In Honor of Our Hero

By | December 29th, 2017

Kate with her husband and children, Brian and Hope

“For several years now, my family and friends have come together at Gift of Life Family House to cook and serve guests a special, home-cooked meal …

We choose to be Home Cook Heroes because we know what these families are going through. And we do it because we want to honor our own hero, our son Gavin, on his birthday.

Gavin had a febrile seizure that led to cardiac arrest in April of 2013. He was 5 1/2 years old. His kidneys were the only viable organs able to be donated — and both of them went to a man in his 40s.

It meant so much to us to donate Gavin’s kidneys at the end of his life, and we feel joy over and over as we help families staying at the Family House. They come from all over the world, and the Family House serves as their “home away from home” — and so much more.

Helping others is, to me, one of the best ways to honor Gavin. In these final hours of the Matching Challenge, I hope you’ll stand with us by making a generous gift to be doubled!”

-Kate Leong

To help families who rely on the Family House during a most difficult and uncertain time in life, a generous friend has offered a $50,000 Matching Gift opportunity. Like you, this caring friend wants every transplant family to have access to an affordable place of rest, delicious home-cooked meals, and a warm and caring community of support. So every gift received prior to the December 31st deadline will be matched dollar for dollar, ensuring that more transplant families will experience a “home away from home” at the Family House.

 

 

A Special Note from our Social Worker

By | December 27th, 2017

Talia, Family House Social Worker with Sofia and Stefany, past Family House guests

“I am one of many who work to make Gift of Life Family House a true “home away from home”.

Through my job as an in-house social worker, I offer support — including individual and group counseling — to help families through the transplant process.

But over the last six-plus years, I have also wiped tears, given hugs, brought in therapy dogs, celebrated birthdays and graduations, thrown bridal showers, and so much more.

It’s a privilege to stand with these families who have come from across the state, or across the country, on their transplant journey. And it’s a privilege to stand with other people who care. Will you make a gift during the Matching Challenge so every dollar can double to provide a home to patients and families in their hardest times? ”  – Talia Giordano, MSW, LSW, Family House Social Worker

To help families who rely on the Family House during a most difficult and uncertain time in life, a generous friend has offered a $50,000 Matching Gift opportunity. Like you, this caring friend wants every transplant family to have access to an affordable place of rest, delicious home-cooked meals, and a warm and caring community of support. So every gift received prior to the December 31st deadline will be matched dollar for dollar, ensuring that more transplant families will experience a “home away from home” at the Family House.

 

 

Help lead families like Yani’s “home”

By | December 19th, 2017

“I was nervous the first time I came through the doors of Gift of Life Family House.

Yani with her mother, Merida

My mom had been so sick for so long … she was having dialysis three times a week. So I was really thanking God that she had the opportunity to receive a kidney transplant. I came to visit her for a week over the holidays, and I expected the Family House to be a big, noisy, busy hospital. I was very surprised to find that it was a beautiful and quiet!

We had a really special Christmas together. We made a gingerbread house along with some of the other families who became friends to us, which was really nice because our other family was so far away.

The Family House was a great blessing to us and to a lot of other families. Please make a gift now, while every dollar can go twice as far to help other patients and their families when they need it the most.” -Yani Barrow

To help families like Yani’s who rely on the Family House during a most difficult and uncertain time in life, a generous friend has offered a $50,000 Matching Gift opportunity. Like you, this caring friend wants every transplant family to have access to an affordable place of rest, delicious home-cooked meals, and a warm and caring community of support. So every gift received prior to the December 31st deadline will be matched dollar for dollar, ensuring that more transplant families will experience a “home away from home” at the Family House.

 

Help Twice as Many Families like Jennifer Herrman’s this Holiday Season

By | December 13th, 2017

Jennifer with her caregiver and mother, Jule

“Thank you so much for making my mother and me feel welcome at Gift of Life Family House.

My life depends on a double lung transplant. We’re here at the Family House waiting and hoping for “the call.”

