The history of Hospitality Houses goes back as far as that of our Nation. For centuries, people have taken into their homes those who found themselves in crisis. Richmond has a rich history of using private homes as places to recuperate and heal. We’ve been doing it at Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond since 1984. And now we celebrate with National Hospital Hospitality House Week.
According to the Healthcare Hospitality Network (HHN), formerly the National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses (NAHHH), the need for families and caregivers to have access to affordable accommodations during a medical crisis or medical treatment has increased significantly during the past ten years. In recognition of this, the HHN has designated the week of July 20-26 as National Hospital Hospitality House Week. The Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond is a member of the HHN and is a “home away from home” for an average of 150 people on a daily basis while they or their loved ones undergo medical treatment at a local hospital.
Since its inception in 1984, we have been “a place to call home” for more than 142,000 patients and families in medical crisis. The House is Richmond’s premier provider of lodging and non-medical support services for these families and is the largest hospitality house in the country that operates on a donations-only basis. Our guests come to Richmond from across Virginia, the United States and beyond. They are adults and children, transplant recipients and cancer patients, trauma victims and veterans. We help them overcome distance, transportation and financial concerns to obtain the specialized medical care they need from the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System-Medical College of Virginia Hospitals (VCUHS MCVH), the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, or six other Richmond area hospitals. Without the Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond, families would pay an average of $100 a day for hotel and meal expenses. This would be financially impossible for many families and as a result they would need to decide to delay or forgo the medical treatment their loved one needs.
We’re pleased to welcome J.C. Poma to Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond! He is our new Volunteer Manager, replacing Katie Demaio, who left us recently to explore great new adventures.
J.C. comes to HHH after working for the local sports start-up Arena Racing USA. As the Sales Manager for Arena Racing, J.C. brings a wealth of contacts to HHH that he hopes will translate to increased involvement in all areas of the organization. One of J.C.’s first goals is to educate new groups (corporations, churches, schools etc.) that want to utilize their time, talent and treasure to support what he believes is one of the best kept secrets in Richmond, the House. His long term goal is to change our mantra from one of the best kept secrets to the most talked about nonprofit in Richmond. He believes there is no better way to do that than inviting an individual or group to volunteer their time and see our mission and interact with guests up close and personal. Speaking of personal, J.C. is a proud graduate of the University of Virginia and received his masters from Georgetown University. While at UVa, he met his fiancé and best friend, Jennifer. The two are getting married in September here in Richmond. In his spare time, J.C. enjoys Cross Fit and is an avid Washington Redskins fan, or as they say these days, ‘The Washington Football Team’.
J.C. is already making an impact with our fabulous volunteers. If you’d care to meet him or grab a coffee, he’ll be at JPoma@HHHRichmond.org.
While many of our guest make plans to spend some time with us at Hospital Hospitality House, being in medical crisis is generally not a planned thing. We also try to provide the comforts of a home-away-from home. That being said, there are certain things that we can provide, and certain things you might like to bring.
While we provide linens for your room, and you can certainly exchange them each day, we also provide a laundry room. Any favorite towels or blankets can certainly come with you. You can also bring detergent, but we have donated detergents should you need them.
Bring your favorite book or magazine. We have a library, just off of our lobby, and it’s relatively well stocked. We may not have the latest blockbusters, so be prepared.
Toiletries are another item that we receive through donations. Bring what you think you’ll need, and we can help to fill in what you’ve forgotten.
We have a communal kitchen stocked with supplies and donated food. We also have meals that are prepared on a regular basis by our volunteers. If you have favorites, or a restricted diet, you may label, store, and prepare it in our kitchen.
We also have a dedicated pediatric floor. Our volunteers have decorated and stocked it to make it as kid-friendly as possible. It is, however, for pediatric patients. If your little one is with a guest, make plans to keep them entertained. We keep a decent supply of board games and such for our general guests, but perhaps not enough for the littlest visitors.
