Kathie Ashton

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Kathie Ashton, who founded and served the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mahoning Valley & Western PA, retired from the Board of Trustees in October 2013.  Herb Washington, Board Chair, presents Kathie with a gift to commemorate her years of service to children in the Mahoning Valley.

In 1980, child and family advocates at Tod Children’s Hospital responded to parental and staff concern for better home-like facilities during a child’s hospital stay. Kathleen Ashton, M.Ed., CCLS, NCBF, PC, compiled statistical data to support the proposal to hospital administration, sought community support, and funding.  The Tod Parent Support Group gave structure to daily operation and policies. The proposal was accepted by Hospital Administration and the work began.

A lovely Victorian brick home on Goleta Avenue, owned by Tod Children’s Hospital, was selected as the Tod Parent House in 1981.  The house was staffed by the Junior League of Youngstown, Tod Squad Committee and community volunteers for many years beginning September 18, 1983.

On September 16, 1986, the Tod Parent House officially became the Ronald McDonald House.  A Board of Directors was elected with representation from McDonalds, Tod Children’s Hospital, community leaders, and parents to oversee operations and finances. 

In the summer of 2007, financial woes in healthcare forced the closing of Tod Children’s Hospital, which had served community children since 1972.  Shortly thereafter the Ronald McDonald House sadly closed its doors. The RMHC Board remained active, awaiting a community decision regarding the future of healthcare for children in the Mahoning Valley.  Thankfully, Akron Children’s Hospital, who already had a presence in the Mahoning Valley, expanded its commitment to the Valley by acquiring the Beeghly Medical Park on Market Street in Boardman. The hospital that would open on the site would become the Valley’s only pediatric hospital.

At the Board’s March 2008 meeting, it granted $300,000 to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley to construct the McFamily Respite Center inside their new hospital along with funds for a laundry room and a substantial pantry supply fund to meet the needs of families. The McFamily Respite center opened its doors on April 3, 2009, providing a place of peace and relaxation for families who had children needing hospitalized care.

Since its inception, Kathie Ashton was instrumental in the conceptualization, implementation and continuation of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mahoning Valley & Western PA. Her foresight and determination will be missed.

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