Our History

History of Ronald McDonald Charities of Mahoning Valley and Western PA

1980.  Child and family advocates at Tod Children’s Hospital responded to parental and staff concerns 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. Dorothy Knight, LSW, rallied the Tod Parent Support Group to structure daily operations and policies. The proposal was accepted by Hospital Administration and the work began.

1981.   A lovely Victorian brick home on Goleta Avenue, owned by Tod Children’s Hospital, was selected.  The Tod Squad Committee, an affiliate of the Youngstown Hospital Association’s Woman’s Board and Tod family members became involved to raise funds and support for this project.  The Junior League of Youngstown pledged $9000 to the project and committed endless hours of volunteer work.  Various local businesses assumed responsibility for designing and furnishing rooms. AT&T donated free phone service for the families, and local companies supported the house with food and sundry donations.

September 18, 1983.  The home was dedicated as the Tod Parent House and staffed entirely by the Junior League, Tod Squad Committee and community volunteers for several years. 

1985.   Sam Covelli, the local Owner/Operator of several McDonald franchises, expressed his interest in the development of the Youngstown house.  The House was one of only two in the history of Ronald McDonald Houses to start with such a grass roots effort.  McDonald's donated $25,000 to the house and pledged thousands of dollars from the sale of Happy Meals, including coupons for free McDonald's meals to the families staying at the house.

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

1999.  Herb Washington, McDonald’s major franchise owner, was elected as the new RMHC President.  Major capital improvements were made to the House to meet the needs of the families. The house also opened its doors to children requiring outpatient procedures, especially hematology/oncology patients who required daily treatments.  Numerous grants were awarded to local non-profit agencies providing services to children through the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Summer, 2007.  Financial woes in healthcare forced the closing of Tod Children’s Hospital, which had served community children since 1972.

Without the patient volumes, the Ronald McDonald House sadly closed its doors.  Even though the Ronald McDonald House was no longer operational, 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 committed to the Mahoning Valley and expanded its care by purchasing the Beeghly Medical Campus buildings in Boardman.

March, 2008.  RMHC granted $300,000 to Akron Children’s Hospital/ Mahoning Valley to construct the McFamily Respite Center inside the new Children’s Hospital along with funds for a laundry room and a substantial pantry supply fund to meet the needs of families.

December 8, 2008.  Akron Children’s Hospital/Mahoning Valley officially opened in Boardman, Ohio.

April 3, 2008.  The ribbon cutting ceremony for the McFamily Respite Center was a gala event attended by local and state government officials, community, hospital, and McDonald’s leadership, families, and numerous representatives who made the original concept a reality.

December 29, 2010.  The RMHC Board began its annual Give-A-Coat Project, a coordinated effort with Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties human services agencies and Walmart to provide new winter coats to area youth.

September, 2011.  The first RMHC Coordinator was hired to further strengthen the collaborative efforts of the Board, RMHC Global, and the community.  Strategic planning and vision for the future reflect the commitment and dedication of Board members who weathered the changes and survived obstacles to keep the Charity in the Mahoning Valley.


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