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Ronald McDonald House Helps Families With Sick Children

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Aired 11/17/09

The Ronald McDonald House is a haven for families who have seriously ill children. We take a look at how this building is helping the community.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. There's a new resource in town for families of seriously ill children. Earlier this year, the Ronald McDonald House moved to an updated, bigger building. Now instead of 12 bedrooms there are 47 in a facility right across the street from Rady Children's Hospital. The Ronald McDonald Houses have been around for quite some time, but many of us, who have been fortunate enough not to need their services, don't know much about how they operate. Here to tell us a little history of the houses and more about the new expanded facility here in San Diego are my guests. Bill Lennartz, president and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House. Bill, welcome to These Days.

BILL LENNARTZ (President and CEO, Ronald McDonald House): Thank you for having us.

CAVANAUGH: And Connie Hernandez is a founding board member of the Ronald McDonald House. Connie, welcome.

CONNIE HERNANDEZ (Founding Board Member, Ronald McDonald House): Thank you so much for having us today.

CAVANAUGH: And I want to invite our listeners to join the conversation if they have questions about how the Ronald McDonald House operates, what facilities are available there. Give us a call if you’ve ever been a family member who stayed at the Ronald McDonald House here in San Diego or elsewhere. Please do call us and tell us what that was like, 1-888-895-5727, or 1-888-895-KPBS. Bill, I want to ask you, why was there a need for a bigger Ronald McDonald House here in San Diego?

LENNARTZ: Well, the population of San Diego has grown dramatically over the last few years and Rady Children’s Hospital also has grown, as have the other hospitals around in our local community. So we had a wonderful 12 bedroom home that’s been here for 30 years but in the last few years we were turning away as many as 100 families every month. And so it was just important for us to step up and to build this new house.

CAVANAUGH: How long was the old one in service?

LENNARTZ: It was in there for actually 29 years this year, so and during that time we had over 14,000 families stay in the house.

CAVANAUGH: Wow, that’s some record. Now, tell me about the new house. How big is it?

LENNARTZ: The new house has 47 bedrooms, so we can handle 47 families at a time, up from the 12 families and so that means that we really won’t have to turn anybody away. But in addition, we have a family care center that we didn’t have at the other house, and the family care center is made up of our chapel or somebody who – you don’t have to be staying at the house in order to use these facilities, you just have to have a child in the local hospitals. So they can come over and take a nap or they can use our showers or computer facility or chapel or laundry or our toddler room or just our living room, or just come over and have a meal or cook their own meals, so it’s wonderful.

CAVANAUGH: So it’s a resource for even more people than those who are staying there.

LENNARTZ: It is. That’s exactly what it is. We will serve over 20,000 people every year just through our family care center. And those families will not be staying, they’ll just have children over at the hospitals.

CAVANAUGH: Who can stay in the Ronald McDonald House?

LENNARTZ: Well, if you have a child in any of the local hospitals, you qualify to stay and so it is that simple. We work very closely with the people over at the hospitals who really are on the front line and they know who needs the help and who doesn’t, so we just work very closely with their social workers.

CAVANAUGH: And can – are the services free? I mean, can you stay in the Ronald McDonald House for free? Or is there a sliding scale or something like that?

LENNARTZ: No, it is for free. I mean, we tell the parents that stay there that it costs about $140.00 a day for us to stay in business but if they are unable to pay anything, there’s no questions asked. And they can come over for the meals that are free, everything is free. We have our donation boxes around and – but we don’t want anyone uncomfortable about not being able to pay for any of the services.

CAVANAUGH: I’m speaking with Bill Lennartz. He’s president and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House here in San Diego, and I’m about to speak with Connie Hernandez, a founding board member. We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. I do want to get in one call before I speak to you, Connie.

HERNANDEZ: Sure.

CAVANAUGH: Patrick is calling from San Diego. Good morning, Patrick, and welcome to These Days.

PATRICK (Caller, San Diego): Good morning. How are you?

CAVANAUGH: I’m very well. Thank you for calling.

PATRICK: I just wanted to call and basically thank anybody who is responsible for starting Ronald McDonald House. They were a huge help to me and my wife about a year ago when our son was born on leap day. He was born with Down syndrome and with that comes many complications usually, with typically with kids with Down syndrome. And we were able to stay in the Ronald McDonald House in Burlington, Vermont for about a month. And it really helped us out just as far as hotel fees and such.

