Local Charity Gets Help From Unexpected Source

According to its website, Ronald McDonald House’s primary mission is to provide a “a temporary ‘home-away-from-home’ for pediatric cancer patients and their families.” Throughout its 36 years of existence, it has striven to ease the shock, pain and suffering of families facing the prospect of losing a child.

Ronald McDonald House, with the help of contributors like Start Elevator, has assisted more than 30,000 people, as well, and does so for a price of only $35 a night. For that affordable price, parents and siblings of sick children have access to tutors, music classes, art workshops and other fun activities. Ronald McDonald House also arranges for transportation to and from its location. Family members struggling with their own health issues, whether mental, physical or both, can avail themselves of treatment as part of their stay.

Being a not-for-profit organization, Ronald McDonald House relies on its fundraising activities and on charitable donations for all of its operating expenses. The organization runs dog walks, golf tournaments, parties, including Christmas parties with international themes, masquerade balls and even skating with former NHL stars, such as Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers.

The House also sponsors donation-matching programs; one of those is called Share-a-Night, where donors contribute $35 to offset the cost of staying a night for a single family. Generous donors can also contribute old automobiles, trucks, motorcycles and even RVs and boats so that they can either be sold or used by visiting families or by the staff of Ronald McDonald House itself. Such donations are fully tax deductible at the vehicle’s fair market value.

Other fundraising efforts include the Pop Tab Program, which helps the city stay greener through recycling, and the Parents Pantry Program, in which students in area schools collect and donate nonperishable foods and other necessities, such as toiletries and paper goods.

Donors have several other options when it comes to supporting Ronald McDonald House. Frequent travelers can donate their collected air miles, which helps defray the costs of families who must fly to be with their sick child and cannot afford the tickets. As part of the House Seats Program, sick children and their families can make use of donated tickets to theaters, sporting events and other activities outside the House. Families can make good use of these tickets to get away from the uncertainty and other rigors of dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Many area businesses match donations in kind, which doesn’t necessarily mean money. For example, if a donor were to give 20 cases of toothpaste, an area grocery store would match it with 20 cases of its own.

Ronald McDonald House partners with the following 19 area hospitals and medical centers:

  • Hospital for Special Surgery
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore
  • Bellevue Hospital Center
  • Kings County Hospital Center
  • Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York Presbyterian
  • New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical
  • Lenox Hill Hospital
  • Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital
  • Tisch Hospital
  • Hassenfeld Pediatric Center
  • Hospital for Joint Diseases
  • Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • The Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai
  • Mount Sinai Beth Israel
  • Mount Sinai Roosevelt
  • Mount Sinai St. Luke’s
  • New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai

Building upkeep is a never-ending battle, especially because of the heavy use to which the East 73rd Street edifice is put. When the elevators conked out, a local businessman named John O’Shea called together the staff of his company, Start Elevator, and installed two, sparkling-new elevators free-of-charge. Mr. O’Shea is a frequent donor to Ronald McDonald House in other ways, too, and the charity is quite grateful for his help. In keeping with his desire to help those who suffer with sickness of any type, Mr. O’Shea also offered to repair an elevator in a Bronx apartment building so that a young boy with cerebral palsy could easily get out to go to all of his appointments. Start Elevator also did that job for nothing.

Start Elevator is a 22-year-old company based in the Bronx. It performs work on elevators throughout the tri-state area and, with annual sales of roughly $18 million and a workforce of 85 employees, it is classified as a larger-than-usual small business. The company has received awards in the past for its high-spirited entrepreneurial outlook, and it also belongs to several professional organizations in the industry, most notable among these being the National Association of Elevator Contractors.