Thursday, December 10, 2009

If I Had Known Then, What I Know Now … Would I Do It Again?

It’s 10:30 pm…the phone rings, and, the Social Worker on duty at UVA Medical Center is asking if we can help a father with his two little girls with lodging for two or three nights.
  • The Case: His wife was transported from a distance of four and half hours to UVA Medical Center for emergency surgery. Because of the children he cannot stay at the UVA Hospitality House. And, he doesn’t have the money for a hotel room. The few dollars he had went for the gasoline in order to drive to Charlottesville. He was also not able to find a babysitter so he had to bring the girls. He does not speak English, and is part-time employed at $8.00/hour.
The process works like this. I call one of the four hotels which is working with us to see who has a room available. I realize that it is going to be hard to place since there is a major concert event in town, and most hotels are booked beyond capacity. I pour another cup of coffee and begin to make the necessary calls. On my third attempt I am able to obtain a room for two nights with the instructions to call back in two days as a third night might be a possibility.

Then I call the social worker back to give her the confirmation number for the hotel. The next couple of hours are occupied with checking bank accounts, paying outstanding hotel bills, going through numerous emails to find out who made a donation, making notes for the next morning to write grant proposals, while uttering at the same time, “We need more money!” In October and November alone, the requests for help were up approximately 200%.

As I refill my cup of coffee again, I thought about that day in October 2008 when we made the decision to form Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS) in order to help those people whom we classified as having “unmet needs.” Those unmet needs are well described on our website (

I remember sitting with Wade and Sam discussing how we cannot let those people, and some of them with children, continue to sleep in the lobby of the hospital or in the garage if they even have a car. They are not homeless people. These are people caught up in the injustice of the American financial and medical systems. They could not predict in advance that either they, themselves, or their loved one, would end up in a critical situation in the hospital from either and accident or illness.

We are speaking of those individuals who reside more than 60 miles or more from UVA Medical Center. Most are from two to three hundred miles from Charlottesville, Virginia. How hard can it be to form a charity? How hard can it be to give people the evidence that help is needed so the money can just “fly in?”

So we formed this 501 (3)(c) non-religious, nonprofit public charity with no paid staff and ready to respond 24/7 with four telephone contact numbers available day or night to reach us.

After seven months and many thousands of dollars for attorney, accountant, IRS, filing fees, etc., we finally received IRS approval. The last eight months have been trying. The money is NOT “flying in,” but rather traveling by “slow boat.” We are grateful that we have managed so far to respond to every request for help.

The small base of donors who have so graciously signed on with monthly donations, as well as the contributions from friends and family, and with the help of our own personal monies included, we have managed to accomplish the impossible.

It’s now early in the morning. The bills are paid. I am tired and have a slight headache, and I’m asking myself if I had known then what I know now, how hard it is and how hard it was, to do this necessary work, would I do it again?

Just then the phone rings again, and the social worker is on with another request. A cancer out-patient is being dropped off on Saturday for a Monday appointment. The patient’s ride to Charlottesville must return home and come back after the weekend for the patient. Unless an arrangement for a room can be secured, the patient will have no place to stay.

Thank goodness; it’s after the concert and rooms are most probably available.

After securing the room and calling the social worker back with a reservation number, she says, “Thank you so much for helping. The patient could not have come to UVA for the treatment without your help. God bless you!”

Well, there was my answer! Would I do it again? YOU BETCHA … YES YES YES!!! … now I have another cup of coffee.

Blessings…Rev. Elisheva Clegg

Saturday, November 7, 2009

When a social worker says “very sick”…it’s critical!

Oct 30 The social worker said, “The wife of a very sick fellow in neuro-intensive has been in hospitality house (HH) for a few days, and simply can’t afford the fee for the extra days. She feels she needs to be near her husband. With his condition, it would really be a relief if she could remain for the week, perhaps six days. She’s about 150 miles from home. Can you assist?”

I suppose one could review this situation and without further info, consider suggesting a return home and return later, but quite literally a round trip home one time by car would entail a gas cost of about $40. When there is room in the hospitality house, that’s four(4) nights to stay and monitor a loved one. It’s a no-brainer to stay if $40 is available to assist.

