Local organization provides housing for out-of-town families with children admitted to local hospitals

A local organization offers out-of-town families whose children are admitted to the local hospital a home away from home.

the Ronald McDonald House in St. Petersburg provides free food and accommodation to these families.

Amy Lopez and her partner Marissa Watson spend a lot of time in hospitals with their 18-year-old daughter, Alyziah. Lopez said her daughter suffered an anoxic brain injury when she was nine years old.

“For nine years we have been in and out of hospitals,” Marissa Watson’s bonus parent ‘Alyziah said. “We’ve been everywhere in Orlando. We’ve been to Arnold Palmer, Nemours Children’s Hospital, St Joe’s and now John Hopkins All Children’s.”

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They said they were very grateful to Ronald McDonald House and their help in providing food and lodging.

“I don’t think a lot of people can afford to stay in a hotel every day,” said Lopez, Alyziah’s mother. “I mean, you think if you figure it out, you’re going to pay between $80 and $120 for a regular, average hotel room.”

For four years, Ralph Contursi and his best friend Richard Crandall have teamed up to feed the families of Ronald McDonald House.

“It’s nice to be able to provide something relatively simple, like a hot meal, and yet it makes people’s lives so much easier when they come and go from the hospital with sick children,” Contursi explained.

They are part of a group of volunteers who provide the free meals. Joe Citro, director of development and marketing for all McDonald’s charities, said volunteers are essential to the work Ronald McDonald House does for families every day.

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“So, you know, families are sitting around McDonald’s, they’re staying here because their child, unfortunately, is going through a really tough time,” Citro said.

For families, it’s nice to stay somewhere comfortable when there’s so much uncertainty.

“They’ve been super accommodating,” Lopez said. “They always listened to us, always helped us to have a room to sleep, a shower, a laundry, helping us financially to be able to eat. It’s a big difference. A huge difference. ”

The Ronald McDonald House in Tampa Bay provides meals, lodging and support to more than 2,000 families annually.

They are participating in the SuperKids League campaign until May 6. It’s a time to celebrate families and the community that supports them. For more information, visit https://rmhctampabay.org.

Aubrey L. Morgan