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A Salute to Our Volunteers

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As you may know, last week was National Volunteer Week.  This started in 1974, and more than just a time to celebrate those who volunteer, it is a time to share our passion for civic-mindedness with others.  Local leaders, our elected officials, and even our presidents have shared in this passion.

“Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other.  If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large.”

That was Gandhi.

And we’ve certainly seen a good deal of happiness over the last thirty years.  It’s ironic, because our guests come to us with fear and uncertainty.  But our volunteers are able to bring happiness through games, hot meals, music, and sometimes by helping to spruce things up around Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond.  Last year, they gave over 13,000 hours of their time doing just that:  Spreading happiness.  We see the results when our guests smile, and hear it when there is laughter coming from the children’s floor, or when someone says, “Thank You” as they prepare to return home.

Individuals have given much of their time, but our groups are the secret treasure around The House.  93 different volunteer groups have helped to provide comfort over the last year, and brought their happiness with them.  Church groups like Church of Christ at Three Chopt; professional associations like the Virginia Society of CPA’s; businesses like Spotts Fain:  they’ve all contributed.  The Junior League of Richmond has hosted over 20 events at The House.  They’re regulars.

Much like your donations, gifts of time and commitment allow us to continue, and the gift of compassion allows us to thrive.  We could not exist without the dedication of our volunteers.  And that spirit is contagious.

When your friends like a certain type of music, you tend to like it also.  We watch movies based on the recommendations of our friends and colleagues.  We eat the food that our parents made, and vote the way our parents voted.  In a social experiment, a man in a mall opened a door for someone, and researchers tracked the number of people who returned the favor.  Those who had been extended the courtesy were exponentially more likely to extend that courtesy to someone else.  They paid it backwards, but paid it nonetheless.  We like to think that when our volunteers return to their homes and families and jobs, they speak highly of their experience, and the satisfaction of providing happiness to someone in need at Hospital Hospitality House.  And they tell two friends.  Then they tell two friends.  And so on, and so on.

Thank you to our many volunteers.  We are eternally grateful for your part in providing a home away from home for our guests.  We look forward to seeing many more of you soon.

For more information about how you can volunteer at The House, click here.

Categories : Volunteering
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A Pathway to Healing

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People come to us for one reason:  They or a loved one are in medical crisis and need someplace to rest during treatment.  Around 150 guests call Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond “home” on any given evening.  And that’s very much our mission – to create a “home away from home.”

The benefits of a stay at the Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond go far beyond finances and temporary housing. Hospital Hospitality House guests find in one another what guests at other temporary housing (like hotels) may lack: companionship.  In times of crisis, people in similar situations band together to overcome both physically and emotionally taxing situations. We see this happening every day here at the House, and firmly believe that something as simple as having someone to talk to is a crucial part of the healing process.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Studies have shown that physical contact can increase the body’s production of serotonin, a chemical neurotransmitter that is thought to contribute to feelings of happiness.  Physical contact also promotes the secretion of oxytocin, a hormone that has been shown to aid in physical healing.  As you can see, even a small gesture such as a loving embrace can make a world of difference.

One of our guests told us, “The staff and other guests were so helpful when my husband had his liver transplant.  They became my family.”  Another said, “I was there for a few weeks.  You were like family to us.”

It’s comments like these make us look forward to coming in to work each day even more than we already do.

We often have friends who stop by with gifts of donuts, paper goods, or food for our pantry.  We maintain a solid wish list of things that are always needed, and donations go a long way towards making things a bit easier.  When our friends stop by, they don’t dash in and out.  They say hello, and often stay for a while to help prepare a meal or play a board game. Although they’re technically our friends, we view and treat them as family.

We’re also reliant on friends for funding.  We’re the largest Hospitality House in the nation that exists solely on donations.  Your donations recently helped to pay for the replacement of some aging air conditioning.  Our new cooling tower is much more efficient and environmentally friendly, and should keep our guests comfortable for many years to come.

