It’s time to tell you about Hospitality Homes. They’ve gotten a lot of press lately. First there was an article in Upworthy, and there was also a segment on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. They deserve all of the attention that they are getting, because they provide an amazing service to families who have loved ones in the hospital.
They house people and their families for free while they are getting medical treatment in Boston. You read that right.
Boston is a center for medical advancement. Filled with both hospitals and medical schools, it is often where people travel to as a last resort. They come for second opinions, or because there are world experts who can help. Boston is home to both the number one hospital for adults (Massachusetts General Hospital) and the number one hospital for children (Boston Children’s Hospital). Quite simply, it’s where you go if you need answers and you’re not getting them.
However, families are often already stretched thin with medical bills, prescriptions, and also the cost of travel to get to Boston, and hotel rooms are expensive. This is where Hospitality Homes comes in. Hospitality Homes is a non-profit organization that recruits volunteers to open their homes to families who are traveling to Boston for medical care. They need to come from fifty miles away or more, and they can’t stay for more than three months. But rather than a hotel room, they are coming back to a home, with families to talk to. It’s comfortable and it cuts down on costs. This is free to anyone who needs it and applies, and Hospitality Homes only asks for a donation to keep the organization running.
Seriously, how cool is that?
I learned about it a few months ago, and I decided that now that we live in the Boston area, that we should volunteer our home. I talked about it with Michael, filled out the application, and was contacted by Denise DuClos, the Outreach Coordinator. She told me that it’s unlikely anyone would stay with us because we are quite far out in the suburbs, and most people want to be closer to the center of the city. However, there were some things I could still do.
One of the opportunities she offered was to “host” a family that was staying in an apartment that had been donated near Massachusetts General Hospital. I would be their go-to person to ask questions, or to take them around, or to help them to get to specific places. I agreed. They were a great family, with two kids and a parent who was getting treatment. They spent about a month in the apartment, and I would check in with them weekly and met with them a few times. It was pretty low commitment, and I felt like I could put my otherwise useless knowledge to good use, knowledge about Massachusetts General Hospital and its surroundings, special places, parks you can walk to, discounts and free passes to museums.
Then a few weeks later, I got a call. There was a mom that needed placement because her daughter was in the hospital, in a satellite campus that was close to our home. She needed a place to stay from Thursdays to Sundays, for most of the summer. Did we think we could do it?
Of course we said yes.
So she has been coming , and it has been great. Most of the time, she’s with her daughter in the hospital, but we’re here when she arrives on Thursday and sometimes she has dinner with us. My girls give her hugs when she leaves. I occasionally leave her a chocolate bar and a note on her bed. She’s managing this illness with her daughter and we are supporting her.
I totally wish I knew about this organization when we were going through Wendy’s illness. Imagine, having a home to go back to. Imagine hearing kids laughing in the back yard or a kitty that snuggles up to you. I remember when Wendy was in the hospital how much I missed music, it was totally missing from our lives. No music in the hospital, no music in the elevators, no music in the hotel rooms. It’s funny the things you notice when you’re in the midst of trauma, the things that signify normal life only when they go missing and you realize life isn’t normal right now.
Here’s the other thing. Hospitality Homes is the only organization of its kind in the country. Imagine if there was a whole interconnected web of Hospitality Homes that matched volunteers and families throughout the country, if they’re going to different hospitals for cancer treatments or organ transplants. Imagine a network of caring individuals who could be called upon to open their homes in times of tragedy for families in Baltimore, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, or San Diego.
It would be amazing!!!!
Take a look at the Hospitality Homes Website here. If you live in the Boston Area, think about volunteering your home. If you know someone in need of a place to stay, share the information. If you feel moved to donate, do that too. There should be more places like Hospitality Homes in the world, connecting generous volunteers with people in acute need.
I’m so glad to be a part of it.