Nourishing Families Staying at SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals for Life-Saving Medical Treatment

A safe, affordable home for patients & families traveling to UNC Hospitals for life-saving treatment

Imagine suffering a health crisis or taking care of a critically ill loved one far from home, friends & family. Our community is lucky to have UNC Hospitals. Patients & families travel here to Chapel Hill from all over NC & the US for life-saving treatment. We offer guests with nowhere else to stay respite during a long day at the hospital & relief from financial burden by providing lodging, meals, therapeutic activities, reliable transit & a caring support network. This much-needed grant would fund kitchen upgrades that can dramatically improve guest experience & operations. A recent guest shared “my son is extremely sick & my life a mess but when I’m at Family House I feel a sense of contentment. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.” Since opening doors in spring 2008 we’ve served 23,000 families. It hasn’t been easy but our Chapel Hill-based staff, donors, volunteers, guests & community partners work together to make the House a community treasure (more at secufamilyhouse.org/diary).

High demand for our guest rooms means we must turn away 2 of every 3 guests referred by a patient’s care team. We embarked on a $9.6M campaign to expand our building from 40 to 75 rooms. The existing Guest Kitchen will minimally meet guest needs once construction is complete. Our builder confirms that $25K can cover 1 commercial dish washer, 2 four-eye cook tops, 2 two-eye cook tops, 4 exhaust fans, 4 residential dishwashers, 2 ovens & 3 microwaves. The Guest Kitchen is the very heart of our home. Every guest relies on it; the meals & human connection made there nourish mind, body & soul. Guests bond with other guests, volunteers & staff & have uplifting experiences over food during long days, weeks, even months of medical treatment for cancer, severe burns, transplants & other conditions. Kitchen additions will also dramatically ease meal prep by volunteers, which State Farm agent Pam Herndon—who regularly makes dinner for guests and encouraged us to apply for this grant—can confirm.

Annually we serve 2,300+ families from all 100 NC counties & beyond. Guests say the House makes an invaluable difference in their lives—saving an average of $645/week by staying here as well as receiving much-needed mental, emotional & physical support. As they return home they carry the healing, relationships & memories developed in our community. Locally the expansion creates business to construction teams, architects, contractors & suppliers. We rely on 1,200+ local volunteers to keep the House running, from front desk receptionists to folding laundry. Folks from all over our community unite here in service of a mission greater than any one person, boosting volunteers’ feelings of fellowship & achievement. 250+ of guests every year are active/veteran military reporting better wellbeing & health outcomes because of their stay. Our value to Chapel Hill & the NC is enormous & would measurably increase with this grant for meaningful additions to the Guest Kitchen, nourishing thousands.

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