If you're under the impression that only parents with children in the hospital can stay at a Maine Ronald McDonald House, think again.

What is a Ronald McDonald House?

Before I get into details about who's eligible to stay at a Ronald McDonald House, let's talk a little about what they do there. Ronald McDonald Houses in Bangor and Portland offer comfort and shelter to families of sick children. Instead of staying in an impersonal hotel (and having to pay for it), parents and siblings can stay in the homey environment of a Ronald McDonald House. While they still have their own room, they also have access to a kitchen for midnight snacking, while also having volunteers there to cook delicious meals. There's a comradery and support system created by the environment of families experiencing similar challenges while living in the same place. I chatted with Bangor's House Manager Whitney Linscott recently about these very special facilities in Maine, including the Ronald McDonald rooms in Bangor's Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center and Portland's Maine Medical Center.

Who Can Stay There?

The two Ronald McDonald Houses, in Bangor and Portland, welcome parents and siblings of children receiving treatment at a local hospital. But they also welcome families of children who are in town for a medical appointment, who are receiving mental health care, or who are in residential care. Parents who are planning a stay in the Bangor or Portland areas and who think they may fall under these guidelines should talk to their child's doctor or someone on their care team about referring them to the appropriate Ronald McDonald House. One last thing: there's no cost for staying in a Ronald McDonald House, so it's one less thing to worry about when you should be concentrating on helping your child get well.

How Can I Help?

Find more information, including an Amazon wishlist of items they need to keep the facilities running on the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Maine website.

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