I have been volunteering with children’s charities in New York City for almost a decade, but none has touched me as much as my recent visits to the Ronald McDonald House on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Founded in 1978, the Ronald McDonald House of New York provides temporary housing for pediatric cancer patients and their families receiving treatment in the New York City area. It’s the largest facility of its type in the world. I have participated in various volunteering events at the house in the past few months, and I know that the dedication and love I’ve seen from this organization will deeply touch anyone who comes into contact with the staff, volunteers, and, of course, the wonderful and brave kids staying there.
The facility is amazing. The Ronald McDonald House of New York has a state-of-the-art computer room, a comfy TV and movie room, professional murals on every wall, daily activities from cooking classes to arts and crafts, and a full gourmet kitchen and dining room. The staff wants the kids staying here to feel special, and it shows from the minute you enter. So I was thrilled when we chose the house for one of our 12 Days of Havas.
The house can accommodate 83 families, and it is filled to capacity almost every night. Its location in Manhattan, close to 12 major cancer treatment centers, draws children and families from across the country and the world, as well as from the metropolitan New York City area. The Ronald McDonald House supports each family and coordinates emotional and physical services, psychological care, ministry support, wellness programs, tutors, music, art, transportation, activities for siblings, holiday and birthday parties, and companionship for parents struggling with their child’s cancer diagnosis. It never charges families more than $35 per night, which includes room and board, all meals and daily activities. Individuals, foundations and corporations support the house.
November 2013 marks the 35th anniversary of the Ronald McDonald House of New York. Since its opening, more than 30,000 families have stayed there. Havas PR’s assignment for the 12 Days of Havas is to brainstorm big ideas on how to celebrate this milestone. The house’s staff is looking for ideas that would incorporate a grand celebration event and ongoing marketing initiatives that could run all year. It would also like to tap into its celebrity supporters and get them involved as much as possible to generate additional publicity for the anniversary.
Havas PR will be conducting brainstorming meetings over the next week to generate ideas that are sure to bring great publicity around the anniversary. Initial ideas include getting the first families who were in the house 35 years ago back for the anniversary, providing VIP tours and housing for top media to experience the Ronald McDonald House first hand, and launching the anniversary with a full week of celebrity parties and consumer events.
We are excited to be working on this assignment for the Ronald McDonald House of New York and being part of the ongoing planning of the 2013 anniversary. I hope everyone gets a chance one day to volunteer at this amazing place.
[photo: Ronald McDonald House]