Weinberg Introduces Ronald McDonald House to Rotarians

by Pat Moynahan on July 10, 2017

Mike Weinberg of Cincinnati's Ronald McDonald House.

Mike Weinberg of Cincinnati’s Ronald McDonald House.

FLORENCE – Mike Weinberg says the Ronald McDonald House is much more than an affordable place to stay for family members with critically injured youngsters at Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

“We’re not just a shelter,” Weinberg said. “We provide all the things people are missing from home.

“It’s important to us that the families feel comfortable and happy … that it feels like home.”

Weinberg spoke at a meeting of the Florence Rotary Club on June 26. He is the director of volunteer services at the Ronald McDonald House of Greater Cincinnati, and it takes a bunch of them to create a family atmosphere for up to 78 families a night.

The Cincinnati facility is the fifth largest among the 353 Ronald McDonald houses worldwide. Located across the street from Children’s Hospital, the house served 2,004 families last year. It took 350 guest services volunteers and 13,000 meal, snack and activities volunteers to provide what Weinberg calls “family-centered care” to all of them.

The Ronald McDonald House offers home-cooked meals, laundry facilities, exercise rooms, games and activities, arts and crafts, and education for families who stay anywhere from a few days to more than a year. The average stay is 52 days.

The house employs two teachers to help children stay on track educationally.

“We work with their schools back home to make sure they keep up with their curriculum,” Weinberg said. “If they’re home schooled, we provide tutors.”

Teaching can be a challenge, especially if the children’s schools are in other countries. Families from China, Israel, Italy and Venezuela have stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in recent weeks. The Facetime computer program and translators help erase distance and language challenges for the teachers, according to Weinberg.

The Ronald McDonald House employs its own chefs. Most of the funding for food comes from corporate sponsors and individual donors, he said. Meal/snack volunteers in groups of 4-12 work with the chefs and fresh ingredients to prepare meals, then sit down to eat with the guest families.

“The kitchen is definitely the heart of our house,” Weinberg said.

Those home-cooked meals are one of those things that make the house a home.