I was just 33 when I got sick. In the years it took to get my diagnosis of Diffused Systemic Scleroderma with Interstitial Lung Disease, I had to quit my job and all my financial resources were depleted. The Family House means my mother, who is my required caregiver, and I are not living in hotels and out of suitcases. It provides us with a home while away from home and a sense of stability during this very uncertain time.

It’s clean, quiet, comfortable, and beautiful. There are home-cooked meals every night, laundry facilities, a shuttle, and other families just like us who are waiting and hoping, too.

We are so grateful to people who support the Family House “home” so we can focus on being ready when my call comes. Will you help twice as many families like mine by making a gift during the Matching Challenge?” – Jennifer Herrmann

To help families like Jennifer’s who rely on the Family House during a most difficult and uncertain time in life, a generous friend has offered a $50,000 Matching Gift opportunity. Like you, this caring friend wants every transplant family to have access to an affordable place of rest, delicious home-cooked meals, and a warm and caring community of support. So every gift received prior to the December 31st deadline will be matched dollar for dollar, ensuring that more transplant families will experience a “home away from home” at the Family House.

 

CONTINUE YOUR COMMITMENT TO THE FAMILY HOUSE FOR YEARS TO COME

By | December 12th, 2017

Have you ever considered making a provision for Gift of Life Family House in your will?

When you make a bequest to the Family House, you will help to ensure a “home away from home” for the transplant families who will need us for years to come. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your deeply held values will live on through the loving care we provide. You will also help to ensure that the Family House is able to maintain their affordable fees and broad array of services for all who need support— now and in the future.

It is an easy and simple way that you can support the future of the Family House and continue care for transplant patients and families. Bequests can be a percentage of the remainder of your estate or a specific dollar amount.

Sample language for making a bequest: “I give, devise, and bequeath to Gift of Life Family House, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization located at 401 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123, EIN 26-0585694, or its successor-in-interest, (insert dollar amount or percentage) for its unrestricted use and purposes.”

Sam and Jean Jones, Legacy Society members

If you already have prepared a will, you can simply add a codicil amending it to include the Family House.

Already included the Family House in your will? Let us know so we can celebrate with you now!

Enjoy recognition today as a Legacy Society member.
Supporters who notify us that they have made arrangements for planned gifts will be recognized as members of our prestigious Legacy Society. And for members who have made bequests of $10,000 or more will have their name and giving level added to the special Legacy Society Wall in the Family House living room.

Visit www.GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org for more information.

To discuss making a planned gift to Gift of Life Family House or if you have already named us in your will, please contact Sara Cohen, Development Manager at 267-546-9812 or email scohen@giftoflifefamilyhouse.org.

Please consult your attorney, tax advisor or financial advisor before making a bequest or updating your estate plan.

 

Beating the Winter Blues

By | December 6th, 2017

Laura Giannotti,  a Family House Social Worker

Caregiver Lifeline Spotlight

by Laura Giannotti, MSW, LSW
Gift of Life Family House Social Worker

When you think about the winter season, you may think of the holidays or fresh fallen snow, which may bring you happiness and joy. You may also think of the treacherous weather, cold air, and shorter days, which can cause you to dread the winter season. It is not uncommon to feel sad, irritable, sluggish, or even have difficulty getting up in the morning. These feelings during the winter months are common and are often referred to as the “winter blues”. When you are feeling down, it can be easy to convince yourself that you cannot do things you enjoy – here are some tips
that may help you beat the winter blues.

1. Maintain a healthy routine:

The winter is full of excuses for not staying active or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is important to keep doing everyday tasks that you normally do at other times of the year, including exercising and eating healthy. This consistency may help you focus on the task at hand, rather than the blues. You can stay active by stretching, doing yoga, dancing to your favorite song, or participating in your favorite winter sport. The smallest activity can help you get through even the toughest day.