CAVANAUGH: And when you were staying there for a month, what other kinds of services did the Ronald McDonald House in Vermont offer?

PATRICK: Basically when we would stay there, typically in the evenings and in the mornings, and they usually would have groups of people, whether it was Boy Scouts of America or any other organizations or students that could come in and they would cook the meals and we would be able to eat basically home cooked meals and then also just the social networking service between other parents that were going through some of the same experiences was great.

CAVANAUGH: And how are you doing now, Patrick?

PATRICK: We’re doing great, thank you.

CAVANAUGH: Okay. Well, thank you so much for calling.

PATRICK: I appreciate it.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Connie, as I say, you’re one of the founding board members. And you lost a child to leukemia before there were Ronald McDonald Houses. Do you – Could you share some of that story with us and tell us what that was like when you had to go into the hospital with your child back in those days? And when was it?

HERNANDEZ: Actually, it was August of 1976, and I remember the whole country was out celebrating the bicentennial so there was a lot of fanfare, there was a lot of other things happening. And our son Matthew was diagnosed in August of 1976. And just as a follow-up to what the caller just mentioned, in terms of a child being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, it’s not just that child, it’s not just that family member but the whole family is in turmoil in terms of trying to save that one individual. Matthew was diagnosed for what we thought – I took him in to the doctor. He had a cold that wouldn’t go away. He was my fourth child. So as a mom, you know. You know that there is something more serious going on. And within 24 hours of his admission to Children’s Hospital, we were told that Matthew had a 50% chance of surviving the week and that he would not live to celebrate his first birthday. So in 1976, I have to say there was not the option of a bone marrow transplant. The treatments were very different than they are today. So as you went in, it was a minimum ten-day stay. Your child was on an IV. Matthew was only four and a half months old, which meant restraining him if we weren’t there to care for him. He was – we were there with him on a 24 hour basis. There were no facilities for parents to stay. We had to really advocate and fight in some cases just to stay with Matthew. We put two chairs together to sleep on. We used the nurses’ facilities. They were very, very gracious in allowing us that. And so when a family is first thrust into that type of crises, you always feel, regardless of the diagnosis, that your child is going to be the exception. And I’m sure many thousands of parents that are out there feel that. If you pray enough, if you get the best treatment, if you hope enough, if you’re just with him enough, your child will survive. Well, unfortunately for us, that wasn’t the case and on December 18th, a week before Christmas, we lost our battle. In January of the following year, Gus Field, who was a social worker at Children’s Hospital, an angel, she formed – helped us form a group of parents and the only commonality that existed between us was the fact that each of us had lost a child to leukemia within the past six months. So after we met for probably six months just commiserating, trying to support one another, we got a notion of this movement that was actually going on in the country. And in 1977, I believe, or ’74, there was a first Ronald McDonald House but I would like to make the distinction. There was a Ronald McDonald House, which is an organization or a group that existed between parents who had lost children, a local children’s hospital, and the National Football League, and it was the Philadel…

CAVANAUGH: The National Football League?

HERNANDEZ: Yes, and it was…

CAVANAUGH: How did that get involved in that?

HERNANDEZ: Well, Kim – Fred Hill, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles, who, I must say, is still a strong advocate of the Ronald McDonald Houses throughout the country now, his daughter Kim was diagnosed with leukemia. So his teammates rallied around him and said, you know, what do you need? We’ve got to help in some way. So from that one diagnosis, from – you know, a lot of times celebrities, when that happens, great things happen. And he engaged the support of his teammates, the Philadelphia Eagles, he engaged the support of local children’s hospital where his daughter was being treatment, and then the McDonald Corporation came in to support those efforts. But I do have to say that that was just a Ronald McDonald House. So they started popping up all over the country as people got wind of this. And I’m very proud to say and humbled by the fact that ours was the 19th house to open nationally and now there are nearly 300 in 52 countries around the world.

CAVANAUGH: Wow, I didn’t know it was international.

HERNANDEZ: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: That’s very exciting.

