Ronald McDonald House of SWFL to receive makeover

FORT MYERS, Fla.- The bare walls at the Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida will soon get a brand new look as local designers donate their time and talent to the charity.

On Tuesday, 20 designers roamed the halls of the “home away from home” for kids receiving treatment at the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

“Thrilled, thrilled, first of all, to meet my new design community here has been great,” said designer Suzanne Costa, who previously worked on redecorating a Ronald McDonald House in New York.

The goal is “to make sure the families come back from the hospital into the best environment possible, the most warm and healing environment possible,” said Costa.

The home helps moms like Felicia Elsey, whose daughter, Emerson, was born premature, weighing less than 1 pound. Elsey lived at the Ronald McDonald House for four months, being close enough to visit her daughter at Lee Memorial Health System’s HealthPark.

“This is my second family now, we visit here often and we’re so grateful,” said Elsey.

The house is 20 years old, and needs a better use of limited space. Home & Design Magazine of Naples will document the transformation in a spread next spring.

“Everyone loves a great before and after. And I also think when you can tie that into an incredible cause that will transform the lives of so many families, it’s a win-win,” said Linda Donnelly, publisher of the magazine.

The makeover will help this house cope with the new Golisano Children’s Hospital, which will care for more children from all over Southwest Florida.

“I know that this house will want to support all the families that we can,” said Costa.

“It’s incredible that other people are taking the time to give back and make this place even better,” said Elsey.

The house will have to close for 19 days in February 2016, families will be provided hotel rooms, during that time. The newly-renovated home will be unveiled in early March. Ronald McDonald staffers say the house will eventually expand to make room for more parents as well.