Families with children undergoing medical treatment soon will get home-cooked meals from a renovated, updated kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House, supported by Tucson Electric Power.

TEP contributed to a remodeling project at the house, which usually serves 600 families whose children are under care at nearby hospitals annually. The kitchen was completed this summer.

Several times a year, teams of TEP employees, family members and friends prepare food, donated by TEP, through the Chef for a Day program.

Adriana Mariñez, TEP’s Local Affairs Representative and a former Ronald McDonald House board member, said she’s looking forward to the new, functional features when volunteers are allowed to return to the house, likely later this year. The volunteer program was put on hold during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s more than just providing a home-cooked meal for these families. We’re providing much-needed respite, financial relief, and most importantly, more time to be a family,” Mariñez said.

When staying at the house, families receive free lodging and meals, mostly cooked by volunteer teams. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, families have been staying at hotels, but the house hopes to bring families back in the coming months. At that point, TEP funding will be used to provide cater meals until volunteers can return at a later date.

After the Ronald McDonald House moves into its final phase of pandemic recovery, guests will be able to gather at long farm tables where they can create important bonds with other guest families. A new breakfast bar with milk and ice machines, an expanded kitchen island, and USB charging stations will allow for added convenience.

“We want to provide families with every ounce of relaxation or revitalization they need,” said Scott Matlick, Director of Business Development for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona. “We want to make sure to give them everything else they need they would normally get at home.”

TEP committed $10,000 over two years to the charity, most of which went toward the kitchen renovation.

In all, the 28-room house had a $400,000 renovation that included updates to the play area, plumbing, painting and other structural changes, Matlick said. The final product includes a plaque to recognize and thank donors.

“TEP is such an important part of the community and it is behind everybody and everything here,” Matlick said. “To see that TEP is part of this big project, I think is going to be meaningful for the Tucson community.”

This story is part of our ongoing series highlighting one of TEP’s philanthropic focus areas – community assistance. TEP works with non-profit partners to develop invitation-based donation requests for community assistance efforts. Funds come from corporate resources, not customers’ rates. Learn more about donations.

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