2. Soak up the Sun:

The shorter days in the winter play a big role in feeling the winter blues. Many people get out of bed when it is still dark outside, go to work, and then come back home when it is dark again. The lack of sunlight can throw off your rhythm – both emotionally and physically. Try to go outside for at least a few minutes during the day, especially when the weather is mild. If you cannot get outside, try opening blinds, sitting by a window, or turning on overhead lights. This extra light may help you regain this rhythm.

 

 

3. Talk (or think) it through:

If the winter months make you feel blue, remember that you are not alone. Talk to your family and friends. Most likely, they have felt or are feeling the winter blues too. Share tips with each other that have helped. Another way to fight the winter blues is by writing down or thinking about at least three things you are thankful for each day. By focusing on the positive, you can help change your mood and outlook on the season.

4. Do something you enjoy:

It may be hard to become motivated when you are feeling blue. This can be especially hard in the winter when it is cold and dark outside. It is essential to still do things you enjoy! Challenge yourself to take up a new activity, socialize with friends and family, or make a list of winter activities you like to participate in, such as ice skating, playing in the snow, or simply reading a book while drinking hot chocolate. Try to do something fun every week, or even every day. It is important to look forward to something you like to do, instead of feeling like you are trapped inside.

If you are finding that the winter blues make it hard for you to function and those feelings continue for several days or weeks, consider reaching out to a counselor or therapist who may be able to help. For more information or support, you can also reach out to one of the Caregiver Lifeline Program social workers at CaregiverLifeline@GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org

 

Lead Them Home

By | November 27th, 2017

Since we opened our doors more than six years ago, the Family House has welcomed thousands of transplant patients and their caregivers to a real “home away from home.”

Among them is Alicia Hoover-Murphy, who found help and hope here first as a caregiver…and later as a transplant patient.

Alicia Hoover-Murphy with her husband, Dave Murphy

Alicia and her father had both been diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis—a terminal lung disease for which a lung transplant is currently the only treatment option.

Two days before his 46th birthday, the call came … Alicia’s father would receive a new set of lungs. Like many transplant families, they were far from home as they waited and hoped—for months.

Your support of Gift of Life Family House made sure they had a little less to worry about during those endless, scary months. At the end of every long, hard day spent at the hospital cheering him on, the family returned to a “home away from home” that included home-cooked meals; clean, comfortable rooms; heartfelt support from staff; and camaraderie with other transplant families.

Although her father’s transplant was a success, complications mounted in the months following the procedure, which ultimately claimed his life.

Over the next few years, Alicia grew sicker herself. It was a bittersweet day when she and her loved ones returned to Gift of Life Family House so she, too, could undergo the many tests and consultations that would lead her to being listed for a transplant.

Alicia’s father, Edward Hoover

“When we were there for my father, we’d made friends with the staff and other families at the Family House. They were all like a second family to us,” Alicia says. “It was so nice to be surrounded by people who understood what we were going through and to be able to educate one another about what to expect.”

When her call finally came, Alicia was more than ready for the lung transplant that would restore her to health, to her family, to life.

Alicia’s transplant was a success. She and her family are deeply thankful for the organ donor who gave her a second chance in life and for contributors like you who make the Family House a warm, wonderful, and affordable place to stay during a most difficult time.

“Thank you to all of you for this amazing home. You make it possible for the Family House to offer an environment that is safe to people going through extremely rough times in their lives,” Alicia says. “The Family House provided a place of shelter for my family and provided me with a whole other family that I love and care about as if they were my own relatives.”

To help families like Alicia’s who rely on the Family House during a most difficult and uncertain time in life, a generous friend has offered a $50,000 Matching Gift opportunity. Like you, this caring friend wants every transplant family to have access to an affordable place of rest, delicious home-cooked meals, and a warm and caring community of support. So every gift received prior to the December 31st deadline will be matched dollar for dollar, ensuring that more transplant families will experience a “home away from home” at the Family House.

