Ricky Zavaleta has an incredible story that begins in 1987, one year after the Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park opened.

Ricky Zavaleta’s story begins in 1987. Just one year after RMHC New York Metro opened its doors, Ricky’s family arrived in need of healthcare. Ricky’s cousin arrived from Ecuador to receive treatment for a rare bone cancer at Cohen Children’s Medical Center. The Zavaleta family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, only 200 feet away from the hospital. While their daughter received treatment, Ricky’s aunt and uncle were able to stay close to their child. Ronald McDonald House provided the comforts of a home and eased the burden of caring for their sick child.  

Ricky’s Mother, Irma Zavaleta, came to visit her family at RMHC in 1987 and fell in love with the Ronald McDonald House and its mission. Irma began volunteering and eventually became the Head of Housekeeping for RMHC New York Metro. Her son, Ricky, was five years old at the time. Ricky came to visit his mom at work often and even played in the playrooms after school.

Irma’s Kitchen & A Legacy of Love

Ricky describes RMHC New York Metro as his “second home” because of the love his mother poured into this special place. Irma’s expressed her love for RMHC families through cooking breakfast and dinner. Irma spent a lot of time in the kitchen, sharing coffee and a chat with those in need.

Irma passed away in 2009, but her legacy lives on. Our kitchen spaces have a personalized plaque lovingly inscribed “Irma’s Kitchen.” Her name and memory serve as a reminder of her devotion to those in need. Today, Ricky Zavaleta is the Facilities Manager at RMHC New York Metro in New Hyde Park, showing his love to the House in his own way. Ricky was blessed with two daughters who love visiting their father at work, just like Ricky used to do when he was young.

Ricky experienced being a resident at the Ronald McDonald House after birth of his first daughter and then again when his second daughter was born.

“Eventually my children will understand the importance of this house and the mission. I feel that cycle will continue on.”

– Ricky Zavaleta, Facilities Manager at RMHC New York Metro