In addition, one needs to know some of every back story to realize why running back and forth simply is not affordable in so many cases. For one thing, the patient in this case is “very sick.” He is now without work while being treated in intensive care at the hospital. He is the only person employed in the family. This is not a family with savings to run home and back. Indeed, it has been clarified that the wife has already reached her limits for staying in a $10 per night room. Perhaps she needs that amount daily just to eat. The balancing act can be extremely stressful on a family member whose other half is fighting for life just across the street.

If the hospitality house had been filled, and no available beds for the next few days, then this same situation would necessarily be limited to placement in a commercial hotel room for about $50 per night, and that stay would have to be limited to about 2-4 days. As you can readily see, the situation for funding becomes critical when space at HH is simply not available.

Families in such stress do have to make a plan with other family members or friends in these situations, especially if the patient remains for an extended time. But, as we have experienced, sometimes there is no one else to assist, while the waiting becomes excruciating. IHS is providing that extra measure of relief and a treasured measure of time.

When you’ve read the “vision” statement on the website, you will understand why the idea of a large farm house to be able to provide some extra flexibility and access to a kitchen with nutritious meals has to remain an active goal. A house with six rooms initially, then fifteen, then who knows. But consider that HH only has 31 rooms. Fifteen more rooms at a location which can expand would provide for an increase in space of fifty percent. That’s a huge increase. Next year we will pursue ideas of how to realize that goal…but for now we are using every penny to secure nightly sleeping arrangements as requested by the UVA Social Worker staff.

This holiday season please squeeze us on your gift list … and then think of us monthly. October has been the busiest month for needing our assistance. The winter months are the tough ones. We could really use your contribution. Allow us to remove some of the stress so that another family member can bring comfort and security when it is needed the most.

Blessings…T. Wade and Elisheva

Monday, October 26, 2009

Treasured Moments

Sometimes I just stop and say thanks for a treasured moment..this happened again this week.

The social worker called from the UVA Cancer Center and said I have a young woman from northern Virginia who needs to be kept over until Monday for another diagnosis. She’s here alone; she can remain. Her ride must return home. Can you help with these five days for her fee at hospitality house? I said yes. Does she have food money? The answer: She has $3.00 total.

On Thursday we sent a note to Dr. Weber at the Cancer Center for advice on what to buy in frozen dinners for a patient in order to maintain a proper diet to do no harm. I am aware of ingredients, since cancer has more than touched this family. He e-mailed back with a note that the Cancer Center Dietitian would relate information. The response came quickly and off I went to buy 40 dinners (Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, etc.) for delivery to HH to supplement their can food and mixes (non-perishables) which are provided through food drives.

Those forty dinners will provide an opportunity for easily prepared hot meals for this particular patient and a few more patients at Hospitality House without funds over the next few days. That's 40 meals, an hour to shop, an hour to ice them down for travel and delivery to town… and the task was secured.

I was delighted with the kind note from Dr. Michael Weber and follow-up from Dietitian Carole Havrila; but, there was another person in the mix today who made me stop and take a breath.

While checking out at the local food market, the young man bagging the frozen dinners said, “Wow, you must really love those pot pies and dinners.” I smiled and said, “They are for a charity in town.” The young man stopped for a moment, reached into his pocket and handed me five dollars and asked me to buy a few dinners from him.

This kid, I learned is working two jobs, and going to school and just handed me enough money to buy a few more meals. It was such an easy, lovely reaction. It was also unsolicited and unexpected. I waited to feel the emotion once outside.

Winter is coming. The increase in lodging requests is rising. Many of those stayovers are waiting for a doctor to see them in the Cancer Center. Many will not have funds for a hot meal. This holiday season try to initiate a habit of just a few dollars for this very intimate and effective direct and immediate assistance program. Your generosity is needed. Your check, even the smallest, is tax deductible.

Blessings…Rev. Elisheva

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Whole Foods is supporting IHS during October 2009

This month without knowing when the start time would be, Whole Foods Market, 300 Shoppers World Court, Charlottesville, VA 22901, placed us on their list of supportive charities, and for the whole month your visits to Whole Foods can benefit this charity. Therefore, please allow me to explain: When a customer brings with them their reusable bags, you receive a nickel back BUT YOU HAVE AN OPTION. You can take that nickel off your bill, or receive a wooden nickel and give it to a non-profit featured in the store. There is a box located in the front of the store to hold these wooden nickels and they can really add up. Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum signed up for the program, but we did not know how quickly we would be on the list.

