Posted by Grant Paice on Sep 11, 2019
Ronald McDonald House
We were delighted to host Regan De Burgh as our guest speaker last week who gave us a detailed insight into the focus and operation of the local Ronald McDonald House (RMH) facility that we help support.
Regan previously worked with St John NZ followed by a management role with a large Australian retailer. After the quakes she decided to return to NZ and worked as the loyalty & marketing manager for Kathmandu plus ran a consultancy business. 
She came to realise that her true passion was the not for profit sector and is currently the Fundraising Advisor for the South Island operations of RMH. 
“Our local facility has 26 rooms and operates at 99.9% capacity” shared Regan which is a reflection of increasing need and how busy it has become.  It includes an outside park which is mostly used by family members while their child is in hospital.
Most families using the service come from the West Coast and Southland. When they are full the team accesses additional rooms at the local Y with these families using RMH facilities during the day.  As a result of these high levels of demand Regan is kept very busy seeking additional funding to support their sometimes hectic operation.
The most common referrals are for neonatal and high risk pregnancy cases.   “This is a reflection of many families having children later in their lives” shared Regan. They are also experiencing an increase in psychological issues.
“We are the only family focussed child centric facility in the South Island”, explained Regan, “and our goal is to keep families close so that all family members can be present as needed.”
In 2018, 1,208 families stayed for over 8,000 nights.  The average stay was 7 nights and the longest to date was 401 nights.  “We went through 6,204 litres of milk, 1,740 loaves of bread, and 4,620 toilet rolls which saves families $1,000 a week on average during their stay which is what it costs us to operate the facility” she explained.
It costs $140 a night to accommodate a family for a room and the team has to fundraise 100% of the operating costs.  They are assisted by a number of regular volunteers on some days and also rely heavily on community groups who contributed over $700,000 in 2018. 
NZ has one of the highest number of public charities and competition is high for donated funds.   “Unlike public perception we are not bankrolled by McDonalds” shared Regan. The team works very hard to source the funds it needs to operate successfully.
Many groups from a wide variety of organisations, including Papanui Rotary, help out on cook nights.  “This is really appreciated as you can’t price the value of a home cooked meal,” said Regan, “and the people, the food, and the conversation makes it feel like a 2nd home which is a real blessing.”
“We all learn a lot from the kids who are pretty much living in the moment” shared Regan. 
We thanked Regan for her insights into the operation of RMH and wished her and her team well for the great work this valuable facility provides to families.