Closing the streets around our building for an entire day to lift tons of equipment 7-stories caused quite a commotion.  In addition to our volunteers and staff, many of our guests took some time to enjoy a moment of good weather and take in the spectacle. This brought our Hospital Hospitality House family even closer for the better part of a day.image_2

A week ago, we walked past our library and parlor areas while pondering the thousands of appreciative guests who’ve passed through over the years, thankful for a respite from the worries of ill health.  This quiet workspace for our volunteer social workers and librarian has always been a particularly peaceful area of the House.  We remarked about how peaceful we felt whenever we walked down that particular corridor, and our volunteer librarian replied, “I understand.  It’s a pathway to healing.”

Perhaps that’s what we are.  A bit of respite, a bit of family, a home away from home, and most importantly, a pathway to healing.

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Help us Thrive

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When we first started out, we were in an eight-room brownstone with just 28 beds.  We were founded by the MCV Hospital Auxiliary in 1984, and that makes us one of the oldest hospitality houses in America.  But the need for housing during a medical crisis was overwhelming, so in 1994 we moved.  We currently live in a 112-room former hotel – our size makes us the 2rd largest hospitality house in the country. But YOU make us the largest hospitality house in America that survives solely on donations.

Pretty much everything in Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond has been donated.  We don’t receive state funds or have a big corporate sponsor, so we always need your help.

Last year our volunteers selflessly gave over 13,000 hours to assist our guests.  And we have a remarkable staff.  To keep things going at Hospital Hospitality House Richmond, we have around 30 paid employees, and around a third of them are part-time.  They partner with our volunteers to cook meals (with donated food) in a kitchen (with donated pots and pans) served on plates (donated).   Our guests play games (donated or led by volunteers) or read a book or magazine (donated), or do laundry (donated detergent).

When a guest comes to our door in a time of need, we provide.  We ask a $15 donation for a night of lodging, but that’s a suggestion, and we’ve never turned anyone away for lack of funds. Every guest is treated like family and they consider HHH their home while they’re here.

We are open every day.  Seven days a week.  Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas.  24 hours a day.  This means that our lights need to be on all the time, and that takes money.  Doing laundry and cleaning up after meals takes water, and that costs money.  As we’ve seen recently, it can get cold in the winter, and Richmond summers can certainly get hot, so our guests will need heat and air conditioning.  These are requirements that can’t be fulfilled by a volunteer and won’t fit in a casserole dish.  They are needs that can only be met with your financial support.

Every donation counts.  You can send us a check, we honor major credit cards, or you can give online.  If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford a larger gift, we can help you to provide the maximum benefit to both you and Hospitality House.  If your family has been touched by medical crisis, you can honor the memory of your loved one with an honorarium.

No matter how large or small your gift is, we are grateful.  While our volunteers and staff give selflessly, being here for our guests isn’t free.  We couldn’t provide a home away from home for families in medical crisis without your generosity.

Click Here to Help us Thrive.

Click Here to see a list of items always in short supply.

Click Here to see how your group can volunteer at Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond.

Categories : Volunteering
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Have a Heart

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There are a wide variety of guests who stay with us at Hospital Hospitality House.  They are young and old, small and large, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and from all over the world.  Our guests have had medical emergencies, are dealing with a genetic defect, fighting cancer, and more.  Ill health isn’t very discriminating, you see.

Some of the folks who stay with us are awaiting a new organ, either due to illness, injury, or disease.  A while back, we met an amazing woman who was awaiting a heart.  When a heart replacement first became a reality, the device that kept you alive during the wait for a donor organ was about the size of a small room.  This woman was one of the first in the country to test-drive an innovation from VCU – the Freedom Driver.  It was (and is!) a heart machine that pumps for you, and it fits in a small backpack.  While this lady was waiting for a donor heart, she took her Freedom Driver to Waynesboro to do some fly-fishing.  That’s about 100 miles from us.

That being said, it’s American Heart Month.

Spearheaded by the American Heart Association, and begun 50 years ago, Heart Month uses February to educate and raise awareness about heart-related illnesses and disease.  The American Heart Association, founded in 1924, has become our nation’s leading advocate for promoting heart health.

This year, President Obama issued an official proclamation recognizing February as the month to improve our heart health.  He and the First Lady encourage all of us to wear a bit of red to show our solidarity and promote the message.

And it’s a real issue.