Bring your attitude – the good one. We’ve provided Hospital Hospitality House as a place of healing. We love what we do, and you have our support, but it will be up to you to get better!
This year, on August 22nd, we’ll gather for our 9th Annual Gilbane Restaurant Walk! We’ll meet with friends and supporters and roam the cobblestones of Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom, and sample savory food and drink from each of the participating restaurants. This year we’ll visit, among others, Canal Bistro, Southern Railway Taphouse, Torero (formerly Europa), and The Tobacco Company.
The neat thing is that Gilbane is our main sponsor for this event. They help to nail down the restaurants, find corporate partners, and help to lead the walk. And they’re a construction firm. But we suppose building communities means being part of one.
The other neat thing is how much money we raise. Between your ticket purchases and outright donations, our 2013 Gilbane Restaurant Walk brought in $16,000. All of that for a night of laughing, eating, and drinking.
Last year, over 200 joined us for our walk. If you would like to purchase tickets, click here.
Have you ever wanted to really freak someone out? The next time you’re in line at the grocery store or bank, look at the person standing next to you, offer them your broadest smile, and proudly say, “Well, Hello There!” Gets them every time.
Bringing a smile to Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond is every bit as important as having a place to heal or feeding a deserving guest. In fact, studies have shown that smiling improves mood, is contagious, and can actually boost your immune system! When you startle the stranger next to you, you’re actually paying it forward!
It’s no secret that our continued success is based on two critical factors: Your financial support and the dedication of our volunteers. Much of our chatter revolves around things like our upcoming Gilbane Restaurant Walk and SAVOR Dinner, two important fundraising initiatives. We also take every opportunity to offer thanks to those who donate time. Sometimes, however, it’s the intangible gifts that leave a big impact.
We occasionally host volunteers who bring a musical donation to The House. They sing, play instruments, and lead our guests in song. Many doctors play music during procedures because it allows them to concentrate on the task at hand. Music at Hospital Hospital House allows our guests to concentrate on healing.
Have you ever lost yourself in a book? While it has no nutritional value, and no intrinsic healing power, losing yourself in a story can certainly take you away from your immediate troubles. We maintain a small library at The House, filled with donated books, and frequently we see a guest engrossed in an adventure or spy thriller.
Some special folks stopped by the other day to offer their own sort of intangible gift. Arts in the Alley came with paint, brushes, and ideas. They painted some colorful murals in and around The House. They won’t cure anyone, you can’t eat them, they won’t pay our electric bill, but they do offer a bit of cheer to everyone staying with us.
We’re still the largest Hospitality House in the nation that survives solely on donations. So please give. We also rely heavily on the groups that offer their time and compassion by volunteering to provide meals. So keep signing up to do that.
We’re also always on the lookout for a broad smile. Those can be in short supply.
Staying in a hotel is expensive. When you’re in medical crisis, that expense is the last thing that you want to worry about. While our primary mission is providing a “home-away-from-home” for those in need, we also try to do it in a manner that they can afford. We ask only that our guests make a $15 contribution per night for their stay at Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond.
For the better part of 30 years, we’ve not had to turn anyone away because of their ability to pay.
It costs around $50 per person – per night – for someone to stay at The House. Tonight we’ll have around 150 guests calling us “home” for the evening. As you can imagine, this gets costly, and this Spring is certainly no exception. So we’re asking for your help.
Can you sponsor a Hospital Hospitality House family? A donation of $50 will provide one night’s lodging for a guest. $350 provides us with the resources to house them for a week! We would certainly welcome any amount, and the only ones more thankful than us are the guests that you’ll be helping in their time of greatest need.
There are many ways to give. We accept donations online and via mail. We also appreciate contributions to our endowment, and many choose to contribute in memory of a loved one. But, again, any amount helps. So thank you in advance for helping us to provide that “home-away-from-home.”
We’re very fortunate at Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond. For over 30 years, we’ve been blessed to serve thousands of people in medical crisis who have come to Richmond for their treatment. They have come from all over the United States, and from over 30 foreign countries. So you might argue that we’ve had some “success.”