This is just another way to develop funds for hotel rooms especially. October is turning into a very active time for lodging. As of October 20 (just twenty days) we have reserved during the month no less than forty-six (46 nights) in commercial hotels or hospitality house. 31 nights in hospitality house and 15 in commercial hotels. The month still has 10 days remaining.

Never has a wooden nickel meant so much for so many. Get your reusable bags and go shop at Whole Foods Market, and take your refund in wooden nickels for our box in the front of the store..

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Children with Families in Turmoil

The social worker on the phone said, “I have a situation which needs your attention. I’m not sure anyone else can make a difference.” My response, “Let’s talk.”

This social worker is a no nonsense, excellent judge of situations which can evolve into more drastic circumstances. As a social worker in the critical care arena at UVA Medical Center, she understands the tense situations which can arise. This was one of those situations.

She said that there had been a physical confrontation between members of a family in a patient’s room. The wife of the patient just had a shoving match in the patient’s room with the patient’s Mother and Father. The atmosphere was really tense, and if necessary security can be summoned to control and settle the matter.

She went on to indicate, in conjunction with the hall nurse, that the worrisome part of the family confrontation is that the wife has no place to stay and she has a four year old boy who is witnessing all of this dispute, and also worrying about his Dad. It was a setting which was giving everyone real concern, yet the Mother and child have no place to get away for quiet time and allow the child to be removed from the environment with his grandparents.

“Can you help?” she asked.

I immediately obtained a room for the Mother and the boy for that evening. The Mother was told that this opportunity was to give her time to take the boy and relax and remove themselves from the conflict of the moment.

This was one of those unexpected situations for which there is generally no simple answer or most certainly no opportunity available for temporary relief of such a stressful situation. Fortunately, a very alert social worker allowed her concerns to reach out to us as a potential helping hand, but especially for the sake of a child hearing arguments in the presence of a family in turmoil and a father in critical condition.

The flexibility to offer relief for the child was a no brainer, and because of the charity’s flexibility to assist even temporarily, I am told that the Mother was able to plan what was best for the present dilemma.

The ability to project lodging even for a temporary overnight situation can be the result of so many scenarios. This particular situation called for a social worker to think outside the box and reach out for a chance for a child to be removed from harmful family exchanges which could escalate and leave such negative memories, especially with a parent at death’s door.

Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum is that opportunity for UVA Medical Center social workers to explore as a chance to assist patients and families when no other opportunity exists. Contributions, even in the smallest amounts, allow for maintaining a vital route for assistance for just such moments. Moments that matter!

Your tax deductible contribution will allow for a continuation of this vitally flexible public charity, dedicated to serving UVA Medical Center patients and families who travel over great distances, too often without adequate funds to balance for lodging, food, transportation and even co-pay assistance. Although our intent is to fill specific unmet needs for temporary assistance for this group of visitors to Charlottsville, we have allowed for some flexibility to reach out as funds allow, and assist others who are seeking to serve these same people. Sometimes there are gaps which exist when no other charitable or hospital entity can assist with immediacy, based on their procedural restraints, monetary limitations, and lack of space regarding lodging. IHS is only restrained when funds are limited. That is why your contributions are so very important, even if as little as $10-20 monthly.

Thank you for listening.


Rev. Elisheva Clegg
Chaplain Volunteer & Founding Member, Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum

A public Charity, independent of, serving UVA Medical Center

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What Did I Say That Made a 7-year old Boy Squeeze ....

What did I say that made a 7-year old boy squeeze my leg with such delight and say ”thank you,” as if he had just received a Christmas present?

What I said was, “Tonight you will be sleeping in a hotel room in town.” Why did it make such a difference to a small boy? Because he had been sleeping in the UVA Medical Center garage in the car with his Mother and 8 month old sibling. For three days!

