History of Our House

The initial Ronald McDonald House of Dallas was the project of Children’s Oncology Services of Texas, Inc., a non-profit Texas corporation comprised of parents, doctors, administrators, and Dallas/Ft. Worth McDonald’s Owner Operators and headed by Dr. Jo Ann Cornet of the Hematology-Oncology Division of the Children’s Medical Center.

Located on land donated by St. Paul Medical Center through the generosity of the Daughters of St. Vincent de Paul, RMHD opened its doors in 1981 it was the second Ronald McDonald House in the United States to open debt free.  This was in large part due to the philanthropic endeavors of Peggy S. Hill, who as chair of the 1980 Crystal Charity Ball named RMHD the sole beneficiary, and also Sandra Estess, chairman of the first capital campaign. Located on land donated by St. Paul Medical Center through the generosity of the Daughters of St. Vincent de Paul, the RMHD opened with the capacity to serve 10 families.

The idea of a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill or injured children was embraced by the Dallas community from the initial concept. Today RMHD continues to be the only agency in Dallas that provides this vital service and remains debt-free to this day, due in large part to the Dallas community.

Over the last 30 years the need for additional space has grown and RMHD has expanded to its current capacity of 58 guest rooms and has served over 28,000 families. Our most recent addition has been the opening of a Day Respite Room here at the House and serves the local families when they have space between appointments and need a place to get away from the hospital environment.

Early in our history, we identified a need not only to provide shelter but also to offer meals to families who often neglect their own needs in order to concentrate on the care of their ill child. What began as an occasional dinner provided by a concerned individual or group has grown into a wonderful on-going relationship with organizations such as the Junior League of Dallas, Southwest Airlines, the Anatole Hotel, Rotary clubs, and various other corporations and civic, youth, or faith organizations who plan, purchase, prepare and serve our families three meals daily at no charge to them. Today we currently work with over 400 cooking groups throughout the year.

The strong relationship between the Ronald McDonald House and the Dallas community has helped us develop a strong corps of volunteers, many who have been here more than 10 years and four who have been with us for more than 20 years. Currently we utilize more than 120 weekly operations volunteers who work at the front desk, assist in the kitchen and support our families. We have a Teen Board comprised of over 60 local area high school students who volunteer regularly at the House and directly impact our families by throwing holiday parties and organizing family activities. And we have a Young Friends auxilliary group made up of over 500 young professionals who live in Dallas and serve as advocates for RMHD as well as raise a large portion of the funds needed to operate the House.

Since the initial House was built, RMHD has gone through 3 major expansions and the operations budget has greatly increased, our families are asked to contribute only $15 toward their nightly stay, an increase of only $5 since the opening of the first House. And no one is ever turned away because of an inability to pay.

Because of the generosity of the Dallas community the RMHD is a stable and secure Beacon of Hope and help to families and with their help we plan to continue to be there for the families who need us.