Ronald McDonald House expands in multi-million dollar renovation

A multi-million dollar expansion of one charity in Missoula will allow numerous families across Montana to have a place to call "home," while their child is in the hospital. 

"We wanted this house to be a place of ordinary, while experiencing the extraordinary," Western Montana Ronald McDonald House CEO Amy Peterson said. 

It's a place for families in tough medical circumstances to call home, and allows families to stay close to their hospitalized child at little to no cost. 

"The relief was instant, knowing there was a place to stay that was close by when you're really stressed out," Laura Smith said. 

Dozens of Montanans gathered outside the Western Montana Ronald McDonald house charity in Missoula to see the grand opening to the $3.1 million dollar expansion. 

Laura Smith stayed at the Ronald McDonald house while pregnant with her first daughter Clara in 2017. 

"I learned that I had a complication that really could endanger her life and my life as well. The doctor said I needed to be close to the hospital and they directed me to the Ronald McDonald house," Smith said. 

When the Ronald McDonald house first opened in 2006, it had eight family suites. Immediately there were many families on a wait list. 

"Just last year alone we had to turn away 72 families simply because we didn't have space," Peterson said. 

The expansion adds eight more family suites, doubling the size. It equals to more than 2,900 additional room nights a year. 

"Being at the Ronald McDonald house honestly made our family possible, which makes me tear up every time I think about it," Smith said. 

More than 260 people or organizations donated to the expansion, which allowed renovations to the lobby, play room, comfy new beds for families to sleep on and call home. 

"We now have a two year old who is thriving and a family. The Ronald McDonald house is a place that represents home to me," Smith said. 

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