What We Do

Providing stability and resources for families everywhere

Helping a sick child fight their illness takes a big enough emotional toll on a family. Adding a financial strain can make it all almost too much to bear. RMHC can help address those problems, whether they involve housing that’s near a hospitalized child, the expense of staying together in another city, or even getting basic medical and dental care in a vulnerable community.

Since 1974, RMHC has helped address these needs every day, with 305,000 volunteers and staff members, our connections with medical communities around the world, partnerships with respected companies and our generous donors. We couldn’t do it without all of you.


  • Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Iowa, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.
  • We provide a home-away-from-home for families who have critically-ill children in area hospitals.
  • Our mission is: Enriching the Quality of Life for Children and Their Families.
  • The Des Moines Ronald McDonald House opened its doors August 29, 1981.
  • In 2011, we opened the first Ronald McDonald Family Room in Iowa at Mercy Medical Center.
  • The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974 as the result of the perseverance and dedication of Fred Hill, then a Philadelphia Eagles football player. After his daughter Kim was treated for leukemia at the Children’s Hospital, Hill became determined to help other families faced with the question of where to stay when their children are in the hospital. Hill enlisted the help of his teammates and then General Manager, Jim Murray, as well as the local McDonald’s restaurant franchisees to raise funds and purchase the first House.
  • The Des Moines House was the 26th House in the RMHC system.
  • We can accommodate up to 12 families at a time.
  • In 2010, we went through a major renovation adding private bathrooms to all the bedrooms at the Ronald McDonald House
  • The only requirement to stay at the Ronald McDonald House is that you live outside of Polk county and have a child 21 years old or younger being treated at an area hospital.
  • We primarily serve families whose children are premature, have respiratory problems, cystic fibrosis and cancer.
  • We ask families to contribute $10 a night for their stay. Many families cannot afford this so we waive the fee and ask them to do a chore instead. We never turn a family away for their inability to pay.
  • Families can stay as long as their need exists, from one night to one year; the average length of stay in 2011 was 8 nights.
  • In 2011, we provided a home-away-from-home for over 400 families from 71 Iowa counties and 10 different states.
  • Today, there are over 310 Ronald McDonald Houses worldwide in over 30 countries with 175 of those in the U.S. and over 175 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms worldwide in 19 countries with 91 of those in the U.S.

The Plants Family - The Plants Family

Cory and Lacey Plants share the story of their time spent at the Des Moines Ronald McDonald House in 2009 and most recently at the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Mercy Medical Center.

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Watching Milestones - Jaclyn & Brandon Hoover

I was admitted to the hospital at 25 weeks, being diagnosed with Preeclampsia and HELLP Syndrome. After being on bed rest for 7.5 weeks, my placenta was failing and she was not getting enough nutrients through the umbilical cord. The doctors decided to induce me and Sadie was born 7.5 weeks early weighing 3.6 pounds […]

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Reinders kids

The Reinders - Jason, Laura, Carter and Zoey Reinders

We wanted to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being our “home away from home” for such a long time! Our stay at the House from the end of September 2013 to nearly the end of January 2014 was not how we necessarily intended to spend four months’ time, to say the least. But we were blown away by the kindness and acceptance we were shown from the first phone call we made to the House to find a place to stay. Over the course of the four months we were residents at the House, we were treated with the utmost respect by everyone associated with the House.

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Tyler Cross and Lynn Bohn

Change the World - Joan & Terry Cross

“For my husband and I, the RMH is a second home. We have a place to eat supper, a place for a shower, it’s the simple things you miss like being able to put your clothes in a dresser and not live out of a suitcase. We thank all of you for changing our life.”

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family with Ronald

Third Time’s A Charm - Melissa & Brennon Zellmer

“I couldn’t believe it, for once in my life, I was not handing my baby to a funeral director. I was taking my baby home. Brennon and I rode home, barely talking, looking at our baby and thanking God for this wonderful moment.”

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Emmett Lahr

#EMMETTSTRONG - Cora & Scott Lahr

“Living a couple hours away from the hospital, it is so convenient to stay right across the street. We could not go through this without the RMH. The staff, volunteers, and comforts of home are truly amazing. Ronald McDonald House has become a big part of our life and someplace we will continue to use for some time.”

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Twin Babies

Comfort and Care - Amy & Nate Nostrom

Words cannot express how grateful we are for the Ronald McDonald House in Des Moines. Our twins were born at 25 weeks 2 days prematurely, so that meant for a long haul for all of us. Being we live two hours north of Des Moines, the commute was going to be very costly and time […]

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Ruthanne Oakwell

Home-Away-From-Home - Scott & Kennedy Oakwell

“Without the Des Moines Ronald McDonald House, we would not have been able to visit our own daughter everyday in the hospital.”

