Durham, N.C. — The Ronald McDonald House in Durham is still $1.2 million short of its budget for an expansion to the center.
But the nonprofit is moving ahead anyway with a construction project that will double the number of families it can help.
"We are building in faith. We aren't waiting until we have all the money to start building," Ronald McDonald House Executive Director Oie OsterKamp said Wednesday. "We have faith in the community to come together so we can finish construction."
Last year, the nonprofit provided a home away from home for 1,200 families, but had to turn away 700 families in need because of the lack of space.
The new building will "allow us to say yes to a whole lot more, which is a wonderful thing," OsterKamp said.
Matthew Pitera, 15, of New Jersey, is battling his second recurrence of brain cancer at Duke University Hospital. He and his mother, Erika Pitera, are grateful to relax and recover at the Ronald McDonald House.
"It's wonderful. It truly is a home away from home," Erika Pitera said. "I don't have to be concerned about what am I cooking for dinner. There is a beautiful meal every single night."
Erika Pitera said it gives her peace of mind to know that she has a beautiful place for her son to recover.
Following this round of treatment, Piteras will have to return to the Ronald McDonald house for another eight weeks of treatment.
"My mom is always by my side, and everyone here is too," Matthew Pitera said. "I'm never like alone."