The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia, PA in 1974. Since then, more than 313 Ronald McDonald Houses have been opened in 31 countries around the world, all with a common mission of providing a "home away from home" for the families of hospitalized children.

The Ronald McDonald Houses of Ann Arbor have served more than 20,000 such families since the Ronald McDonald House of Ann Arbor opened in 1985. Spearheaded by the Junior Service League (now the Junior League of Ann Arbor), the project jointly involved that organization, Mott Children's Hospital, and the community. Originally able to accommodate 24 families each night, an expansion in 1992 increased that number to 29. The House is an independent non-profit organization whose Board of Directors consists of community leaders, employees of the University of Michigan Health System, and representatives of the McDonald's Corporation, its owner-operators, and of Ronald McDonald House Charities. Volunteers, now numbering nearly 100, have provided a great deal of the service to families as well as serving on committees such as house operations, fundraising and special events.