RIGHT: Today, Alicia is healthy, happy, and busily raising three children … but she still has time to tell others how thankful she is that they support the Family House, because thosegenerous contributions ensure that the nightly rate remains affordable for families who are
already experiencing so many challenges.

 

 

FAQs for Communicating with Your Donor Family

By | October 12th, 2017

by Jacquelyn Kates, LSW, CT
Family Support Counselor, Gift of Life Donor Program

 

Gift of Life Donor Program encourages transplant recipients to write to their donor families.

Our Family Support Services Counselors review all correspondence and facilitate

the exchange of letters between recipients and donor families.


FAQs for Communicating with Your Donor Family

The hospital did not give me much information about my donor. How can I find out more information about my donor and donor family?
For confidentiality purposes, recipients are not given personal information about their donor or donor family. However, recipients are encouraged to write to their donor family should they wish to learn more.

I do not want to upset my donor family by writing them a letter. When is a good time to write and send the letter?

The best time to write and send a letter is when the recipient is ready. Acknowledging the gift of transplant and thanking the donor family can be an important step in the recipient’s own healing process. If the donor family is not ready to receive a letter, they have the choice to keep it unopened.

 

Who in my family can write?
Anyone is invited to write to the donor family.

What should I write in my donor letter?
There is no perfect letter. We recommend saying thank you to the donor family for their compassionate decision or honoring their loved one’s wishes. A recipient could share how their life has changed since transplant and what they hope to accomplish with a second lease on life.

Is there anything I should not write?
Identifying information such as last names, addresses, phone numbers, email, and social media accounts may not be shared. If this information is included, it will be removed prior to forwarding to the family. However, make sure recipient includes full name, address, date of transplant, transplant center, and organ received on a separate piece of paper. This information is needed to identify the donor family and forward the letter.

Where should I send my letter?
Gift of Life Donor Program
Attn: Family Support Services
401 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Is it normal to feel guilty after receiving a transplant?
It is very common for recipients to feel guilty after transplant, which is sometimes known as survivor guilt. Speaking to other recipients in a transplant center support group setting or talking with a donor family can be helpful in relieving these uncomfortable feelings. Gift of Life Donor Program and Family House have many donor family volunteers that are open to talk with recipients about their experience.

Can the donor family write to me/my family?
The donor family is able to write to recipients following the same guidelines and process.

When will I hear from my donor family?
Unfortunately, a recipient may not hear from their donor family. Grief is a unique experience and some families may not be ready to write or may not want to.

How can I meet my donor family?
Donor family and recipient meetings are shown in the media, but many recipients do not have the opportunity to meet their donor family. Before a meeting can take place, it is important that there be an understanding of what might occur at a meeting. That’s why Gift of Life Donor Program requires that the donor family and recipient write several letters to build a relationship through correspondence before meeting. Both must express an interest in sharing contact information and meeting. At that point, Family Support Services will send Consent and Release forms.
Once the signed forms are received, personal information will be shared to facilitate direct communication.

 

MAKE A LASTING IMPRESSION WITH A PLANNED GIFT TO GIFT OF LIFE FAMILY HOUSE THIS SEASON

By | September 13th, 2017

Have you ever wondered how the people and charities you care about will fair when you are no longer here to help them?

A good way to make certain that your values live on is by writing down what’s important to you. Another is by making provisions in your estate plan to ensure your charitable support continues.

By including the Family House in your will/bequest you can help to ensure that the Family House is able to maintain their affordable fees and broad array of services for all who need support— now and in the future. It is an easy and simple way that you can support the future of the Family House, and continue care for transplant patients and families. Bequests can be a percentage of the
remainder of your estate or a specific dollar amount. If you already have prepared a will, you can simply add a codicil amending it to include the Family House.

IS YOUR WILL DUE FOR AN UPDATE?

Here area few reasons that individuals or couples may need to update their will:

• A change in marital status
• The birth or adoption of a child or grandchild
• The death of an individual included in your will
• Retirement or relocation to another state
• A change in assets
• The start of a new business
• New tax laws

Jay and Pat Souder, Legacy Society Members

 

ALREADY INCLUDED THE FAMILY HOUSE IN YOUR WILL?