But success is a relative term. We are always in need of things like cereal and paper products. Serving this many guests, day in and day out, means that we’re always on the lookout for linens and toiletries. Most importantly, we rely heavily on two things: Your generosity of both time and money.
You may have caught us on the news recently. We were on WTVR (you can watch it here) with some great friends, Davis & Green. They’re electrical contractors, but a big part of their mission is giving back to their community. They have been great partners over the years, and included us in their Heroes Campaign. The Heroes Campaign spotlights people and organizations that do great things in the community. We might argue that Davis & Green are the heroes.
We also had great financial success with our recent Fancy Hat Party. A fun-filled tradition, your generosity helped us raise over $45,000 for Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond. That money goes a long way and is greatly appreciated.
And we would be nowhere without the work of our volunteers. When you look at an organization our size, it’s typical to have a large staff to keep things going. We don’t have a large staff. Our volunteers, like Church of Christ at Three Chopt, Midlothian Christian Fellowship, and BB&T (just to name a few!), visit us regularly. They prepare meals, lead games, schedule music, paint walls, do a bit of landscaping…all of the things that a large paid staff would normally handle. We couldn’t serve our guests without their help and sacrifice.
Lastly, a huge key to the success of our volunteer program recently gave us some sad news. For many years, the person who organized this amazing group of people was our Manager of Volunteers, Katie DeMaio. She has been the one to make certain that hot meals were served, singers were singing, games were played, birthdays were celebrated, milestones recognized, and our guests were made to feel at home. She also took great pains that no holiday would go unnoticed, and that’s important when you’re away from home.
Earlier this month, and with a heavy heart, Katie told us that she would be moving on to new endeavors. She said,
Dear Volunteers and Friends,
First and foremost I want to thank everyone for their time and energy spent at the Hospital Hospitality House over the years as part of our volunteer program. This house would not be what it is without the countless hours given by you all.
The last five years at the Hospitality House have been a dream come true. Every person that I have met who has become involved here at the House has shown me a side of hospitality and caring that I will take with me on my new adventure.
I want to again thank you from the bottom of my heart for your hours of service, your time and your well wishes.
She’ll be sorely missed and we certainly wish her the very best in her new adventure. Given the time and energy that she’s devoted at Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond, we don’t feel as if we’ve seen the last of her.
We’re excited to announce our Headlining Chef for this year’s Savor Dinner: Chef Maneet Chauhan! Chef Chauhan has appeared on The Next Iron Chef, Iron Chef America, The View, and is currently a judge on The Food Network’s Chopped. A graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, she made her name at age 27 when she became the Executive Chef of Vermillion in Chicago and earned 3 Stars from the Chicago-Tribune. She went on to open At Vermillion in New York City as Executive Chef, and recently published her first book, Flavors of My World.
Our Savor Dinner will be Saturday, September 20th at the historic Jefferson Hotel, and will be our 6th Annual. If you’ve not attended a Savor Dinner, it’s considered one of the premier fund-raising events in Virginia. Proceeds benefit our needs at Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond, and previous years have seen such culinary stars as Cat Cora, Chef Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes, Chef Martin Yan of Yan Can Cook, White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, and the Jefferson’s own Chef Walter Bundy of LeMaire.
Mark your calendars now, and stay tuned for ticket sales!
As you may know, last week was National Volunteer Week. This started in 1974, and more than just a time to celebrate those who volunteer, it is a time to share our passion for civic-mindedness with others. Local leaders, our elected officials, and even our presidents have shared in this passion.
“Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large.”
That was Gandhi.
And we’ve certainly seen a good deal of happiness over the last thirty years. It’s ironic, because our guests come to us with fear and uncertainty. But our volunteers are able to bring happiness through games, hot meals, music, and sometimes by helping to spruce things up around Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond. Last year, they gave over 13,000 hours of their time doing just that: Spreading happiness. We see the results when our guests smile, and hear it when there is laughter coming from the children’s floor, or when someone says, “Thank You” as they prepare to return home.
