WBZ Cares: Home Away From Home

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling Hospitality Homes,

a nonprofit organization that provides short-term housing in volunteer host homes for families and friends of patients receiving medical care in the Boston area.

WBZ Cares features Hospitality Homes. For the last 36 years the non-profit has provided temporary, free housing to families who travel to Boston from all over the world for medical care. They've served well over 15,000 families and Interim Executive Director Shanon Heckethorn says the need is growing.

“The demand has increased because the way in which the hospital landscape has changed in that patients have to be discharged a lot earlier. And so, often times physicians need to keep them close to the hospital, so our hosts and our alternative accommodations are available so that families can stay nearby,” stated Heckethorn.

Here's how it works…Local volunteer host families open up their homes to the out-of-towners, offering cost-free and comfortable accommodations during what's most often a challenging time.

“The patients and their caregivers that travel to Boston, they're here at a very difficult time in their lives. Traveling to Boston for medical care is usually and often the last hope for people. They've already gone to their local hospital, so then they come to Boston. So the gratitude and the notes that we receive and the testimonials and the heartwarming images of families with their hosts is pretty remarkable,” said Heckethorn.

Chelsey Huffman is from Minnesota.

“Our local hospital could only do so much. But we needed the experts at Boston that see this condition day in and day out,” outlined Huffman.

Her son Oliver was born 4 years ago with esophageal atresia. His esophagus didn't connect to his stomach. She turned to Boston Children's Hospital. The treatment involved a series of surgeries and would require moving to Boston for three to four months. A Hospitality Homes host offered a place to stay.

“Some of the most challenging moments of my husband and I’s life, but each night getting to go home, not only to a room but a home, I think plays a huge difference than just walking into an empty apartment. Every day we would go home to the Lodish home and we would be met there by Pam and Harvey who would ask about our son. And although they hadn’t ever met him face-to-face, because he had been in the hospital, it felt like we were going home to what now we feel like family. But that they cared, and that it felt to us more like family asking and caring about our son,” said Huffman.

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Shari Small Reports

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