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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ronald McDonald House Charities hits a record-number 49 families living on Spokane campuses

Devin Rogers and wife Joleigh Foster are living with their 20-month-old son Devin Jr. at the Ronald McDonald House in Spokane while their youngest son, Raider lives in a neonatal intensive care unit nearby and waits for a heart surgery. Raider is six weeks old and is medically fragile until he is strong enough for surgery. The recently expande Ronald McDonald House can hold more than 50 families and recently neared capacity with 49 families there are one time in early July.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

Devin Rogers and Joleigh Foster had nowhere to stay in Spokane when doctors said their second child had a congenital heart condition and would require several months in a neonatal intensive care unit after delivery.

The couple recently moved from Tacoma to his dad’s home in LaCrosse, Washington, along with their toddler Devin Jr., now 20 months. Soon after, they saw a doctor for Foster’s pregnancy and learned of the heart issues. They were 90 miles from Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital’s NICU.

“To be completely frank, I was terrified, because we live 90 miles away from here,” Rogers said. “I’m right now unable to work because I’m always at the hospital. My wife and I called every motel around here and it was anywhere from $115 to $140 a night, and that was like the bottom-barrel motels.

“I can’t afford that.”

At Sacred Heart, they soon heard that the nearby Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Spokane campus had an open room and moved there. Their son, Raider, was born June 21 with two holes in his heart and a blockage. Rogers said it has been a blessing to stay so close by the NICU. The parents trade off shifts, so one can stay with Devin Jr., while the other visits to hold and care for Raider at Sacred Heart.

“He’s going to have surgery at about 3 months old, so right now it’s management, like getting him off the oxygen,” said Rogers, who works in construction. “He went in right from birth into the NICU at Sacred Heart.”

The couple is part of a milestone for the area’s Ronald McDonald House Charities, which housed 49 families in Spokane – the highest number in its 35 years – during Fourth of July weekend between its new facility and an older site across the street.

Construction of the Spokane “North House” facility wrapped up March 2020, with an aim of alleviating an average wait list of 15 families for the existing Fifth Street location. But then COVID-19 hit, which placed a hold on new arrivals.

Since April 2022, as more families felt comfortable to return, the facility has hosted a steady increase.

“The July Fourth weekend, we saw a new, first-ever high of 49 families,” said Phil Harrison, executive director of the Inland Northwest Ronald McDonald House program. “Between the Spokane campuses, we have 56 total rooms, so we had 34 families at the North House and 15 at the South House.

That did not include the Coeur d’Alene facility, which Harrison said was full with six families.

Rogers and Foster heard back within three hours after a background check that they could move in, Foster said.

“We were able to move in the next day, because I was discharged 48 hours after my C-section,” Foster said. “It comes around full circle, too, because when I was a kid my mom used to buy the Ronald McDonald House Charities’ clothes from Walmart. I grew up wearing those.

“Now as an adult, I’m being supported by the same charity we supported by buying their clothes.”

It’s a relief to be so close to their baby, Rogers added.

“We alternate,” Rogers said. “So one of us stays here with him (Devin Jr.), because they won’t let him in the hospital, so I normally go in morning; she goes mid-afternoon. I follow up with a final visit at night.”

“It’s meant everything to us, coming from I’ve never had help like this before,” Rogers continued. “At this place, they go out of their way here, and they have toys out for the kids. Every need is met – hygiene products, clothes. When first came here, we didn’t know we’d be here, so me and her, we had about two pairs of clothes. My son didn’t have much, and they brought us clothes donated from other resources.

“It’s 100% targeted to where you don’t have to worry. They take care of the life stuff and let you focus on your child.”