Syracuse's Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for hundreds of families of seriously ill children every year. Three decades after the city's original facility opened its doors, the group cuts the ribbon on a new chapter. Our Sarah Blazonis takes us inside its new facility.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Sandra Tillinghast first came to the Ronald McDonald House of CNY in 2008 during a stressful, and scary, time. Her daughter, Victoria, was suffering from a condition that closed off the esophagus. She needed surgery and her parents needed a place to stay.
"We live in Ithaca, so it's an hour and a half. It'd be a financial burden, gas wise," said Tillinghast.
Now four-and-a-half, Victoria helped cut the ribbon on the Ronald McDonald House's new location. The new building is 100 percent handicap accessible. It features a family-centered kitchen, living rooms and Tillinghast's favorite part, 25 guest rooms .
"Which is almost double the capacity of where we were, because there's a waiting list. Sometimes there is and you can't always get in," said Tillinghast.
Fundraising for the $6 million project began six years ago. Officials thanked donors who chipped in from places like Utica and Binghamton to make the new center possible.
"They were patient and remained committed to the success of this project throughout difficult delays and very challenging economic times. We are standing here today because of those volunteers, and we are so thankful for their dedication," said Board of Directors President Chris Geiger.
For Sandra Tillinghast, the event reminded her of the comfort Ronald McDonald House gave her family in a time of need.
"When people say this is a home away from home, it is very true. It is not just a meal and a bed, it is a place of people who really care, people who really support you," she said.
And the strength it can offer countless families to come.
The public is invited to check out the new facility. Tours will be offered at the 1100 East Genesee Street location on Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m.