When I stumbled upon the Blogging for a Cause idea, I immediately roped in my co-worker, Elissa Plastino. We worked on a list of causes we wanted to spotlight and knew immediately that HavenHouse had to be on it. Then, I got really brave and asked our CEO, Virginia McDowell to be a guest writer and introduce you to this great group of people. She said, “Yes”!!!!
Last week, I lost a brilliant colleague and very dear friend to a valiant battle with cancer. As a cancer survivor myself, I know how difficult it can be to not only to deal with the physical impact of the disease and the side effects of the various treatment options, but the mental impact as well. While we are told by friends, family and medical professionals of the importance of focusing all our energy on getting well, the simple truth is that life goes on. Bills need to be paid, meals have to be made, and just the arduous process of getting to and from a seemingly endless schedule of doctor’s appointments is a daunting task. It is for this reason that I thought of HavenHouse many times in my friend’s final days.
HavenHouse is aptly named – it is a truly a haven for families traveling to St. Louis for medical care, serving families and patients of all ages. Perched on top of a hill overlooking Olive Boulevard in Creve Coeur,MO, the facility sits in the middle of beautiful, park like surroundings, but is within walking distance of a large selection of shopping, dining and entertainment options. In addition to private rooms that are lovingly decorated by volunteers who even add such homelike touches as handmade quilts, HavenHouse also provides meals prepared with love by Miss Georgia; shuttle transportation to all St. Louis hospitals and critical support services from a staff that includes professional social workers. From the complimentary long distance phone service and internet access to the community washers and dryers and gym, HavenHouse is truly a home away from home.
Why is this important? Because it gives patients the ability to focus on their treatment in calm surroundings, knowing that they are at a place where the staff will always go the extra mile to help them. To be told that you or a member of your family has a serious disease that requires immediate treatment by specialists is devastating. To be told that the necessary treatment is hundreds of miles away in an unfamiliar city just adds to the stress, as does the cost of long stays away from home.
As a Board member of HavenHouse, I have come to know many of the families who have stayed there, and heard their stories, both of heartbreak and triumph. But they all say the same thing – to be able to stay in the safe embrace of HavenHouse, to eat the scrumptious fresh meals prepared with love by “Miss Georgia”, to know that you always have a ride home after a long day of chemotherapy, and to be welcomed back with a warm smile for an average cost of $35 per night, HavenHouse gave them hope that all would be well.
We are always looking for new volunteers and donors, and I would encourage everybody to visit our website at havenhousestl.org, or call us at (314) 434-5858 to schedule a visit.
Because of Virginia’s inspiration, I have gotten very close to the people at HavenHouse, even counting them among my friends. I’ve loved working with them with my fellow Community Aces – even down to gardening and messing up my manicure! Check out this video about them.