No single incident in my experience as a volunteer overnight Chaplain at the UVA Medical Center brings home the absolute sense of contributing to the well-being of a family than the opportunity to assist this struggling family.

On that night I had exchanged words with a young woman in the elevator who inquired about entry into the garage and directions after hours. I had offered some information, and she continued on her way. Little did I know that my next summons within minutes by beeper would bring me into closer contact with this same young woman within the hour.

The beeper call from the overnight social worker requested that I come to her location. The social worker had actually tried to reach me at home around midnight, only to be told that I was the overnight Chaplain on duty, and could be reached personally in the medical center. The social worker was very happy that I was so near, for she was very anxious to speak with someone to assist her.

Upon arrival, the social worker told me about a mother with children staying in a car, and that she had just learned of the situation. The young mother had rushed to be with her husband who had been air lifted into the hospital. The patient had been without work for over a year, finally found a construction job, and on the first day had slipped off a roof and broken both hips. His wife had hurried from hundreds of miles away to be near him and with no one to immediately assist with the children simply placed them in the car and came running.

The wife had anticipated having enough money for eating, a few days in a motel, travel, etc, but the funds simply were insufficient. Hotel rooms were beyond her expectation, and she decided to make the best by having snacks and baby items in the car, so she could be near until some decisions could be made. There was no immediate family to assist. The Hospitality House with its $10/per night rate for families was not available to her since there is a restriction which does not allow children.

When the young woman was summoned, I greeted her with her baby and the little boy, and indicated that she and the children would be staying in the Holiday Inn University in town tonight, and perhaps extra nights, in order for her to refresh and collect her thoughts for a plan to return home and seek assistance for the children. This way she could return and stay in the Hospitality House without limitations.

This was when the small boy grabbed my leg, holding onto me and expressing a smiling “thank you.” This was a time when one’s composure is tested. There is a need to touch and squeeze and reciprocate, which I did; but there is also a sense of wanting to openly weep that this family, as with many, who endure such hardship on top of such stress, and silently experience the sense of nowhere to turn.

I have seen many families over the last three years, while serving in the Chaplaincy program, who rush to Charlottesville to be near a critically injured or ill family member. They are desperate to be near their loved one, often neglecting to make a plan, and far too often without adequate funds to balance their lodging, eating and travel expenses.

The social workers at UVA Medical Center continue to have my deepest admiration. They are sensitive to such situations, and sometimes only through their inquiry do they discover the tragic situations whereby families will neglect themselves and sleep in cars, waiting rooms, and literally exist on soda and crackers. It happens frequently…and this night made our role as a charity, independent of the Medical Center which can react quickly and efficiently to ease this family’s plight, such a significant contributor.

Generally, a social worker will call me at home and indicate that the UVA Hospitality House has full occupancy, or a family member with a child has arrived and they barely have enough to eat, and most certainly no lodging money. Of course the one restriction which seems to be most prominent with on-going concern is the fact that children under 18 are not allowed to stay in the Hospitality House. This is generally not a matter explored by a family member who is terrified for a loved one in ER or Critical Care. The urgency to simply get to Charlottesville is overwhelming. This person who may die is their Dad, Mom, child or closest friend.

The reality is that the UVA Hospitality House has no plans to expand; nor does the Ronald McDonald House, which assists families who have a child in the Medical Center as patients. The limitations will continue to be evident, and the need for a Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum ( a public, non-religious, no stock, nonprofit charity with no paid staff) to BE that extra safety net. There is no other net at this time to catch these children who have come along for a very desperate ride.

Therefore, when we say that your tax deductible contribution of $5, $10, $20 or more monthly as a consistent contribution can make a difference…that’s an understatement. We have three generous hotels who allow a $50 per night rate, and presently only about 25 people are contributing to keep the rooms, food as needed, and travel and co-pay assistance available.

The three people, who are this charity, devote full time to securing the funds, working the phones, expanding opportunities, and using our personal income to make this opportunity happen. The numbers who come to Charlottesville with the needs expressed in this short article are growing and there is no reason to believe it will cease.

Consider what you can do. We promise that no one who shows up in Charlottesville in need of temporary lodging, food, travel with a loved one in the Medical Center, or a patient who needs a cancer diagnosis and can not come here for a 1-2 day stay because he or she can not afford lodging, will be left without assistance. That promise can be met and sustained with your participation.

