By Jill Nagy
After the stress of seeing to the needs of a seriously ill, hospitalized, child, a family really needs a break. Beginning this summer, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region will offer them exactly that: a long weekend in a cottage in Lake George, all expenses paid.
The respite will take place at the Krantz Cottage, a two-story cottage at 161 Ottawa St. in the middle of downtown Lake George. The formal project name is the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Krantz Cottage.
“We are very excited about this program, the first of its kind,” said David Jacobsen, chief executive officer of the regional Ronald McDonald organization. “We intend to replicate it in other areas.”
The building is the site of the former law office of the late Howard Krantz, a former village attorney.
The organization purchased the building from Krantz’s widow “with a large donation back,” and is in the process of renovating it. The inside has been completely gutted and is being rebuilt as two apartments. The exterior, now light blue clapboard, will be refinished in vinyl faux cedar shake shingles.
The first floor will be handicapped accessible for wheelchairs and people with other mobility aids. For the first year, the cottage will be available to one family at a time with the second floor occupied by housing caretakers, Jacobsen said. In the future, when COVID restrictions are eased, two families at a time will be able to use the cottage and caretakers will be hired from the local community.
The cottage will operate year-round but Jacobsen expects the greatest demand to be from July to October. Families will be able to stay at the cottage from Saturday to Wednesday. Then, it will be cleaned and restocked for the next family.
The village mayor, chamber of commerce, neighbors, and other members of the community have all pitched in to help with the project.
“That level of support from the community is essential,” Jacobsen said.
Contributions included cash, gift cards, and free or discounted labor or construction materials. Partly because of the many donations, Jacobsen said, it is difficult to estimate the total cost of renovations. Annual operating expenses are estimated at $140,000-150,000.
“There is a need for ongoing funding,” he noted.
The McDonald’s corporation is less involved with the Ronald McDonald House program than it was at its beginnings, Jacobsen said, but they still provide some funds. The owners and operators of the 66 McDonald’s in the capital region also support the project.
McDonald’s customers are encouraged to round up the amount of their bills—with the extra money used as a donation. That generates a donation of several thousand dollars a month.
Renee Reardon, who owns two McDonald’s Restaurants in Queensbury, has been sponsoring golf tournaments to support Ronald McDonald House Charities for 26 years, to the tune of $40,000-50,000 a year. The Inn at Erlowest, a resort on Lake George, will host casino nights May 25 and 26 to benefit the Krantz Cottage project.
Details and tickets can be found online at theinnat erlowest.com/casino-night.
Jacobsen has been CEO of the Capital Region of Ronald McDonald House Charities since January 2020. Previously, he was a consultant for other nonprofit organizations, including residential programs for children.
His main responsibility is the Ronald McDonald House in Albany, a refuge for families with children at Albany Medical Center’s children’s hospital. Today, 19 families are living at the house. In March 2020, they were forced to suspend admissions to the house and, for four months, housed families in area hotels before they were able to reopen. As with the retreat cottage, there is no charge for families to stay at the house.
For further information about Ronald McDonald House Charities or the Krantz Collage retreat, visit rmhcofalbany.org or call 518 438-2655.