Ever since Dr. Cheryl Ferguson of QoLA Kids confirmed a few years ago that alternative to hospital housing would greatly help families under QoLA’s care, we forged ahead with our dream of opening a CHF Family House.
On Saturday, September 5, 2020, that dream became reality.
Saturday was the culmination of 242 days of home renovation and 1,500 volunteer hours. This labor of love led to the opening of the first CHF Family House, just three miles from the campuses of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. The CHF Family House opens its doors free of charge to families who need it when they don’t qualify for hospital-provided housing.
Cheryl joined CHF’s Chris Hope and Viola Cage in a grand opening celebration that felt truly inspiring to the several dozen guests in attendance for the ribbon cutting and open house. We will soon announce the first family that will live underneath the roof that so many hands and hearts helped create, from contractors and volunteers to donors and registry gift givers.
Why We Created The CHF Family House
As our founder, Chris Hope, said on the day of the grand opening, we have been introduced to a second side of life-threatening pediatric illnesses – and we feel called to help. The financial and emotional burdens families face while their loved one undergoes treatment are often overlooked. It’s hard for many people to ask for help when they need it, and that’s true for families bravely facing a pediatric health crisis, too. Because treatment regimes can be very long, parents can be taken away from their hometowns and, as a result, their jobs. Job loss is more common in these cases than we like to think about. Once job loss occurs, household bills start piling up, which makes it hard to cover necessities, such out-of-town lodging during treatment.
There are a few specific reasons why a family would be prevented from qualifying for hospital housing during treatment and follow-up appointments. These are:
- If families live within 75 miles from the hospital where their child is in treatment, they may not qualify for hospital housing. For families that are living in financial distress, the cost of gas to go back and forth to the hospital for treatments, even on a temporary basis, can quickly become overwhelming.
- Hospital housing allows only a certain number of family members in the housing unit. Some families are larger with multiple siblings. Families are often required to separate, with one parent staying behind at home to care for siblings because they cannot live together in Memphis under capacity restraints.
- Families often need transitional housing. Housing ends when patients don’t have an appointment for 7 or more days. Then, they only have 24 hours to vacate hospital housing once their qualifications end. Some families need more time for travel arrangements or to re-establish housing they lost during their extended treatment time at the hospital.
- Some homes are not readily safe for a patient to return to. The family needs time to make their home ADA compliant with ramps or other accessibility needs.
- Some parents are not married or have separate families. Alternative housing could prove beneficial to allow parents that live outside the home to be present and participate in their child’s care and treatment.
How You Can Help
Many people at the grand opening asked, “How can I help?” The greatest needs right now are simple, and they will go a long way!
First, donations, no matter how small, will help us with the fund we’ve set aside to cover recurring expenses such as the mortgage, professional cleanings, and supplies that will keep the Family House running. Plus, we are keeping our housewarming gift registry open through the end of the year for those who want to add an item to the house to help families feel right at home.
Second, you sharing our story is a powerful show of support! Just click one of the buttons below to help others learn about the CHF Family House and what we aim to do to help families facing the battle of their lives.