Mission & History

A Place Where Healing Happens Together


To create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children


Beginning of the Only Worldwide Service of Its Kind

The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974. Fred and Fran Hill’s daughter Kim was undergoing treatment for leukemia. During Kim’s three years of treatment, the Hills grew tired of sleeping in the hospital waiting room and eating meals out of vending machines. Fred, who was a player for the Philadelphia Eagles at the time, rallied the support of his teammates and General Manager Jim Murray, Dr. Audrey Evans from The Children’s hospital of Philadelphia, and local McDonald’s franchisees to create Ronald McDonald House.

More than 43 years later there are 365 Ronald McDonald Houses in 43 countries and regions.

Bob Jennings’ Passion and Persistence to bring a Ronald McDonald House to Joplin

Bob came to Joplin in 1964 as a McDonald’s owner/operator. Mickey Mantle approached Bob and his wife Libby about the possibility of building a Ronald McDonald House in Joplin. They agreed they would like to do it.

Bob tried for several years to bring a Ronald McDonald House to Joplin. However, sufficient numbers of children between zero and 18 years of age were not being served by our local hospitals to meet the requirements for a licensed house.

In 1993, when Freeman opened the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and then St. John’s began delivering babies, Bob asked his son Mike to go back to the International RMH Committee and once again request that our area be considered for a Ronald McDonald House. In August, 1996, the Jennings received permission and licensing for an eight bedroom Ronald McDonald House.




President: Joe Caputo, Ortho Four States
First Vice President: Angela Abbott, Pittsburg State University
Second Vice President: Patty Coss, McDonalds, Owner-Operator
Treasurer/Controller: Gary Brown, H.E. Williams, Inc.
Secretary: Annette Thurston, RMHC Executive Director


Paula Baker, Freeman Health System
Pat Barr, Edward Jones
Teresa Brown, Community Liaison
Phillip Close, McDonald’s Owner/Operator
Sharon Dean, PITSCO, Inc.
Michael Matney, Southwest Missouri Bank
Amanda Mitchell, Freeman Health System
Gary Pulsipher, Mercy Hospital Joplin
Montie K. Taylor, Great Southern Bank
Fred Wheeler, DO, Pediatric Associates of Southwest Missouri
Katie Harden, Mercy Hospital Joplin
Tara Horinek, RMHC of the Four States


Ken Bateman
Gary Duncan
Dorothy Farber
Jim Goodknight
Elizabeth Jennings
Dan Scott



Ronald McDonald House Charities has been McDonald’s ‘charity of choice, since the first House opened in Philadelphia in 1974. Each Ronald McDonald House is locally owned and operated – ours by Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Four States, a non-profit corporation which has obtained its tax exemption under Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Each chapter develops an individual relationship with the McDonald’s owner/operators and their restaurants. The partnership is unique but often misunderstood as McDonald’s in no way owns or funds our Ronald McDonald House.

Our local McDonald’s owner/operators support us by:

  • Having representation on our Board of Directors and various committees
  • Providing financial, volunteer and in-kind support
  • Allowing placement of donation boxes in restaurants
  • Conducting two in-store fundraisers called ‘Give A Little Love’ and McHappy Day plus a portion of each Happy Meal and Mighty Kids Meal sold benefits RMHC 365 days a year!
  • Financially supporting and participating in our RMHC Annual Golf Tournament, Big Red Shoe Run and Gift of Light Gift of Love

Our McDonald’s owner/operators are wonderful partners who along with the generosity of the community help us fulfill our mission.