Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Virginia celebrates 40 years

Meet a Danville mom who says the group is life changing

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Virginia has provided families with a place to rest their heads at night for free while their little ones are in the hospital, including a mom from Danville who has been there since March.

“I was in a bad phase of my life where I thought that my life had stopped,” said mom Kawalpreet Kohli.

Kohli said she has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Virginia for 65 days after her daughter was born prematurely at Carilion.

“I go there every time. I talk to her. I hold her,” said Kohli.

Now, Kohli sees her daughter every day and that’s all thanks to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Virginia. This would have been difficult for Kohli to do since she lives about 2 hours away.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Virginia has been helping families for 40 years. It’s one of more than 300 Ronald McDonald Houses globally. Our chapter serves about 700 families annually. However, globally, the organization helps about a million people.

To stay here, families must live 25 miles or more from the house. They also have children who are pediatric patients younger than 21 years old. Social workers typically refer the families to the house.

Donor and Community Relations Coordinator Montana Kimrey said providing these services warms her heart.

“What they need most is mom and dad and being able to provide that and know that child is not going to be alone in the hospital, there are no words that can describe it,” said Kimrey.

The rooms at the Southwest Virginia branch cost a little more than $41,000 a year to house a family.

The group not only provides a place to sleep at night, but it also offers families meals, a place to wash their clothes, and there’s a play area in the basement for families who have little children.

The Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Virginia said the group plans on providing a hospitality cart for families in hospitals that will have snacks and other little things. They also plan on expanding its services to patients with cancer.

Kohli said something that helps the group stand out is its volunteers.

“Every time you just feel like my baby is not doing well but when you come here you talk to volunteers and they give you good support,” said Kohli.

Kohli said she also relies on the support of the other 16 families who are currently staying at the home. She said they have become friends.

“Every evening around 7:30-8:30, all of the families at dinner time chit chat with each other, talk to everybody,” said Kohli.

While the group receives funds from McDonald’s, it relies on donations.

“We’re responsible for fundraising and raising that entire budget,” said Kimrey.

To celebrate its fortieth anniversary, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Virginia is hosting a fundraiser on Friday at the Salem Memorial Ballpark at 5:30 p.m. There will be live music, fireworks and dinner.

For Kohli, she is just grateful for the services she’s received at the organization as she plans to take her baby daughter home in just four weeks.

“You feel better that you’re in a good condition and good place to stay. That makes you more happy,” said Kohli.

About the Author

Keshia Lynn is a Multimedia Journalist for WSLS. She was born and raised in Maryland and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Law and Society from American University and a Master’s degree in Mass Communication from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.

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