Friday, May 01, 2009

Small Budget, Big Heart, Even Bigger Mission

Providing a Home Away From Home for the Families of Patients at Atlanta Area Hospitals

When a family member becomes ill, the burden is shared among everyone. When that illness requires an extended stay in the hospital, family members may be faced with the difficult question, “How can we afford to remain by their side throughout treatment?” Tucked away in a scenic, picturesque setting in the in the Historic Druid Hills is the answer for over 200,000 families who have asked themselves this question. Since 1981, The Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House has been opening its doors to patients and their families who are receiving treatment in any of the 21 Atlanta area hospitals.

Thanks to generous donations from supporters, including the Home Depot Foundation, The AHHH provides a home away from home for families of patients. Now, its services will be expanded to house eight more guests every night in the Marcus Hospitality Cottage a 1,400-square-foot facility which will have the capacity to provide lodging, meals and a supportive environment for patients and families receiving treatment. This addition increases the occupancy allowance from 17 to 25 guests per day.

“Thanks to The Home Depot’s commitment, we will have an open, welcoming and affordable overnight alternative for our families who commute for treatment,” said John Floyd, chief development officer of the Marcus Autism Center. “Because we treat the entire family, this facility will enhance the patient experience and provide a better basis for progress in the future.”

The new cottage, which is surrounded by towering hardwoods, sits adjacent to the main house. The new cottage has be built in the footprint of a dollhouse built by Cator and Charlotte Woolford, the original owners of the house. Since the groundbreaking in December, the cottage has been visited by Angela Sparks and her sister Cator Hartley, both granddaughter's of Cator and Charlotte.

“The history of the Cator home is always a consideration in our renovations, additions and decisions regarding the house,” said CJ Bolster, Chair of the Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House. “The Cator family has been very excited and supportive of the progress made by the AHHH. They have even gone so far as to help renovate and furnish their grandmother's bedroom in the main house. We appreciate all of their support, and could not serve our guests without generous donations from supporters like these families.”

The House spends approximately $44 per guest per day, however guests are only asked to contribute a donation of ten dollars. “We are not funded by any of the hospitals we serve or by government funds,” said Melissa Connor, AHHH Executive Director. “We are a non-profit organization supported by donations from churches, volunteers, foundations, civic and veteran’s organizations, businesses, and people who have been personally touched by the house, such as our former guests. Without these caring individuals, many of our guests would be sleeping in waiting rooms and using hospital bathrooms to stay clean.”

The Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House accommodates anyone, as long as they have been referred by the hospital chaplain's or social worker's office, and live 40 miles outside of Atlanta. If an overnight stay in not required, the house still opens its doors to families who need a place to rest, bathe or do laundry.

“Options are often limited when emergency medical situations arise,” said Bolster. “Hotels can be extremely expensive, and many families cannot take on the financial burden of an extended stay. The AHHH provides a unique and welcoming alternative that can mean the difference between being by a loved ones side, and being miles away.”

“The mission of the Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House is very important to people who are dealing with a family member’s medical emergency,” said Kelly Caffarelli, president of The Home Depot Foundation. “The Home Depot Foundation was given the opportunity to help the AHHH provide a home away from home for their guests by building the cottage, but the continued support of the organization by community members across Georgia is crucial.”

For more information on how you can help the mission or to speak to a dedicated staff member, visit or call 404-377-6333.

By Meg Watterson
Community News You Can Use
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