BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It’s not just a place to stay. Ronald McDonald House Charities started back in 1972 thanks to Fred and Francis Hill, and their daughter Kim. These homes, now scattered across the nation, offer comfort to families during their toughest times.
Bakersfield’s Ronald McDonald House is one of the smallest homes in the nation, but thanks to community support, it’s served thousands of families.
The home provides a home away from home thanks to the volunteers who serve families in need. Volunteers like Diana Mestmaker. Mestmaker and her husband first began volunteering with the house when it opened in 2009.
“We had yorkies that were certified therapy dogs and we stopped by the Ronald McDonald House because there were always little kids and families there and it just went hand in hand," she said.
Mestmaker said her time at the house only increased her desire to help the families. She and her husband began bringing meals for the families at the house and over the years they’ve seen the community come out time and time again to help.
“We really committed to a relationship with the house, it was a fun time and our love grew," she said.
When COVID-19 hit though, fundraising and donations declined. Mestmaker and the rest of the Leadership Committee had to look for ways to meet the needs of families.
That’s what brought about the Inaugural Galactic Gala last year, an evening of fundraising that brought in over $140,000 for the Bakersfield house.
“The community support comes in with the donations, with the fundraisers. because that supports the house, that keeps our doors open," Mestmaker said.
This year’s gala is shaping up to be even bigger and will continue to honor local volunteers, including this year’s Spirit of Giving recipient, Beverly Camp, who passed away earlier this year from breast cancer.
You can join the Ronald McDonald House of Bakersfield on Thursday for their second annual Galactic Gala. Tickets can be purchased online here.