Local organization provides housing for out-of-town families with children admitted to local hospitals

A local organization is providing out-of-town families with children admitted to local hospital a home away from home. 

The Ronald McDonald House in St. Petersburg provides free food and housing for these families. 

Amy Lopez and her partner Marissa Watson spend a lot of time at hospitals with their 18-year-old daughter Alyziah. Lopez said her daughter suffered an anoxic brain injury when she was nine years old.

"Since nine, we've been in and out of the hospitals," Marissa Watson 'Alyziah's bonus parent said. "We've been all over Orlando. We've been to Arnold Palmer, Nemours Children's Hospital, St Joe's, and now John Hopkins All Children's."

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They said they are so thankful for the Ronald McDonald House and their help in providing food and housing. 

"I don't think a lot of people can afford to stay in a hotel every single day," Lopez, Alyziah's mom, said. "I mean, your thinking if you figure it out, you're going to pay anywhere between 80 to $120 for just a regular, average hotel room." 

For the past four years, Ralph Contursi and his best friend Richard Crandall have been teaming up to feed families at the Ronald McDonald House. 

"That's nice to be able to provide something which is relatively simple, like a hot meal, and yet it makes people's lives so much easier when they're coming to and from the hospital with sick kids," Contursi explained. 

They're part of a group of volunteers that provide the free meals. Joe Citro, the director of development and marketing at all McDonald's Charities said volunteers are crucial to the work the Ronald McDonald House does daily for families. 

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"So, you know, for families are sitting around McDonald's, they're staying here because their child, unfortunately, is going through a really tough time," Citro said. 

For families, it's nice to stay at a place of comfort when there's so much uncertainty. 

"They have been super accommodating," said Lopez. "Have just always lended an ear for us, always helped us as far as being able to have a room to sleep in, a shower, laundry facilities, helping us financially with being able to eat. That's a big difference. A huge difference."  

The Ronald McDonald House Tampa Bay provides meal, accommodations and support to more than 2,000 families a year. 

They're is taking part in the SuperKids League campaign till May 6. It's an opportunity to celebrate families and the community that supports them. For more information, visit https://rmhctampabay.org.