Written by Edwin Hickman
“Hope Has a New Home” is the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) South Florida Chapter capital campaign to raise $25 million to develop a new 63,000 square foot building, on land owned by Miami-Dade County on Jackson Memorial Hospital’s campus, to support more critically ill children and their families who need to stay near a hospital for treatment.
From left: RMHC South Florida Executive Director Soraya Rivera-Moya and Professor Suzanne Hollander
Soraya Rivera-Moya, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House for over 20 years, leads the campaign for the state-of-the-art facility that will have 54 rooms and is located less than 100 steps from Holtz Children’s Hospital. Rivera-Moya explains “$3 Million is needed to put a shovel in the ground, to start construction.”
On February 9th, 2023, Professor Suzanne Hollander, a member of the Ronald McDonald House Capital Campaign Committee, led a delegation from Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) on a property tour and fundraising event for the campaign. Women real estate professionals, including bankers and construction executives, toured the current building and construction site, sponsored a dinner for and shared one on-one conversations with the families and children. Hollander is a real estate law professor at FIU and Program Director of Professional Development of its Office to Advance Women, Equity, and Diversity (AWED).
Delegation from CREW Miami led by Suzanne Hollander at the future location of the Ronald McDonald House on the Jackson Memorial Hospital Campus
Hollander and Moya explain the unique public-private financing structure of the new project: “Jackson Memorial is a public hospital, and the location for the new building is leased to RMHC by Miami-Dade County for the mere cost of $1 per year for a duration of fifty years. The $25 million will be raised through local fundraising initiatives and new market tax credit funds, which are forgivable loans granted by the federal government.”
Hollander served as the Director of Real Estate and Asset Management for the City of Miami in 2022, administering government owned properties. She knows government owned properties can be utilized to carry out important purposes such as this. Hollander explains that “the Miami Ronald McDonald House Project is an innovative and creative use of land in a way we don’t often see in Miami, it’s a case study in how to use government owned land in a public private partnership for a charitable purpose that makes a positive impact in people’s lives. This lesson can be applied globally.”
Hollander points out that “in Miami, a city with a booming real estate market full of luxury condos and hotels, the Ronald McDonald House development project really stands as unique three reasons, it is (1) a multi-million-dollar woman led development project; (2) for a charitable purpose to help families in need with sick children and (3) being built on government owned land.”
During the visit the women met a twelve-year-old boy named Jesus. Jesus’ mother shared that February 14th would be an important day for Jesus. When asked why, she answered “Because Jesus will finally have a kidney transplant, a kidney donated by his brother on that day.” Before the family connected with the Ronald McDonald House, the mother explained that they did not have funds to afford the kidney transplant or a place to recover.
Jesus’ transplant went well and he is recovering with his family at the house. Rivera-Moya explained that 40% of children staying at the house are awaiting transplants, 30% have cancer and the rest are premature or NICU patients.
Riviera-Moya is pleased to continue to operate the house during the construction process – this is because the current Ronald McDonald Building will remain open and operating during the construction process, anticipated to take eighteen to twenty-four months after groundbreaking.
RMHC is a global 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity dedicated to supporting families of hospitalized children. It provides families temporary housing and food to be enable them to stay together with their children who are receiving medical treatment for serious conditions.
The current Miami Ronald McDonald House Building, built in 1982, celebrated its 40th birthday last year. This facility has helped more than 32,000 families in Florida, across the nation, and internationally. It is structured similar to a hotel; the existing building’s capacity is limited to thirty-one rooms and there is a wait list of families with critically ill children who need to stay there.
The funds raised from this event served as contribution to RMHC’s Adopt-A-Meal Program, providing food for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
The Ronald McDonald House’s new project is relying on donations. Rivera-Moya, the Board of Directors and the Campaign Committee members such as Hollander, are working with the community to generate more engagement and introduce RMHC to new donors.
From left: Suzanne Hollander and Soraya Rivera-Moya
The project is also an example of a partnership between public and private actors. “Hope Has A New Home” Campaign is currently halfway to achieving its goal and 80% of the funds are needed in order to begin construction.
If you would like to be involved or find more information on the Ronald McDonald’s House Hope Has a New Home Campaign, please click here.