Each year, around 600,000 people die of heart disease.  That’s 1 in 4 deaths.  It’s the number one killer of women, and kills more than cancer.  While some are the result of the infirmities of old age, some are entirely preventable.

The easiest way to start protecting your heart is with a healthy diet – one that is low in salt, and includes lots of healthy fruits and vegetables.  The second way is to get a bit of exercise.  We’re not recommending that everyone go out and join a gym, and you may need to consult with your doctor first, but the Centers for Disease Control suggest a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.  You can start slowly, and then build up to that marathon or iron man race.

Lastly, schedule a checkup.  A trained professional can evaluate your blood pressure, monitor your heart rate, and suggest a proper course of action.

Former President Clinton, known for his addiction to sweet and fatty foods, discovered in 2004 that he had coronary artery disease.  Fearing a looming massive heart attack, his physicians suggested and performed quadruple bypass surgery.  He began a more regimented exercise schedule, switched to a vegetarian diet, and told CNN that he felt better and had more energy than ever.  His weight dropped to 185; a number he’d not seen since he was 13.

As much as we enjoy our time with our guests here at Hospital Hospitality House, and are thankful for being able to provide a home away from home, we wish we weren’t needed.  Take stock of what you have today, and take steps to protect your heart.  Truth be told, we hope that we don’t see you.

Categories : Health Talk
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Save the Date! 2014 Fancy Hat Party!

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One of our most fun-filled and zaniest fundraising events is our annual Fancy Hat Party, attended by over 500 chapeau-wearing people.  While some find the craziest hat they can, many make their own creative headwear, which we all wear to a special luncheon that raises funds for Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond.  We always have a guest speaker who goes on to help us judge our hats, and during past years we’ve welcomed the likes of Debbie Phelps, Jenna Bush, Lynn Scherr, and fashion guru Steven Cojocaru.  2014 will bring our 17th Fancy Hat Party, and will be Friday, May 9th, at The Commonwealth Club.

We’re also pleased to announce this year’s special guest, Karen Mills!  Karen was told that at 5’2″ she would certainly never be a basketball player.  Not only did she make the team at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, she led the nation in assists, had her jersey retired, and became the first woman inducted into their Hall of Fame!  For the past 20+ years, she’s been perfecting her own brand of comedy, and has turned her own experiences as a cancer survivor into a mission to overcome the disease with hope and humor.  This is a message that she’ll share with us in May!

Start designing now, and click here to buy tickets!

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Categories : Special Events
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BrinkleyStacy001_810_300It was with some sadness that we said goodbye to our CEO, Babs Jackson, recently.  Babs had been with us since 2000, and she oversaw much of our growth during the past decade.

But we were pleased to welcome a new addition to our family on January 6 – a new leader for Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond:  Stacy Brinkley as our new President and CEO!

Stacy brings over 20 years of management experience in the healthcare industry, is intimately familiar with non-profit organizations, has led large facilities, and has an extensive knowledge of marketing and branding.  One could say that she’s a well-rounded executive, yet uniquely suited to lead our team.  She grew up in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but has called Virginia home for almost 25 years.  We hope that you’ll join us in making her at home at The House.

Stacy currently lives in Richmond with her husband and 3 daughters.

Categories : Volunteering
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Another Year of Fantastic Volunteers!

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Shortly before Christmas, we did a little something to thank the many volunteers who donate their time and energy to take some of the burden of medical crisis off of our guests at Hospital Hospitality House.  We hosted our annual Volunteer Brunch to thank them for the over 14,000 man-hours they spent with us.  That’s a lot of volunteering!  And it wasn’t just time spent serving meals:

  • Stafford Limousine donated two nights of service for folks to enjoy Richmond’s Tacky Light Tour.
  • NAWIC donated almost $500 worth of bubbles (soaps, detergents and toiletries) and even brought along Santa to spread some joy.
  • The band Offering performed music during Christmas Dinner.
  • Groups of volunteers joined us on both Thanksgiving and Christmas to serve meals donated by the family of Arthur Korn in his memory.
  • Area High School student Jordan Levine organized her classmates to make 300 Holiday Poppers for our guests.
  • VCU’s Department of Radiation held a fundraiser that brought in funds to help us grow The House.