Let us know so we can celebrate with you now! Enjoy recognition today as a Legacy Society member. Donors who notify us that they have made arrangements for planned gifts will be recognized as members of our prestigious Legacy Society. Visit www.GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org for more information.

 

TO DISCUSS MAKING A PLANNED GIFT TO GIFT OF LIFE FAMILY HOUSE OR IF YOU HAVE ALREADY NAMED US IN YOUR WILL, please contact Sara Cohen, Development Manager at 267-546-9812 oremail scohen@giftoflifefamilyhouse.org. Please consult your attorney, tax advisor or financial advisor before making a bequest or updating your estate plan.

 

Alicia Hoover – 13th Annual Kidney Open Golf Outing

By | August 29th, 2017

On August 28, 2017, Alicia Hoover, a former Family House guest, delivered a warm heartfelt speech about her transplant journey. She also described how Gift of Life Family House supported her and her family throughout the whole process. Read below as Alicia addressed the attendees of the 13th Annual Kidney Open Golf Outing.

“First of all, I would like to thank you all for allowing me to be a part of this amazing fundraising event. The family house has done so much for myself and my family over the last few years. They have become and continue to be a second family to all of us.
My father and I were both diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. This lung disease is terminal. After diagnosis life expectancy is on average 2-4 years. The only treatment currently available is a lung transplant.

On March 1, 2013 two days before my dad’s 46th birthday he received his call and was on his way to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia to receive his new set of lungs. The transplant was successful, however after a 6 month recovery in the hospital many complications my dad lost his battle and passed away on August 21,2013.
At the time of his passing, I was almost 5 months pregnant with my 3rd child. From that point forward I was on oxygen full time. I went as high as 20 liters of oxygen at some points just to walk across the living room. I ended up going into respiratory failure and having an emergency c-section at only 32 weeks in my pregnancy. I delivered a healthy 4lb baby boy. We named him Chance Edward. After 2 weeks in the NICU Chance came home with us to join his big brother Jace and his sister Kyrstin.

Less than a year later I was ready to begin my transplant journey. I was evaluated and placed on the list at Temple University in Philadelphia awaiting a double lung transplant. I waited about 1 ½ years and finally my call came. I received my transplant on February 29,2016. As you can tell my surgery was a success. During all of these surgeries and appointments my mom and my husband, Dave, stayed at the Family House while we did our job in the hospital on the road to recovery from our transplants.

The Family House offers so much to its patrons that stay there. We have met and continue to meet so many amazing people waiting on transplants or recovering from their transplants. And it’s not just the patients, it is their family and loved ones as well. The Family House allows all these people to come together and create a great support system for the patients but also for the caregivers. I have been on both ends and I truly believe the caregivers have a way harder job than the patient in my eyes. The Family House offers support groups for the caregivers which is a huge necessity. The staff will go above and beyond for any one of us staying there.

They are genuine and care about all the families that come through there. To them you are not just a number. They know you. They ask how your children are doing back home. They know you by name. I love going there and meeting so many people, sharing our stories, eating dinner with so many people who are stronger than they ever thought they could be. I am thankful for the Family House as it has not just offered a place of shelter for my family but provided me with a whole other family that I love and care about as if they were my own blood relatives. Thank you to all of you for your time and generous donations that benefit this amazing home for so many people. Without the Family House there would be patients and their families lost among the health care system not knowing which way to go. The Family House gives them a sense of direction and allows them to meet others that are going through the same situations so they tend to guide one another on each journey. All of you are amazing for being here today and if you take anything from what I have said today, please walk away knowing that the money you raised today is going to an amazing cause for some incredibly strong individuals. You are making it possible for the Family House to offer an environment that is safe to people going through extremely rough times in their lives and again for that, I thank you.”

 
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