“CHEO saved our daughter… Ronald McDonald House saved our family.” A Grateful Parent

At Lagois Design-Build-Renovate, community is important to us. This is where we live, where our families and friends live. Our community is our children’s future. We believe we are each responsible for giving what we have to our community to make it better, to make a difference wherever we can.

We have a lot of fun raising money for others, but we’re deeply serious about it, too.

One of our favourite charities is Ronald McDonald House Charities Ottawa (RMHCO) for families with seriously ill children undergoing treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

Ronald McDonald House Charities Ottawa provides the families with a comfortable and safe place to stay, a home away from home, during deeply challenging and traumatic times. It is a lifesaver because the cost of rentals and hotels can equal thousands and thousands of dollars each month out of pocket. And, depending on the nature of the illness, many families unexpectedly have weeks, months, and sometimes years when they must be with their child in hospital.

Our involvement with RMHCO has evolved over the past 25 years, beginning in 1998, when Irene Lagois, a Grade Six school teacher and wife of Herb Lagois, had her class design playhouses as a fundraiser for the House. Using the young students’ designs, Herb and the company built them. They were then raffled off with all funds going to RMHC.

Next, we built and donated our time for a new playroom. Then for a year we partnered with the Association of Architectural Technologists (AATO) to hold a golf tournament to raise funds for the House.

Ever since then, with the exception of the COVID years, we have organized and run the tournament. We renamed it in memory of Chris Parish, our beloved Sales and General Manager, in 2021. Chris died of cancer that year.

We have also donated our time to RMHCO with a beautiful kitchen and also a garden and gazebo. Our trades and partners all donated, too, at different levels, from at-cost to no cost.

For almost 40 years, Ronald McDonald House has been an incredible force of kindness, safety and support in Ottawa and many other Canadian cities. It gives families a place to stay during what is one of the most difficult times in their lives.

This is how it works: families stay together at Ronald McDonald House, a short walk (167 steps) away, while their child receives care at CHEO. It is often a traumatic time in their lives. Rarely having time to pack and prepare, many families are immediately separated and sent into hospital life hours away from home.

In Ottawa, Ronald McDonald House, one of the original five built in Canada in 1984, serves families who live more than 80 km away. Many are from Cornwall, Pembroke, Timmins, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, and the Canadian North, including Nunavut.

The House currently has 14 bedrooms, a large communal kitchen and dining room; laundry facilities, a library and a TV room. It has a playroom, garden and gazebo. Volunteers create home-cooked meals, and donations to the Home for Dinner program help to supply more than 3,000 meals annually. There are movie nights, birthday and holiday celebrations, a beautiful outdoor serene space, and pet and music therapy visits. It is a place of peace and comfort just when families need it most.

Chief Executive Officer of RMHCO, Christine Hardy, says Ronald McDonald House has provided approximately 170,000 nights of comfort for families. The longest stay was a family from Nunavut, who needed to be there for 734 nights. This tremendous gift saved them more than two years of living expenses, projected at over $200,000. There are few families in Canada who could afford such a necessity on their own.

Christine says 12 families have stayed for more than a year, 36 families longer than 200 nights, and 107 families more than 100 nights.

Beyond the House itself, within CHEO, RMH operates two family rooms staffed by volunteers: one in Pediatric Intensive Care on floor 3, and another on the 5th floor.

The rooms offer the comforts of home within the hospital, with large, comfortable lounge space, snacks, coffee and tea, shower facilities, laundry services and four overnight sleep rooms. Most often these rooms are used by families who live in Ottawa. The family rooms are well and dearly used, with more than 28,000 visitors in one year alone.

RMHCO is always full, and there is always a growing wait list. To meet the current needs, 22 rooms must be added for a total of 36 bedrooms. Donations are needed for this expansion, and it is one of the ongoing reasons Lagois Design-Build-Renovate is so dedicated to fundraising.

During an average year, the House can accommodate about 500 family visits, but with the new build, that number will rise to about 1,300. New ground will break soon. It will alleviate the always-difficult waiting list for so many anxious families and shorten the eligibility distance. The carbon-neutral House will be Rick Hansen Foundation Certified, following the highest level of accessibility standards, and built to the LEED Gold standard.

With golf tournaments, pro bono work, and playhouse creations for raffle, Lagois has donated close to $250,000 to Ronald McDonald House Charities. We couldn’t have done it without our trades, suppliers, friends, families and homeowners, and we thank them all.

With your continued help, we will continue in the future.