HERNANDEZ: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: Let me tell everyone that we are talking about the Ronald McDonald House expansion here in San Diego. And I am speaking with Connie Hernandez. She is a founding board member. And with Bill Lennartz, president and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House. We’re inviting your phone calls. If you’ve ever been at the Ronald McDonald House or received services when your child was sick, give us a call, or if you have questions about the facility. The number is 1-888-895-5727. You know, Connie, I want to thank you for sharing that because I know that this is something you never really get over and this is always going – an emotional thing for you. Did you have any input in the kind of services that the Ronald McDonald House would offer to families in situations that you found yourself in. Obviously, you were trying to sleep in the hospital, you were trying to, you know, deal with the fact that your son was so terribly ill, and keep body and soul together of your family…

HERNANDEZ: Umm-hmm.

CAVANAUGH: …at the same time. What kind of suggestions did you have for the kind of programs at Ronald McDonald House?

HERNANDEZ: Well, I do have to say that we were a very small group, and, of course I make reference to our first house which was only an 8 bedroom house to begin with. When the opportunity for bone marrow transplant came about, we knew that we needed to have some private rooms and so we expanded the facility to 12 bedrooms. Because we were a small group primarily of parents, we have every input. Everything that went into building the house and the new, magnificent 47 bedroom house, it’s all based on parents’ experience, parents’ needs. You can call the Ronald McDonald House, it’s been called the house that love built, but, truly, it is a haven for families. It’s a place of hope, it’s a place where parents can come together and have the type of facilities that are needed. If you need to just be alone, there’s that opportunity. If you need to meditate, now in our new, beautiful facility there is a meditation space, a chapel, a workout room. It would’ve been magnificent to have all of those then. So it all comes to play because of – we’ve answered the need specifically of those parents, their social workers, psychologists. And as I mentioned before, in terms of treating the whole family, the siblings may be there and so they need that kind of support because you are so focused on making sure that you’re going to save your child, that whole circle of care comes into play.

CAVANAUGH: Bill, how long does a family generally stay at the Ronald McDonald House?

LENNARTZ: Well, we have two categories. About half of our families stay for three to four days, and about half of the families stay about three to four weeks. As long as their child is in a local hospital here in San Diego, they’re welcome at the house.

CAVANAUGH: And why do people choose to stay at the Ronald McDonald House? In other words, if they live in San Diego and their child is hospitalized here in San Diego, why would they choose to live at the Ronald McDonald House? Would it be for extended family members who were coming in from out of town? I’m just trying to figure that out.

LENNARTZ: It might be for extended family members but for a parent, it’s 24/7 and maybe they live in Ramona or 15 or 20 miles away…

CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm.

LENNARTZ: …and so that commute becomes very difficult two or three times a day. So we have the whole gamut, and we have families that come in from Imperial County, that we’re a very important resource to Imperial County. So…

CAVANAUGH: And Connie?

HERNANDEZ: Yeah, as a parent having that experience, as I said, we did stay with our son 24 hours a day. When I’d leave to go visit my other children, there were times when as soon as I got home, I got a call, Matthew had taken a turn for the worst, he had a bad reaction to medication, and so I immediately had to drive by. I cannot imagine having – When you have the closeness of that type of facility, believe me, when your child is in danger of dying from whatever illness or whatever treatment he or she is undergoing, you want to be there, you want to be as close as possible.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another phone call. Lauren is calling from Lakeside. Good morning, Lauren, and welcome to These Days.

LAUREN (Caller, Lakeside): Good morning. I just wanted to call and say how happy I am that the Ronald McDonald House is expanding. My son got encephalitis, similar to West Nile virus in August of 2006, and we started off in Phoenix and then went to Naval Medical Center San Diego because we’re a Navy family, and then ended up at Rady Children’s. And at that time, there wasn’t room for us at the Ronald McDonald House and we were living in hospitals and going through a lot of what you were just talking about and describing in ’76. And it was, you know, still going on just two years ago, also. But it’s so great that they expanded and I’m so happy. I read about it, the expansion, I was really, really happy that this is going to be happening and there was going to be more room. And people – I think people know that there’s a house there and I think sometimes we forget that we need to keep helping out.

CAVANAUGH: I want to ask you, Lauren, if there had been that space available at the Ronald McDonald House, how do you think that would’ve helped you as opposed to what you had to go through?

LAUREN: You know, and really I think that a couple of times things opened up but we were pretty close, like you were just talking about people from Imperial County and Ramona, we were pretty close, and so we might not have taken it even then just so someone else could’ve had that space…

CAVANAUGH: Right.

