WHEN life is at its worst for some people, a home away from home in the Central West has provided a refuge.
In the lead up to Wear Red Day on Thursday, families across the region have praised Ronald McDonald House Orange (RMHO) for being a safe haven when they needed it most.
The house is located just footsteps away from Orange Health Service and it offers a place for families to stay free of charge while their child is undergoing medical treatment.
The mother of a Cowra boy who required urgent specialist treatment for three weeks said staying at RMHO and being close to her son was a major contributing factor to his recovery.
The mother, who cannot be named for privacy reasons, said if RMHO had not been available the cost of a motel every night would have been prohibitive.
"I would have had to do the 200 kilometre round trip every day which would simply have added to the family pressure," she said.
"I have absolutely no doubt that my boy knowing I was close by and me being able to be called to the hospital to meet with medical staff aided his recovery."
The house is set up to provide a variety of areas for families to relax but it also ensures privacy for those who need it.
The mother of three said on weekends her whole family were able to be together at RMHO.
"It was also so lovely that at night my son was able to come over to the house and have a meal with me before I walked him back to the hospital," she said.
RMHO has 111 volunteers who help guests during their stay and the mother said they and the staff enhanced her experience.
"I think I burst into tears when I arrived knowing I had somewhere close and safe to stay," she said.
RMHO accepts families of children being treated in a number of wards including: paediatric, ICU, emergency, antenatal, special care nursery, mental health, medical imaging, rehabilitation and the Dudley Hospital.
In its five years of operation, RMHO has welcomed in 733 families from across the state, including many from the Central West.
So far, 31 families from the Mudgee region have stated a total of 240 nights, there's been 27 families from Dubbo (211 nights) and 16 from Bathurst (99 nights).
There have been 55 families from Cowra (279 nights), 72 from Forbes (273 nights), 133 from Parkes (1031 nights), 28 from Grenfell (151 nights) and 12 from Young (254 nights).
On Wear Red Day this Thursday, July 30 the community is encouraged to wear red and call Ronald McDonald House Orange on 6363 1960 to make a donation.
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