We have a very real request: Please never allow me to look at another child and not be able to place him or her in a safe place for the night, and know that he or she is well nourished. This is generally only a temporary fix, but when it happens it is not a matter of discussion; it is urgent. I can not take these lovely faces home. I need to be able to continue to provide for these desperate times, which are frequent.

The holidays are coming; make a pledge with your children of $5 or more for each month. $5 X 12 months = $60. That’s one night in a hotel for a family and food. It only takes a few giving families with similar contributions to allow that necessary stay over of a few days for these families in need.

The stress for these visitors to our community is often unbearable. Too often their worst nightmares come true, as they plan for a life with more challenges than they have ever known. While they are here, their well-being is in OUR hands. ME AND YOU…WE ARE THE KEEPERS.

The people at UVA Hospitality House and Ronald McDonald House are the keepers also. This new charity has been established to meet the overflow when the established entities simply can not provide. These original providers have a limited number of rooms, a very real situation. Who will assist with the unmet needs? This was our question, and the answer is our charity.

Right now, I am seeking assistance for the immediate matters at hand; but our vision for the future must encompass an ability to provide a comfort zone with active involvement for those who come with inadequate funds to balance for lodging, food, travel, etc…and then learn that the closest person in their world is never coming home. This is the juncture when so much more is needed than a hotel room and meals. Much more.

Please read the Vision statement in our website ( and it will be clear that we are looking ahead to establish a real place to meet real needs. Thank you for listening.

Blessings…Chaplain Elisheva

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How You Can Help with Our Cause thru Your Cause ...

Some quick updates from the past two months are in order. If you ever want to know what preceded some of our projects, then simply scroll back through the few blog entries. Also, if you or a new reader to this charity needs a quick history of why we initiated this effort, simply scroll back to the first blog entry of May 18, 2009 and begin to read. It’s a little wordy, but provides in just a few pages objectives and goals.

We have a rather urgent need for contributions for lodging funds at this writing. Presently we have only twenty (20) contributors, of whom many are making a dedicated monthly donation from $25-$100. Elisheva and I are included in this rather small base, as the largest contributor with our personal on-going allowance to couples to make a donation for a tax deduction as part of their wedding fee. We are even offering for some couples and their families an opportunity for a slightly increased ministerial fee, at least once monthly, which can allow for a total tax deduction for our ministerial service, but regretfully we can not provide that opportunity for every wedding.

During July 2009 IHS paid for 12 nights in commercial hotels and 17 nights at UVA Hospitality House. For August to date we owe for 12 nights in commercial hotels and 2 nights in UVA Hospitality House. These are the slow months.

During this period we diverted funds ($1000) to make sure we could make the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic contribution to satisfy narcotic medication needs for the July clinic at the Wise, VA Fairgrounds. There were 240 UVA Medical Center volunteers devoted to this event, and they served over 2,700 people who have no other source for being diagnosed for medical and dental necessities. Many of the follow-ups from that annual outdoor setting will be scheduled over the months ahead for Charlottesville and hotel rooms will be needed as hospitality house becomes fully occupied.

The time is also near for adding funds to the co-pay and transit assistance funds in the next month. If possible, your consideration of a small consistent monthly contribution of $10, $20, even more, would most certainly assist. We will continue to innovate and promote funding ideas, but we are indeed dependent on those friends who know us well, and our objectives on behalf of the UVA Medical Center patients and families who come from great distances under difficult circumstances.

Note: You may have received an earlier e-mail as one of the core friends of Elisheva and T. Wade Clegg about a new social networking idea. Forgive us for the repetition in that case, but it is such a worthwhile opportunity.

Our exploration of ways you can personally assist and extend our exposure

We have discovered a marvelous opportunity which allows for your personal involvement in promoting our charity. A new organizational website called "Your" allows you to create your own "cause" page which becomes a tool to send to others whom you feel might be interested in supporting IHS with a tax deductible contribution. From your short time to create this simple page, IHS can gain exposure to so many others through today's social networking system. In essence we are asking you to create a small testimonial as to why you believe in and support this charity. By forwarding your personal page to your friends, you are leaving it up to them whether they wish to participate or not. But, your personal touch leads to a validation no one else can supply.

