All You Need is a Big Heart

“Because of the Ronald McDonald House, I don’t have to face my son’s illness alone.”  ~Sheila, mom of a 16-year- old neurological patient

The Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem ensures that no family needs to worry about where to stay when their child is in the hospital, where they will get their meals, or if they’ll have to carry the burden alone.

Thirty-five years ago, Penny and Dick Latham felt a need to share the love and joy their son Alan had given them in his short, 3½-year life.  They wanted to celebrate Alan’s legacy by helping the many families they met in the pediatric cancer unit Bowman Gray/Baptist Hospital Medical Center (now Wake Forest Baptist Health).  Penny reflected, “If we could make their burden a little lighter, we would brighten the life of their child.”

Penny and Dick reached out to the greater Winston-Salem community to make their vision a reality!  An extensive grassroots effort raised the funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem, and thanks to the community’s support, the doors of the Ronald McDonald House of Winston-Salem opened on September 14th, 1984, providing a “home-away-from-home” for families with children receiving medical care in our community.

This year, our Ronald McDonald House celebrates its 35th Birthday!  We’ve served over 22,000 families (and counting!), and we’ve provided the comforts of home to them all.  Families like the Tipples, who traveled from Ohio to adopt their newborn son, never expecting he would require a month-long hospital stay; or Bianca’s family, who upon learning that a match had been found, rushed to Winston-Salem for a lifesaving kidney transplant, never pausing to wonder where they would eat or sleep in the days ahead; or the Morales family, who made frequent trips for their son, Juan’s, cancer treatments.  Our Ronald McDonald House was a beacon of comfort for those families, keeping them close to each other and to the care their children needed.

“I didn’t want to leave my son’s bedside.  But when I heard the Ronald McDonald House had a kitchen, I was convinced to stay! I could cook his favorite meals AND stick to his dietary restrictions.” remembers Rachel, mom of a six-year-old cancer patient

You can help us celebrate our 35th Birthday!  Join us at the Character Breakfast on October 26th, featuring breakfast, a parade of over 40 princesses, superheroes, and storybook characters, and time for photos and autographs.  Light luminaries in honor of RMHWS families this holiday season.  Gather a group and sign up to cook a meal or bake a sweet treat. More information is available at

We’ve grown exponentially over the past 35 years and have far exceeded the hopes and dreams of founders Penny and Dick Latham. The House now has 35 bedrooms; we have Family Rooms at both Brenner Children’s Hospital and Forsyth Medical Center; Hospitality Carts are rolled along the hallways at Forsyth’s antepartum area and Randolph Health’s maternity ward; and our Family Support Services program includes pet therapy, massage therapy, and Monday night Bingo.  The Winston-Salem and greater Triad community continues to play a vital role in making it all possible.  We look forward to the next 35 years of providing a “home-away-from-home.”



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