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INDIANAPOLIS — The Ronald McDonald House of Central Indiana is now accepting new families after having to reduce their capacity during the pandemic. 

At one point they were down to just 15 percent capacity but are now able to fill half of the house. 

Many families have come to depend on the houses as a resource when they have young loved ones staying at the hospital, like the Meade family. 

“That was devastating for our 16-year-old son to look up at you and ask if he was going to die,” said Jake Meade. 

In 2010, his son Evan Meade was diagnosed with a type of leukemia that left him very sick in the hospital. 

“Obviously the news came really fast, pretty traumatic, and we were trying to figure out how to basically live as a family while Evan was in a coma,” said his mother Patty Meade. 

His family lived in Franklin, about 45 minutes away but needed to be closer. 

“I said the day he was diagnosed, I said I wouldn’t go home without him,” Patty said. 

Eventually, they got connected with the Ronald McDonald House of Central Indiana and were able to stay there just minutes away. 

“That’s something the Ronald McDonald House gave me as the patient to always have my family by my side during the most difficult time in my life,” Evan said. 

His sister Claire Meade says it did a lot for their family. 

“I think the main thing the Ronald McDonald house gave our family was not only the proximity of being close to the hospital but the ability to be close as a family emotionally and mentally, spiritually,” Claire said. 

A majority of what they are able to provide is because of volunteers, like Cathy McCann, who’s been paying it forward at Ronald McDonald House for almost a decade. 

“We, you know, provide everything from meals for the families to extra towels to a clean room, to sometimes just someone to talk to. Someone to listen to what’s going on in their lives,” McCann said. 

For her, it’s about making the families comfortable while their loved ones are being cared for. 

“A lot of these families are going through a really difficult, challenging time, and I feel like I can help them,” said McCann. 

It was help that Patty Meade says makes a difference. 

“All these people paid it forward so families like ours could still stay at the hospital and eat and do things and use the services they provided. And that was huge,” Patty said. 

With COVID restrictions, the Central Indiana Ronald McDonald House can take up to 33 families with a hospital social work referral. 

Click here for more information on how you can get involved.