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David Fraser

Surrounded by Love - Cassie Fraser

In May 2013 I found out via ultrasound that our baby boy had Spina Bifida. We were all shocked and clueless as to what that meant. I had known for weeks that there was something off, something different, maybe even wrong. Those feelings were the reason I had chosen to get the blood work done […]

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Mother and child

Holidays At The House - Jennifer Smith

“In that time, the House was a place to regroup after long rollercoaster days spent in the NICU. There was always a hot shower, a delicious meal, and a compassionate face waiting for us. Being so close to the hospital meant more time spent with our precious daughter. We were blown away by the love poured into the House by so many volunteers! We spent the entire holiday season at the house. It was such a life changing experience to see such an outpouring of gifts, literally, and also gifts of the heart.”

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mother and daughter

Mighty Mouse - Julie Adler

The NICU social worker from Mercy Hospital put Julie in contact with the staff at Ronald McDonald House. Julie had heard of RMH before, but had no idea what a blessing it would become for her family.

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Long Hair? Don’t Care! - Michelle Rivera

“We stay at the Ronald McDonald House…because we live too far to travel every day to the hospital. My mom and I just love everyone at Ronald’s House, especially Brenda, Florence, Jack, Lynn, even Al! They are awesome!”

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A Place to Call Home - Jennifer Sturges

My son Quentin James Sturges was born at Mercy Hospital in Des Moines on August 17, 2014 at 30 weeks and weighed 2lbs and 3 oz. He was in the NICU at Mercy Hospital for 8 weeks. Ronald McDonald House was a lifesaver in providing myself and my mother a place to call home for this lengthy stay. Quentin is now almost […]

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Eden Barnes

An Answer to Prayers - Collin and Danielle Barnes

Our Daughter, Eden, was born two weeks early, but her hemoglobin levels were very low and she weighed only 4 pounds. She was taken to Blank Children’s Hospital right away, and some wonderful doctors and nurses took care of her there for two weeks. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House during our last week […]

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Kenzie Clark

A Special Place - Lyndsay & Nick Clark

Kenzie was born at 30 weeks. She was due on June 8th and she was born on April 1st. We stayed in the hospital for 43 days. I stayed at the Ronald McDonald house for 2 weeks. I was very impressed by how helpful the staff was and how amazing that place really is. I didn’t realize how special it was until I had […]

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Our Miracle Baby - Julie Navratil

The Ronald McDonald House was a godsend! I had my son Eli 12 weeks early and I wound up staying at the House from February 13th until May 9th. It was my home for 3 months. While I was living there during the week, I went to the hospital for most of the day and […]

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A Piece of Home - Melissa Langkamp

Claire Olivia Langkamp has been a miracle from the start. After working with a fertility specialist, a two vessel umbilical cord diagnosis, countless ultrasounds, fetal stress tests, and a scary labor, she was born screaming and seemingly healthy. Doctors noticed her oxygen levels were dropping and transported us to Blank Children’s Hospital from Oskaloosa, IA. […]

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Rylee Swartzel

Big Heart, Big Spirit - Larry Swartzel

“She can’t talk but communicates in various ways. She winks. She sticks out her tongue. She smiles that smile. She moves her leg when watching soccer or hockey on television and someone scores.”

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Jacobi in NICU

Support and Care - Laura Merritt

Jacobi was born at 30 weeks weighing only 2 lbs even and 12 1/2 inches long. We were in the Mercy NICU for 87 days. Although I stayed at the Ronald McDonald House for only about three weeks of our NICU stay, it was a get away for me and my family when they could visit. […]

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family holding baby

Athena – Warrior Princess - McKensie & Ben Bess

“We really don’t know how sane we would be if it wasn’t for the sincere love of the staff here…I couldn’t hope for better hands to be in at the Ronald McDonald House. They are a very sincere group of people.”

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Love and Support…From Strangers - Chelsey Schaefer

“Thank you for being such a life saver during such a difficult time for our family. We were overwhelmed by the generosity and caring support we received during our four-month stay. The friendly staff and wonderful volunteers along with families, organizations and businesses who donated time and resources truly made it our home-away-from-home.”

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Kids with Ronald McDonald

Keeping Us Close - Quebin & Sunnie Jimenez

Quentin was born at 28 weeks. He weighed 3lbs 3oz. He spent 71 days in the NICU. I spent every morning/afternoon with him and my husband every evening. The last six days of our stay we were able to stay at the RMH. The timing of this was perfect. Our son was learning to eat […]

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Hoover Family

The Hoovers Family

On June 4, at 2 a.m., Jackie Hoover checked in to Mercy Medical Center. A few hours earlier, she was prepping for bed when she began bleeding severely. Jackie, who was 25 weeks pregnant, drove herself to Kossuth Regional Health Center in Algona. From there Jackie was transferred to Mercy, where she was diagnosed with […]

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The McAlexander & Ehlers Families - The McAlexander & Ehlers Families

Volunteer James Wilhelmi with Your Other Right Productions produced this video for us highlighting two of our families.

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