LAUREN: …but the difference now with the expansion maybe we wouldn’t have felt, you know, awkward because we are like that local San Diego family you were wondering why you would stay. But that same feeling that you were just talking about, about, you know, even as – if you’re only a few miles away, it’s an immeasurable distance when your child could die and you’re not there and so just to be there – like at the time, I was eight and a half months pregnant and he was still in the hospital when I had to go over to Balboa and have my other son.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

LAUREN: And I knew that I would not be able to leave Balboa for, you know, the time that I was admitted there because I was, you know, giving birth and all that and I knew there was absolutely no way I could get there if anything happened, and it was an amazing, horrible feeling to know that you can’t just traverse 10 miles.

CAVANAUGH: Right. Thank you, Lauren, so much for your phone call. Thanks for sharing your story with us. That’s one of the people that you used to have to turn away from your door, Bill.

LENNARTZ: Oh, it just breaks your heart. And as the community is growing and the hospitals are becoming better and better, it was just important for us to step up and there wasn’t a decision, it just had to be done and it had to be done for the community.

CAVANAUGH: We have to take a short break. When we return, I want to talk about this new facility itself because the structure – construction of it is really quite remarkable. And we will continue to take your calls at 1-888-895-5727. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.

CAVANAUGH: Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. My guests are Bill Lennartz, president and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House here in San Diego, Connie Hernandez, a founding board member of the house. We’re talking about the new expanded Ronald McDonald House. The bedrooms have expanded from 12 to 47. It’s a facility right across the street from Rady Children’s Hospital. And we’re talking about the kinds of services the house provides and the kinds of families who need those services. We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727, if you have a question or a comment about the Ronald McDonald House, houses across the country and the one right here in San Diego. And the number once again is 1-888-895-KPBS. Bill, tell us a little bit about the construction of this new facility because I know it’s built on top of a parking lot. How did that happen?

LENNARTZ: Well, it is, it’s built on top of a six-story parking structure that holds 1050 cars. Our board, in their wisdom, began to search for a new location to build the house. The ideal location is always directly across the street from the hospital. The closest land that they could get to Rady Children’s Hospital was about a mile away. And so when the hospital decided to build this parking structure, together with the hospital, our board determined that why don’t we just put the house right on top of the parking structure and it turned out to be a great idea and Connie and the board deserve all the credit for coming up with this unique approach. And it is, it’s 100 feet across the street from the entrance to Rady’s and so it’s the ideal location for our families.

CAVANAUGH: Connie, which came first? It’s a chicken and egg question. The parking lot or the new building?

HERNANDEZ: Well, that was – that’s really interesting because what actually happened is we had to make the decision prior to construction in order to provide the appropriate support. So when you say what came first, it had to happen – we had to be – move forward as a board to make that decision as Children was building that structure.

CAVANAUGH: That’s interesting. And as unusual as this sounds, what I learned from reading about the new Ronald McDonald House is that it is a very environmentally friendly building. It’s got a LEED certification. Tell us a little bit about that.

LENNARTZ: Well, it is LEED certified. In today’s environment, I can’t imagine building any building that isn’t LEED certified. And there’s certain categories that depend on the way you build it and the way that you deal with the construction, the materials, and whatever, and the way you deal with the heat and the energy and the water, and so it’s all just the proper planning and with our architects, Joseph Wong, and the contractor, Barnhart Construction, Barnhart- Heery, we were about to do this. And it’s just a magnificent facility for our community and it’s LEED certified.

CAVANAUGH: And are you going to get some solar panels? You’re planning on solar panels for energy, too?

LENNARTZ: We – they are being installed in the next 30 days.

CAVANAUGH: Oh-ho, okay.

LENNARTZ: And so – and that will take care of about 40% of our electrical needs.

CAVANAUGH: Wow, that’s really…

HERNANDEZ: That’s remarkable.

CAVANAUGH: It is remarkable. Connie, what’s the reaction of the families when they see this new facility? Have you been there when you’ve greeted people that come in?