Individuals have given much of their time, but our groups are the secret treasure around The House. 93 different volunteer groups have helped to provide comfort over the last year, and brought their happiness with them. Church groups like Church of Christ at Three Chopt; professional associations like the Virginia Society of CPA’s; businesses like Spotts Fain: they’ve all contributed. The Junior League of Richmond has hosted over 20 events at The House. They’re regulars.
Much like your donations, gifts of time and commitment allow us to continue, and the gift of compassion allows us to thrive. We could not exist without the dedication of our volunteers. And that spirit is contagious.
When your friends like a certain type of music, you tend to like it also. We watch movies based on the recommendations of our friends and colleagues. We eat the food that our parents made, and vote the way our parents voted. In a social experiment, a man in a mall opened a door for someone, and researchers tracked the number of people who returned the favor. Those who had been extended the courtesy were exponentially more likely to extend that courtesy to someone else. They paid it backwards, but paid it nonetheless. We like to think that when our volunteers return to their homes and families and jobs, they speak highly of their experience, and the satisfaction of providing happiness to someone in need at Hospital Hospitality House. And they tell two friends. Then they tell two friends. And so on, and so on.
Thank you to our many volunteers. We are eternally grateful for your part in providing a home away from home for our guests. We look forward to seeing many more of you soon.
For more information about how you can volunteer at The House, click here.
People come to us for one reason: They or a loved one are in medical crisis and need someplace to rest during treatment. Around 150 guests call Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond “home” on any given evening. And that’s very much our mission – to create a “home away from home.”
The benefits of a stay at the Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond go far beyond finances and temporary housing. Hospital Hospitality House guests find in one another what guests at other temporary housing (like hotels) may lack: companionship. In times of crisis, people in similar situations band together to overcome both physically and emotionally taxing situations. We see this happening every day here at the House, and firmly believe that something as simple as having someone to talk to is a crucial part of the healing process.
Don’t just take our word for it, though. Studies have shown that physical contact can increase the body’s production of serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter that is thought to contribute to feelings of happiness. Physical contact also promotes the secretion of oxytocin, a hormone that has been shown to aid in physical healing. As you can see, even a small gesture such as a loving embrace can make a world of difference.
One of our guests told us, “The staff and other guests were so helpful when my husband had his liver transplant. They became my family.” Another said, “I was there for a few weeks. You were like family to us.”
It’s comments like these make us look forward to coming in to work each day even more than we already do.
We often have friends who stop by with gifts of donuts, paper goods, or food for our pantry. We maintain a solid wish list of things that are always needed, and donations go a long way towards making things a bit easier. When our friends stop by, they don’t dash in and out. They say hello, and often stay for a while to help prepare a meal or play a board game. Although they’re technically our friends, we view and treat them as family.
We’re also reliant on friends for funding. We’re the largest Hospitality House in the nation that exists solely on donations. Your donations recently helped to pay for the replacement of some aging air conditioning. Our new cooling tower is much more efficient and environmentally friendly, and should keep our guests comfortable for many years to come.
Closing the streets around our building for an entire day to lift tons of equipment 7-stories caused quite a commotion. In addition to our volunteers and staff, many of our guests took some time to enjoy a moment of good weather and take in the spectacle. This brought our Hospital Hospitality House family even closer for the better part of a day.
A week ago, we walked past our library and parlor areas while pondering the thousands of appreciative guests who’ve passed through over the years, thankful for a respite from the worries of ill health. This quiet workspace for our volunteer social workers and librarian has always been a particularly peaceful area of the House. We remarked about how peaceful we felt whenever we walked down that particular corridor, and our volunteer librarian replied, “I understand. It’s a pathway to healing.”
Perhaps that’s what we are. A bit of respite, a bit of family, a home away from home, and most importantly, a pathway to healing.