Ronald McDonald House Celebrates 10 Years With Remodeling

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It was supposed to be a different kind of celebration for Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley’s 10th anniversary.

Ronald McDonald House Executive Director Christina Riley, center, thanks representatives from One Room Wonders and Smart Playrooms, who remodeled portions of the Valhalla facility. Board President Richard Landau, right, looks on.

Having opened in 2011 across the parking lot from Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, under more normal conditions there may have been a large gala or another type of major celebration.

But instead, it welcomed its partners and the community to its grounds last Friday afternoon and paid tribute to the people and organizations who helped Ronald McDonald House freshen and remodel its facilities through the pandemic.

“I think we got a better gift because now we have these incredible spaces for families,” said Christina Riley, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of the Hudson Valley. “Now that the world is coming back together, it really kind of instills hope in humanity what all these people have done.”

During the past year, One Room Wonders, a Westchester nonprofit organization founded by Harrison resident Sara Touijer helps other nonprofits redesign their spaces. Smart Playrooms, a firm started by Karrie Bowen-Poole, designs unique children’s playrooms. Both approached Ronald McDonald House to see if they could contribute their talents and resources.

The redesigned Great Room at Ronald McDonald House.

What came from their philanthropic endeavors was a redesigned Great Room and kitchen by One Room Wonders and an overhauled playroom space that is used by the siblings of Maria Fareri patients.

The remodeling of those areas didn’t cost Ronald McDonald House a dollar,” Riley said.

Richard Landau, president of the Ronald McDonald House board, said since its doors opened 10 years ago, the 12 residential rooms where families can stay while their child is treated at Maria Fareri, have served more than 2,000 families over about 32,000 nights.

Landau, whose niece passed away at the children’s hospital 17 years ago and whose name is on the outside of the playroom, said everyone connected with Ronald McDonald House is grateful for the assistance that One Room Wonders, Smart Playrooms and all the organizations and some 3,000 volunteers a year who help them complete their mission.

“So it’s awful that we get to do it, but we only get to do it because of the help that we get,” Landau said.

Riley said after the facility’s first decade the space was due for a bit of a makeover. What is critical at Ronald McDonald House is to make sure its spaces area as warm and inviting as possible for families that are going through a crisis that most people will not experience.

The new playroom that was part of the Ronald McDonald remodeling.

“They don’t want to be here, we don’t want them to be here, but if they have to be at least they have a beautiful, comforting, welcoming space to be,” Riley said.

County Legislator Nancy Barr presented proclamations to Touijer, and her One Room Wonders Chairman Bjorn Bjornsson and to Bowen-Poole for their efforts.