Opinion

Nurturing home near UNC Hospitals will soon serve more guests – Janice McAdams

Even under the best circumstances, serious illness means stressful disruptions to a family’s life, routine, and financial situation. When treatment is far from home, and in an unfamiliar town, families experience additional anxiety and financial burdens.

At SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals, patients and their loved ones who travel great distances for life-saving procedures and serious illnesses find a safe, nurturing, affordable home. Our caring volunteers and staff serve over 2,200 guests a year, helping them rest, heal and gather strength when they need it most.

Our 40 rooms are in constant use, and demand is so high that we turn away two of every three guests who are referred by a patient's medical care team. For every family we cannot accommodate, our volunteers work tirelessly to secure a discounted rate at local partner hotels. Last year, we announced our intent to nearly double the size of Family House to 75 rooms. Last month, we announced that we have reached the ground breaking fundraising goal of $6.1 million, which is 75 percent of our $8 million campaign goal.

We are now focused on raising approximately $2 million more to impact the health of more patients and families in North Carolina and beyond. We plan to break ground in 2018, and campaign co-chairs Bob and Becky Woodruff, who are longtime volunteers, and Board member Maureen O'Connor invite all to consider contributing to the Share the House expansion campaign.

Family House is a critical link in alleviating barriers to accessing the highest-quality health care. Guests come to UNC Hospitals from every county in North Carolina, and from many other states and countries. More than half are receiving treatment for cancer, and others are healing from burns, organ transplants, eating disorders, post-partum depression, and other serious illnesses. Guests stay for days, weeks, and months at a time, and pay what they can. Donor support from individuals, corporations, foundations, and churches means we can offer affordable room rates ($45 nightly for a standard room and $60 for a suite) and offset our actual operational costs.

The $8 million capital project will add additional rooms and suites in a new building behind the existing house on Old Mason Farm Road in Chapel Hill. In the existing building, we are renovating the lobby to create a larger, more inviting check-in area with more privacy for guests. Our kitchen, the true heart of the house, will be enlarged and renovated with updated appliances, furniture, and fixtures.

As we enter our 10th year of operations, we have a proven track record of fiscal management. We have no debt, and we maintain a reserve fund for replacements and repairs. Steady support from individuals and organizations gives our board the confidence to undertake this important expansion effort. Our operational planning over the past year has considered the needs of a larger facility, our responsibility to maintain our beautiful house, and the need to keep it clean and safe for families who rely on us.

The reality is that serious illness is indiscriminate. It can strike any family at any time, and when it does, Family House is here to help guests find normalcy over upheaval and reassurance over uncertainty. We share a commitment to positively impacting the health of more patients and families with the entire Family House community: guests, donors, volunteers, and the 100 North Carolina counties we serve. Please contact me to find out how you can help provide encouragement, strength, and support to thousands of families who will walk through our doors for many years to come.

For more information about the Share the House expansion campaign, see secufamilyhouse.org/share

Janice McAdams is the executive director of SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals.

How to help

There are several ways you can help SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals:

▪ Organize a group to prepare a meal on a scheduled basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.)

▪ Gather items for the house wish list

Individuals and groups are welcome. If you are interested in volunteering, call 919-932-8009

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