Partners in Care: McDonald’s Legacy of Community Support6.8.21
Most of us need the same basic elements to get ourselves motivated for a successful day – a solid night’s rest, a clear plan for the day and likely a great cup of coffee. For what was to become Arizona’s first Ronald McDonald House back in 1980, the plan for success was no different – a solid foundation of community supporters, a clear vision for how family-centered care could fundamentally change pediatric health care and, as for that cup of coffee? We had McDonald’s, of course!
A few of today’s local McDonald’s owner-operators were a part of that original group of founders, including Herb Cowgill. Herb remembers the “eclectic group of community volunteers with experience in construction, finance, real estate, management, insurance, small business and more. Everyone had a real heart for this work, but there was no roadmap. It was all new.”
According to Herb and fellow McDonald’s owner, Michael Osborne (who was a general manager in his 20s at the time), one of the main issues that concerned the group was fundraising. While the Ray Kroc Foundation provided a seed grant, the ongoing support of the mortgage, staff salaries and the upkeep of the House was daunting.
McDonald’s needed to help with both raising funds and letting people know that the House would need community support. The local owners responded with personal gifts and in-store fundraising promotions featuring Shamrock Shakes and customer donations.
Over the years, the connections between McDonald’s, the citizens of Tucson and Ronald McDonald House Charities have grown deeper. As Herb likes to say, “We feel a very strong attachment, responsibility and loyalty to the Ronald McDonald House. There is a sense of ownership that is not just ours but the community ’s.”
In fact, one of our newest connections is first-time board member Justin Osborne. That’s right…Osborne. Justin is Michael’s son who has been working with his dad since age 14. (But he adds that he was already cleaning out the ball pits the kids played in since he was 8.) “I was fortunate to be able to work with my dad. I remember visiting the Ronald McDonald House to cook for the families. It was exciting and fulfilling. I have been waiting for the privilege to serve on the RMHC Board for a long time and can’t wait to get more involved.”
Today, McDonald’s local representatives still assist with fundraising for RMHC (accounting for $150,000 per year, or about 8-15% of our annual operating budget – no small feat!). They serve on our board of directors and take part in our events. They also supply the Ronald McDonald Family Room with coffee for the patient families and the nurses and doctors – because everyone needs a great start to their day.
“I was fortunate to be able to work with my dad. I remember visiting the Ronald McDonald House to cook for the families. It was exciting and fulfilling. I have been waiting for the privilege to serve on the RMHC Board for a long time and can’t wait to get more involved.” – Justin Osborne