“Rebuilding the House, we redesigned it so that the rooms are bigger and more comfortable,” declares Renaud, as well as pointing out ecological changes such as the integration of geothermal and water collection technology.

The hotel-style bedrooms are sleek and brightly lit, with leather couches and large beds. Full private bathrooms and air conditioning are also on offer, and laundry products, books, games and coffee are free for guests.

Christiane Germain, director of Groupe Germain and Andrew Molson, vice-president of the Molson Coors board, headed the funding campaign for the project. Since Germain’s career has been centred on the hotel business, she was able to lend expertise on creating a warm and welcoming environment.

“Everything is built in terms of accessibility,“ says Jason Patuano, regional communications director for McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada, pointing to the wide staircase. He notes the open design of the high-ceilinged cafeteria, which was centred on fostering a convivial ambiance. “Here, parents can exchange with others who are going through the same thing.”

Later, Boucher ended her official speech with an appeal to support the House. “One shouldn’t wait for misfortune to hit before making a donation.”

[ Ingrid Wissink ]

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