Tour host Sandy McDowell

Tour host Sandy McDowell

A place of comfort, support for Central Alberta families

Sean and Alana Brooks know better than most how much the new Ronald McDonald House will mean to those who find comfort there.



Sean and Alana Brooks know better than most how much the new Ronald McDonald House will mean to those who find comfort there.

The Red Deer couple lived in Edmonton’s Ronald McDonald House for 10 weeks when their twin son and daughter were born prematurely.

Alana said she’s very grateful for all that the house offered at a time when the couple anxiously waited for the day when their tiny newborns, born at 28 weeks, could leave intensive care. Now seven months old, the twins are doing well.

“It’s one less thing to worry about when you have so much going on,” said Alana, as she toured the $12-million home that opened its doors to the public for a sneak preview on Saturday.

“It was quite a big ordeal,” said Sean of their time in Edmonton.

“It took a lot of the stress out of it.”

Besides having a place to eat and sleep at a fraction of the cost of hotels and restaurants, the house allowed the couple to meet and share experiences with others who were in similar situations.

Many of the parents staying at the Edmonton house also had premature babies and the talking helped.

“We were able to stay in contact with a couple of other families,” he said.

Only a few finishing touches remain on the three-storey house backing onto Gaetz Avenue near the hospital. The 27,000-square-foot facility designed by local architect John Hull has 11 suites for families from outside the city who have critically ill babies, sick children or are facing high-risk pregnancies. The facility can also be used by city residents or from communities nearby who aren’t spending the night but who just want to stop in and make lunch, have a shower or take a break

The first families are expected to arrive in weeks and it is expected 400 families a year will use the affordable accommodations available. The house is available free of charge or for a small donation depending on each family’s circumstances.

“It’s very beautiful,” said Georgina O’Coin, who just finished touring the facility. “There’s lots of light.

“There’s lots of places for kids.”

O’Coin said it will be a good addition to the community. “It’ll improve a lot of people’s lives.”

Bea Mearns was volunteering on Saturday and will be on the front desk when the facility opens.

“I think it’s really awesome,” she said. “I just think it’s a wonderful way to give back to the community and to families that really need a place of comfort.”

Mayor Morris Flewwelling also came away impressed with the level of detail and finishing in the building, which offers scenic views of Rotary Park.

“I’m amazed at the interior volume of the place,” said Flewwelling.

He hopes that communities outside Red Deer, whose residents will benefit from the house, will embrace it and help provide the funding needed to cover the annual $1.2 million operating cost.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Jayden Grubbe is one of three Rebels on the NHL Central Scouting players to watch list for the 2021 NHL Draft. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels seek consistency ahead of matchup with Hitmen

The Red Deer Rebels had to deal with a pang of regret… Continue reading

Quinn Mason died from an opioid overdose at the age of 23 in June 2020. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta mother whose son died from overdose advocates for ‘change’

It’s been about nine months since her son died from an overdose,… Continue reading

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday that the province was ready to move forward with Phase 2A and B in the coming weeks. (Photo by Paul Taillon/Office of the Premier)
Majority of Albertans to receive first shot before June 30: Shandro

Shandro says all Albertans should be offered the COVID-19 vaccine by June 30

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Alberta’s Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer spoke on Thursday by webinar to Red Deer Chamber of Commerce members. (Screenshot by Advocate staff).
Alberta’s economic diversification is already underway, says Jobs Minister

From the geothermal to the TV industry, new jobs will be created, said Doug Schweitzer

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Quebec Premier François Legault chairs a virtual news conference Thursday, March 4, 2021 in Montreal. The premiers from the left are: John Horgan, B.C.; Jason Kenney, Alberta; Scott Moe, Saskatchewan; Legault, Quebec; Brian Pallister, Manitoba; Doug Ford, Ontario; and Blaine Higgs, New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

Premiers reiterate demand for $28-billion increase in health transfers from Ottawa

The Edmonton Law Courts building is shown on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. An Alberta pastor accused of holding Sunday services that violated COVID-19 rules is appealing his bail conditions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Jailed Alberta pastor should be able to lead services until his trial: lawyer

Jailed Alberta pastor should be able to lead services until his trial: lawyer

Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in Olympic Stadium in Montreal on March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Premiers blame Ottawa for delayed COVID-19 shots; Ontario pharmacies to offer jabs

Premiers blame Ottawa for delayed COVID-19 shots; Ontario pharmacies to offer jabs

Actors, clockwise from left, Luke Bilyk, Aislinn Paul, Alex Steeler, Melinda Shankar, Annie Clark, Jordan Todosey, Jahmil French and Munro Chambers from "Degrassi: The Next Generation," are shown at a screening event, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, N.J. Friends of French say he was a gifted 'true artist' who 'wanted to be great'THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/StarPix, Dave Allocca
Friends of Jahmil French say he was a gifted ‘true artist’ who ‘wanted to be great’

Friends of Jahmil French say he was a gifted ‘true artist’ who ‘wanted to be great’

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, rioters storm the Capitol, in Washington. At least 10 Ohioans have been charged in connection with the deadly insurrection at the U.S Capitol after being identified through social media and surveillance footage to the FBI. The group includes people linked to the Oath Keepers militia group who have been indicted on charges that they planned and coordinated with one another in the attack. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Capitol Police chief appeals for National Guard to stay

Capitol Police chief appeals for National Guard to stay

People gather on high ground and check for any sign of a tsunami near Whangarei, New Zealand, Friday, March 5, 2021. A powerful magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck in the ocean off the coast of New Zealand prompting thousands of people to evacuate and triggering tsunami warnings across the South Pacific. (Karena Cooper/New Zealand Herald via AP)
Powerful quake hits off New Zealand, prompting evacuations

Powerful quake hits off New Zealand, prompting evacuations

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 file photo, students discard food at the end of their lunch period as part of a lunch waste composting program at an elementary school in Connecticut. A United Nations report released on Thursday, March 4, 2021 estimates 17% of the food produced globally each year is wasted. That amounts to 931 million tons of food, or about double what researchers believed was being wasted a decade ago. And most of the waste — or 61% — happens in households, while food service accounts for 26% and retailers account for 13%. (Dave Zajac/Record-Journal via AP)
7% of food production globally wasted, UN report estimates

7% of food production globally wasted, UN report estimates

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wedneday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Efficacy figures of COVID-19 vaccines don’t tell the whole story: experts

Efficacy figures of COVID-19 vaccines don’t tell the whole story: experts

Most Read