HERNANDEZ: Yes, I have been privileged to see some of the families come in and it’s just – It doesn’t even have to be a family. Anyone that walks through our doors is absolutely astounded at what they see, this absolutely beautiful facility that’s also inviting. And that’s quite a challenge. My husband and I have visited Ronald McDonald Houses all over the country and I think that that is the challenge, to provide this space, this haven, for that many families and at the same time make it a very homelike, warm, welcoming environment. And I think just as one of the previous callers mentioned, that having this much space allows folks that are very local not to feel guilty about taking up that room at the house. And I do have to say that everyone is very pleased, surprised, overwhelmed with the beauty and the comfort and warmth from a terrific staff and the environment itself.

CAVANAUGH: Bill, can anyone come and see this new facility?

HERNANDEZ: Yes, tours…

LENNARTZ: They can and thank you. We welcome the community to come. They can just come right to the front door and come in and we have, in our receptionist area, people that can take them around and this is a wonderful new facility for our community and we’d love to have our community come take a look at it.

CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Right now, on the line, Yvonne in Imperial Valley. Good morning, Yvonne. Welcome to These Days.

YVONNE (Caller, Imperial Valley): Yes, hi. Good morning, and thank you for taking my call. Well, mine is more of a question than a comment. Is there any Ronald McDonald Houses in Palm Springs area?

LENNARTZ: No, there are not. There are four in the Los Angeles area, one in Las Vegas, and one in Phoenix and then one in San Diego.

YVONNE: Oh, I see. Because my experience sort of came almost six years ago where I live in the Imperial Valley and so we’re kind of in a very bad situation that most of the services that we need, whether premature birth or any other complications we’re sent either to the San Diego area or the Palm Springs. In my case, I was sent over to Palm Springs and they had just built sort of like a home in front of the Desert Regional in Palm Springs and when we went there to ask for lodging, they said that our daughter didn’t qualify because she wasn’t terminal. And she was in the ICU for over a month.

CAVANAUGH: Wow.

YVONNE: And it was very difficult and so I think the Ronald McDonald Houses are great and I think that there is another area that, you know, perhaps in the future something can be provided for us that live in the Imperial Valley and there’s sort of a coin toss whether we’re sent to San Diego or Palm Springs.

CAVANAUGH: Yvonne, thank you so much for calling. How’s your daughter now?

YVONNE: Oh, she’s great.

CAVANAUGH: Okay, good. Thank you so much for calling. So the resource is – how – anybody whose child is in a San Diego hospital, that’s what our Ronald McDonald House covers, is that correct?

LENNARTZ: That is correct. All they need is a child in any of our local hospitals and then they’re free to come and use all the services of our house.

HERNANDEZ: We’ve had families come from as far away as Hawaii that come to Rady’s Children’s Hospital for kidney transplant, liver transplant, that type of thing, and when you have a procedure like this, it’s just understood that the stay will be long. So when you heard the voice of that mom that called in, that’s what drives us to do the work that needs to be done, our – with the leadership of our board and Bill and his great staff because you can sense that.

CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

HERNANDEZ: And they are on the front lines and that’s what they deal with on a daily basis.

CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. Estehia (sp), I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly, is calling from San Diego. Estehia, welcome to These Days.

ESTEHIA (Caller, San Diego): Hi, good morning.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, hi.

ESTEHIA: I was just calling because my son, he actually had to spend a month in the NICU after he was born. Anyway, I hear you guys calling the Ronald McDonald a haven, and I think it really was because, you know, you don’t expect to have a sick child. You don’t grow up thinking you’re going to have a sick child and then when you do, you feel all alone. And I think that the Ronald McDonald, I think the best thing it did for me and my husband was that it made us feel that, you know, this happens to more than – it happens to more people than we think and, you know, it was a place to help us heal. And I think that’s really great for families to be able to heal together when they have an unexpected sick child.

CAVANAUGH: So the camaraderie, knowing that there were other people in similar situations was very helpful for you, is that correct?

ESTEHIA: Yeah, because, you know, you don’t understand when you don’t have a sick child and then when you do, it’s really great to be able to talk to parents who understand exactly where you’re coming from.

CAVANAUGH: Thanks so much for your call. I really appreciate it. You know, Bill, I assume many people think the Ronald McDonald Houses are funded entirely by the McDonald Corporation. Is that the case?

