Northland Children’s Services House from 1980

Our Roots: 1979-1990

Four Rochester, Minnesota area families united together around a common vision: to provide a home-away-from-home for families with seriously ill children. Today, the Ronald McDonald House® of Rochester, Minnesota carries out their dream, serving an ever-increasing number of families in need of comfort, care and hope.

These families reached out to doctors, nurses, social workers, business leaders and community members with a goal of securing a home for families with ill children, a home where children, siblings and parents could support one another as they shared similar medical scenarios – as well as a home where they could share the responsibility and costs, of day-to-day living.

In 1980, they realized their goal with the formation of Northland Children’s Services, a nonprofit organization established to operate a 12-bedroom home for families with seriously ill children.

The House, located at 613 Second St. SW, operated for 10 years as Northland House. Then, due to the efforts of a strong core of volunteers as well as the support of then McDonald’s owner/operator Phil Henoch, the Northland House was invited to become a licensed Ronald McDonald House® in 1990.

The affiliation with Ronald McDonald House® gave children and their families a common “face” to look for, a smiling clown after whom the home is named. It also provided higher visibility and recognition in our own community, and enhanced our ability to raise much-needed funds to support daily operations.

The Ronald McDonald House® of Rochester, Minnesota operated for another five years at its original site on Second Street. In the meantime, an active board was pursing expansion opportunities and set its site on a new, accessible home, that would serve even more children and families each year.

Ronald McDonald House of Rochester Front Entrance

New Facility & Expansion  1995 – 2019

In 1995, we moved to our present location at 850 Second St. SW. The Ronald McDonald House® of Rochester, Minnesota became a 24-guestroom home, complete with living areas, kitchen, laundry, playrooms and a game room for children to enjoy. In the new facility, each room was accommodated with a private bathroom (a great improvement from the previous House). The board of trustees, volunteers and community rallied to build and support this facility raising $2.2 million for construction costs.

An organized volunteer program of HouseWarmers was developed to help support day-to-day activity at the House. HouseWarmers greet visitors to the House, they answer calls, assist with light housekeeping and help check new families into the House. More than 300 volunteers serve as HouseWarmers throughout the course of the year in various capacities.

The next several years saw increasing need for our mission and, in 2004, we opened 18 additional rooms, expanding this home to 42 total guest rooms. Six of the rooms are specially designed as long-term guest rooms, providing expanded space for those families who must stay months for prolonged medical care.

2019 Expansion

The need to serve more families is great and growing in Rochester. Proton beam therapy, regenerative medicine, individualized medicine and science of health care delivery continue to drive the need for our services. The current House simply does not have the capacity to serve present or future needs of Mayo Clinic patient families. In 2017, 1,079 families were unable to stay with us because when they called, we had no rooms available. In the past four years, the Ronald McDonald House® of Rochester has turned away more than 4,000 families who needed our services.

To address this need, the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester opened an expansion of the current facility along Second St. SW. The House celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, May 16, 2019. The expansion increases the number of guest rooms from 42 to 70 and adds much-needed community spaces, including indoor and outdoor play areas for children.

Click here to learn more about the expansion project.

Present Day

Today, we strive to serve an ever-increasing number of families in need of support.

In 2019, 425 families from across the United States and the world stayed at the Ronald McDonald House® of Rochester, Minnesota, while hundreds more received other support and services from the House.

The Ronald McDonald House of Rochester, Minnesota, is the largest Ronald McDonald House in the state of Minnesota, the 13th largest in the United States, and the 18th largest in the world (based on number of guest rooms).

The House works hard to continue the tradition of fiscal responsibility that early board members established.

Priorities include:

  • Well maintained, safe, comfortable home for families
  • Accountable and efficient management of our resources
  • Rewarding opportunities for volunteers and staff
  • Commitment to responsible philanthropy