December 27th, 2019
With this being our final installment of the Walk Down Watertown series, we thought it was a good idea to end at our beginning. As Jeff Steren shared in his interview, our House story began with a very important relationship between local McDonald’s owner and operators and a parent support group called Living One Day at a Time (LODAT).
LODAT was a 200+ member parental support group for people that had children with cancer. Denny Buchan was president of the group when he was approached by Jeff’s father Sol and Jim Pihos, McDonald’s Owner/Operators, with the proposition of starting a Milwaukee chapter of RMHC.
“In 1978, there were only seven Ronald McDonald Houses. You needed three things to start a chapter: the support of a McDonald’s Owner/Operator Co-Op, a parent support group and a children’s hospital medical partner.”
Denny and his wife Jean were all too familiar with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. They spent most of their time there with their daughter who was being treated for neuroblastoma. They both noticed that the hospital lacked any family-centered care.
“At the time they concentrated only on the patients. Treatment didn’t have anything to do with the families.”
Seeing this apparent need for a place of comfort for families on difficult medical journeys, Denny and Jean happily lent the full support of LODAT to make our RMHC Eastern Wisconsin a reality.
Denny shared he had no idea that the House would grow to become what it is today.
“Every time I come to the House or talk about it, I see the day we broke ground. To see how far we have come since then just blows me away. To see the support and devotion from the entire community and our volunteers is just unbelievable.”
When asked to reflect on his time with RMHC Eastern WI, Denny was quick to share a memory from the first winter at the House.
“I walked through the front doors that opened into the Great Room and saw a mother and child sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace, reading. That’s when I knew, this is definitely home.”
Thank you all for walking down Watertown with us as we celebrated our 35th anniversary. Here’s to 35 more!