LENNARTZ: That is not the case. We are our own local 501(c)(3) and we license the name, the Ronald McDonald House Charities from Ronald McDonald House Charities in Oakville – Oakview…

CAVANAUGH: Park…

LENNARTZ: I’m sorry. Around Chicago. And as long as we meet certain criteria, we can maintain that name of which we pay a dollar a year for. So…

CAVANAUGH: Do the McDon – Does the McDonald Corporation provide any of your funding?

LENNARTZ: McDonald’s Corporation allow – gives a $50,000 donation to each house when it starts up and – but that’s the limit of it. But there’s a very good close relationship with the local McDonald owner/operators in San Diego. There’s 120 McDonalds in San Diego and we have canisters in front of each cash register and that generates about 10% of our annual operating needs. And so they’re wonderful friends and they do wonderful things for us. They also give us milk and eggs and other products. But that’s the extent of the relationship, so we have our hand out just about everywhere else that we can.

CAVANAUGH: So you’re fundraising a lot.

LENNARTZ: We are. We’re always fundraising, yes.

CAVANAUGH: I wonder, let me ask you, Connie, and I want to get the impression from both of you. I imagine this can be emotionally draining work that you guys do. What are the rewards of working for this Ronald McDonald House?

HERNANDEZ: Well, I have to tell you that as a parent, I still remember to this day a look on the face of a woman that came in as we opened our first house in December of 1980. She walked in and I could see she was drained emotionally, she was very tired, she had one of her children with her and asked, they told me over at the hospital that I could stay here. And when I proceeded to welcome her and let her know what was available, a warm bed, the opportunity to have meals here, the opportunity to be here with her family, she broke down and cried actually, and was so grateful for that. So when people thank my husband and I or other parents that helped start this house, I think to myself the thank you is in the reception and the look of those folks that we’re able to help. Everyone has their own way of dealing with loss and for my husband and I, the fact that we’ve been able to do this, that’s the healing, that’s the reward that we get, that we are able to welcome families. And now that we’ve got 47 bedrooms, it just multiplies. I mean, exponentially this is what we’re able to do and that’s what’s so exciting. And the way – You mentioned about the funding, I mean, we really have to thank so many folks in the community, so many corporations that have come to support our causes. Of course, we always need more and you know this at KPBS with your drives, and we thank you so much for having us here today, but along with that is an ongoing effort. So I can’t tell you how much we’ve gained from this on a personal level.

CAVANAUGH: And do you feel the same, Bill? I know you’re a hardnosed business guy.

LENNARTZ: Wow, I didn’t realize that was preceding me. My experience is business. I’ve spend 45 years in business in the corporate world and it is probably the highest – it’s not probably. It is the highest honor in my life to be part of this organization. And our staff, Sandy Camarillo, the Chief Operating Officer, and Gabi Rivers, the house manager and their staffs just work off of compassion. And it is the most amazing thing that I’ve ever been part of, the most amazing team. And they’re the ones that really make this happen and that make this house function. But I have a father the other day after Monday Night Football that we offer, he said, you just gave me three hours of normalcy.

CAVANAUGH: Umm.

LENNARTZ: And I had a mother come out of our hair salon that said, how do I ever thank you for – I never would have been able to have done this. And this is almost on a daily basis and that is more fulfillment than one should have in their lifetime. This is really special and I’m really honored to be part of it.

CAVANAUGH: One last thing that I want to mention, one caller who couldn’t stay on the line was asking are there volunteer opportunities at the Ronald McDonald House and how can someone get involved in that?

LENNARTZ: Oh, thank her for asking. Last month, we had over 4000 hours of volunteers that answered the telephones and that served meals and just the whole gamut. And so that’s very important to us. We have a paid staff of about 27 individuals and 4000 hours equates to about 24 full time people, so our volunteers are wonderful and we really couldn’t do it without them.

CAVANAUGH: And how can they contact you?

HERNANDEZ: They can contact us, they can go to our website at www.rmhcsd.org or call at 858-467-4750.

CAVANAUGH: I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there but…

HERNANDEZ: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: …I want to thank you both so much. Thank you.

LENNARTZ: Thank you so much for having us.

CAVANAUGH: I’ve been speaking with Bill Lennartz, President and CEO of the Ronald McDonald House, and

Connie Hernandez, a founding board member. And if you’d like to post a comment, you can go online, KPBS.org/TheseDays. Thank you for listening to These Days on KPBS.

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