The Southern California chapter of Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC) is the largest in the U.S. with total assets exceeding $30 million. Its genesis began in 1977 with the planning for the region’s first Ronald McDonald House® in Los Angeles, mere blocks from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. That House opened in 1980 as a 16-bedroom home-away-from-home for families of children undergoing treatment for serious illnesses and injuries. When it opened its doors, the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House was only the third in the network (which today exceeds more than 280 around the world). In 2008, the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House expanded its services, opening a new building adjacent to the original facility. In total, the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House can now serve 75 families per night.
In 1982, a group of caring individuals teamed to develop Camp Good Times, a year-round camp designed to afford children with cancer a break from hospitals and an opportunity to just be “ordinary kids” by enjoying an exciting camping adventure. Two years later, it was re-named Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times®. As part of its master plan for expansion and permanence, the Camp relocated to the pine-filled mountain community of Idyllwild just west of Palm Springs.
By 1989, a second local house was built in Orange County, adjacent to CHOC Children’s, but also within proximity of UCI Medical Center, St. Joseph Hospital and other medical centers. This facility possesses the ability to accommodate 20 families.
In 1999, the Orange County Ronald McDonald House extended its services to the hospital setting by opening a Ronald McDonald Family Room inside CHOC Children’s at Mission, in Mission Viejo. The two-room facility provides a retreat for parents with children in pediatric or neonatal intensive care units, allowing them to sleep, shower and recharge while remaining within steps of their hospitalized child. In 2007, a second Ronald McDonald Family Room opened at CHOC Children’s in Orange.
In 1995, another Ronald McDonald House was built in Loma Linda, near world famous Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. The opening of this 19-room House made the local chapter the first anywhere to operate three Ronald McDonald Houses. This facility subsequently added three private duplexes to supplement the house’s ability to accommodate families.
On Valentine’s Day 2004, the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House opened its doors. Affectionately nicknamed the “House that Love Built,” this seven-room Craftsman-style home is adjacent to Huntington Hospital and serves families from 14 other hospitals throughout the San Gabriel Valley. A neighboring home was added to boost the total overnight capacity to 11 families.
On June 4, 2009, the Bakersfield Ronald McDonald House opened to provide assistance to families of children receiving treatment at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and other nearby medical facilities. The three-bedroom facility supports families who live more than 25-miles from Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. It also provides day-use services to local residents whose children are receiving treatment in the hospital’s pediatric and neonatal intensive care units.
On December 15, 2011, the 23-room Long Beach Ronald McDonald House opened its doors. Located on the Long Beach Memorial Hospital campus, the Long Beach Ronald McDonald House provides low-cost temporary housing for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at Miller Children’s Hospital and other nearby medical facilities.
In addition to the six Houses, two Family Rooms and Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern California maintains a grant-making organization which donates money to non-profit children’s organizations. This entity has supported programs addressing education (including funding of scholarships for four grandfathered Southern California programs that benefit high school seniors), healthcare, the arts and social and civic reform. Since its inception, the Community Grants Board has raised and distributed more than $14.5 million locally.