There are almost too many groups and individuals who gave of their time last year, and if we’ve not mentioned you, know that we’re grateful in our hearts.  Some other groups that came by to hold dinners were:

  • Hanover Youth Service Council
    Three Chopt Church of Christ
    SpottsFain, P.C
    Church of Gods and Saints of Christ
    Abundant Praise Christian Fellowship
    Midlothian Christian Fellowship
    VCU Community Health and Wellness Network
    Afton Chemicals
    Westhampton Junior Womens Group
    The Junior League
    Crosstrain Community Church
Categories : Volunteering
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There are many events that we host and enjoy during the course of our year, and they tend to center on one goal:  Raising much needed funds to help our guests at Hospital Hospitality House.  It takes money to pay the utilities, purchase new linens, provide snacks, and more.  We’re the largest Hospitality House in the country that survives solely through donations, and we count on you to help to make that happen.

Folks around Central Virginia particularly like our annual SAVOR Dinner.  We all get dressy, we invite some world-class chefs from around the world, have an auction, and enjoy some amazing food and music.  Each year, Virginia Living Magazine holds a vote on the Best of Virginia that highlights everything from shops to resorts to sporting events.  We were a finalist for “Best Annual Charity Event,” and it was an honor to have had so many vote for us.  We’ve been nominated again this year, and as our event has grown with each SAVOR Dinner, we hope that you’ll take a moment to cast your ballot.  We need all the help that we can get, and being in Virginia Living Magazine, and perhaps winning the award!) would go a long way towards making SAVOR the premier event in our region!

You can go to Virginia Living Magazine and cast your ballot here.

Categories : Fundraisers
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Thank You for Your Support in 2013!

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As we ring in 2014, we have to say a BIG THANK YOU for supporting Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond in 2013.  We especially appreciate your donations to our annual fund.  With your help, we provided over 32,000 nights of lodging to over 6,500 people!

A special thank you goes to the following corporations and foundations:

Ancillary Services Management LLC
BAE Systems Employee Community Fund, Inc.
Bevans Oyster Company Inc.
Broad Street Veterinary Hospital
Communications Specialists, Inc.
The Community Foundation
Costco Wholesale
Diamond Springs Water, Inc.
Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust
Elis Olsson Memorial Foundation
Emily S. and Coleman A. Hunter Charitable Trust
Ernst & Young, LLP
Heloair, Inc.
The J. Edwin Treakle Foundation, Inc.
Luther Memorial School
Macerich Management Company
The Matt Davis Foundation
MCV Foundation
Nunnally Charitable Lead Trust
The Reco Foundation
S.B. Cox, Inc.
Segway of Richmond
Tara Foundation, Inc.
TNT Automotive Leasing, Ltd.
Union First Market Bank
The Virginia Home
Warden Family Foundation
Whole Foods Market
The William H. John G. Emma Scott Foundation
Wolfgang Jasper Photography, Howldog LLC
Workforce Resources, Inc.

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Twas the Night Before Christmas

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Twas the night before Christmas and all through The House
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The guests were all sleeping tucked snug in their beds
While visions of healthiness danced in their heads.

Families and loved ones nestled in too
And dreamed of a holiday a little less blue.
“Soon we’ll be home and no longer here!
(though the friends that we’ve made will remain quite dear)”

One spot in The House still had a small rustle
For down in the kitchen there remained some bustle.
Volunteers cleaned up from a holiday meal
For our guests – who enjoyed how that made them feel.

The Volunteers scrubbed and they left not a spot
From the ovens and glasses to the very last pot.
Til at last they were done and they quietly massed
For a last minute prayer for fellowship past.

They did it for free without praise or for fame
For every good person has some play in this game.
As they went to their homes to watch their children dance
They understood that not everyone had the same chance.

Then late in the night there were at last no more sounds.
That was when Santa began making his rounds.
He stopped at each door and peeked in with a wink
And whispered, “More love you than you probably think.”

That evening he didn’t leave ponies or trains.
No dolls or new gadgets or remote controlled planes.
Instead he left wishes left gently in each ear
For a very well Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond

Categories : Volunteering
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