It might have gotten a bit dusty outside the newly expanded Ronald McDonald House of Durham when Zandra Clark announced that her baby daughter, at Duke Children's Hospital since her birth four months ago, would be coming home.
It was a happy ending to a tough situation, made easier by the Ronald McDonald House, which has been providing basic needs, comfort and support to families dealing with a child's medical crisis since 1980.
For Zandra and her husband, James, said the house allowed them to be a constant present with their daughter, born prematurely at 1 pound, 7 ounces, through her myriad treatments and surgeries.
"It was an answered prayer," Zandra said.
The Clarks are lucky, and not just because of the improved health of their daughter. Of the 1,300 families who sought refuge at the house last year, 700 had to be turned away due to lack of space.
The new faciity boasts 55 new bedrooms, up from 29.
It's why John Falletta, a founding board member, put a little twist on the oft-repeated line that this is "the house that love built."
"Today," he said, "it's the house that love sustains."
Gov. Bev Perdue was on hand as well and told of having a child with birth defects. She had to commute to and from hospitals for two years. No Ronald McDonald House was available for her, but she said she understands first hand what a home-cooked meal, the camaraderie of people in similar situations and other supports can do for the spirit.
"You can only imagine the stress these young couples face," Perdue said.
"You can only imagine what this house has meant to them."
Now, it will have meaning for so many more.
Please click on the slideshow for lots of great pics from yesterday's ribbon-cutting.