Hospitality Homes: Helping Those in Crisis & How to Get Involved
There’s a beautiful quote by Mohsin Hamid that juxtaposes everyday life with our most vulnerable moments.
“For one moment we are pottering about our errands as usual and the next we are dying, and our eternally impending ending does not put a stop to our transient beginnings and middles until the instant when it does.”
Life is ordinary and continuous, even when we know there will be an end, until the very instant tragedy strikes. For me, that moment to suspend time was a phone call informing me my dad couldn’t remember who he was; he suffered a massive stroke.
It was through this tragic period that I found a type of organization completely unknown to me at the time: hospital hospitality homes.
I want to spotlight hospitality homes, specifically two that are close to my heart (Orlando and Atlanta). Why? To build awareness and provide ways to support these wonderful organizations. We often don’t seek out how to most prepare in times of tragedy and when bad times arrives, the only thing on our mind is taking care of those around us.
My goal: someone reads this post today and remembers, during tragedy, there are people there to help and a place to go.
WHAT IS A HOSPITALITY HOME?
A hospitality home is a non-profit house near hospital facilities for out of town patients and families. Similar to a bed and breakfast in style, they provide a clean bed, warm meals and support at a fraction of price compared to hotels. Similar to Ronald McDonald Houses, which provide support for families with sick children, hospitality homes keep families together during times of crisis.
When my dad had his stroke, the closest hospital with the facilities he needed was 2 hours away from home. He was airlifted to Orlando, FL and when we arrived, I naively thought he would be there the weekend and quickly come home. I booked a room at a basic hotel for $150 per night. However our nurse, who could sense my dad's situation was more dire than a weekend hospital visit, urged us to visit the local hospitality home, Hubbard House and get a room there.
Fortunately we did. Not only did we have a clean room and free meals, the hospitality home took the burden off our family financially. We could focus less on bills and more time on my dad. Here's the cost breakdown of our particular trip (each home will vary in price):
- Normal hotel (~30 days @ $150/night): $4,500
- Hubbard House (~30 days @ $40/night): $1,200
- Savings: $3,300 (not including meals)
The homes are for patients and families that are not local to the area. We met patients who were commuting for new cancer therapies, families staying through surgeries, loved ones saying goodbye. We made a strange and wonderful family, all of us in our own tragedy yet understanding and there for each other. The support group and empathy the guests had for each other was a warm embrace desperately needed.
Here’s the most useful part. Most big cities have similar homes near hospitals. There is a network of Healthcare Hospitality Homes across the US that help patients and offer volunteer opportunities, in addition to standalone homes that function as a local non-profit.
TAKE AWAY: Tragedy can strike us anywhere. One family at the Hubbard House was there because their 18 year-old had a brain aneurism on a theme park roller-coaster during her graduation party. Life doesn't stop for anything, even vacation, and knowing these organizations exist makes all the difference.
Melissa, the executive director of the Atlanta Hospital Hospitality Home, (AHHH) told me many nights rooms go empty because a lack of awareness (though the hospital still has families sleeping in waiting rooms). If more people knew these homes existed, we could serve those in crisis at the biggest moment in their lives.
HOW TO GIVE BACK AND GET INVOLVED
As a recipient of their services, I will forever be grateful for the volunteers and employees who impacted our life those weeks. I now donate money, time and food to the Hubbard House and the AHHH in hopes I help current patients or families in need.
The best part of volunteering with these organizations is how impactful and easy it is! Below are ways to get involved:
- Cook dinner for residents
- Make “snack bags” for families to take on their trips to the hospital
- Volunteer your time to cut the grass, plant flowers, or do house projects
- Donate water bottles, food, paper goods
- Write notes of encouragement to families or send flowers to guests
- Awareness - if you or someone you know is an out-of-town hospital visitor, please reach out to a hospitality home in your area or share this post with your loved ones. Help is always nearby!
Both the AHHH and Hubbard House are run by fabulous and friendly women. Next time you are in either of those towns, reach out ahead of time to get involved. An hour of your Disney vacation or road trip will impact your life and dozen others. Not in Orlando or Atlanta? Check out all the hospital hospitality homes across the US through the HHH network.
A special thanks to Melissa and Peggy from the AHHH and Hubbard House for lovely photos and partnership.
Have you ever stayed at a hospitality home? Interested in volunteering?