The very simple instructions follow:

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Go to and in the SEARCH box at the right type "Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum" and press enter ...

  • On the "SIGN UP NOW" page that shows ... click on the charity "Start Your Cause for This Charity" button next to the IHS logo at the bottom of the page.
  • Then on the "SIGN UP PAGE" create a new membership for yourself and then follow the instructions to create your page.
  • If you need assistance, then feel free to call Sam McLawhorn directly at 434.589.6363 at home - or email him directly at He will be more than willing to help you with any problems you might encounter.

Here is Sam's personal YourCause page as a guide. The most important thing to remember is to create the "Description of Your Charity" and "Mission Statement" to reflect YOUR personal ideas and thoughts about what we are doing in regards to IHS. Click below now:

Once you have created your page, then here are some tips to help us with acquiring donations for IHS. Through your generous time creating a page, your time to propogate through your address book either through email, facebook or twitter - donations to your site will accrue directly and be deposited directly into the IHS account. This new and exciting way to acquire contributions will lead to a successful charity and at the same time help so many who need compassion, love and help.

Here are some helpful tips:
Email your Cause link (created when you compose your account), creating awareness toward your campaign.
Promote your Cause on social networking sites, informing others of your goals.
Sit back, relax, and know how much you have contributed to make life better on this planet :-) ....

For those individuals who would like to see our IRS Tax Exempt status, we can refer them to the home page of our website ( and click on the "tax exempt" hyperlink in the second paragraph. This will lead them to a PDF file image of the IRS Letter of approval. Also, for those familiar with the national clearinghouse, , from this site, they will find us listed with more detailed information and specifics. If you wish to make a contibution now please click this line.

Elisheva & T. Wade

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Initial Request for RAM Clinic assistance - MET!

We received a request in April from UVA Medical Center’s Director of Social Work for support for the Wise, VA Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic. Noel Dianas-Hughes asked if we could provide funds to support vouchers for medication (narcotics) for pain control, especially for dental work, at the RAM clinic from July 23-26, 2009. Support of up to $1000 was needed at that time.

IHS is pleased to announce that a check for that request was presented to Director Dianas-Hughes this past week for the RAM clinic fund, which also allows for any funds raised above the needed medications to be utilized for diagnostic tests for RAM patients who are not insured and mostly not employed.

If you are not familiar with the project in Wise, there were patients from past clinics who left the fairground setting following a dental procedure without money to pay for a pain control medication. Vouchers are issued so that patients can obtain their medications at area pharmacies in Wise, VA. Last year over 2,600 were treated in the fairgrounds at Wise, mostly by volunteer medical personnel from UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville and VCU Dental School in Richmond. Several hundred volunteers are preparing to travel for this year.

IHS is a nonprofit, non-religious, no stock, and with no paid staff, public charity, an approved 501(c)(3) organization, qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts. Contributions to IHS are deductible under section 170 of the IRS Code. Elisheva and T. Wade Clegg III of Palmyra, VA started this charity with the confidence that medical professionals and community interests will recognize its importance, and join us in making a very significant difference. You may designate your tax deductible check: For medication and diagnostic tests at Wise, VA RAM clinic, or allow your contribution to be used for immediate lodging, co-pay, transportation and food needs which are on-going.

Just today, as we write this July notice, a patient scheduled for cancer surgery from SW Virginia now has a hotel room for 3 days for her arrival and then for her husband and child to remain near her. Because of a child with special needs who can not be left alone, and must accompany the parents, the Hospitality House can not provide lodging. Therefore, the only alternative for emergency lodging for this short duration is IHS. We continue to make a difference.

Your support through cumulative contributions of $10, $25, and more will never allow anyone to leave the RAM clinic without a chance to obtain pain meds, or cause a patient to delay cancer surgery based on lack of funds for lodging.
Thanks so very much for your attentionThe Cleggs.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

May 2009 Notice and Project Alert

This one page notice provides latest participation in support of the UVA Medical Center. Beginning in April, now in May, we are funding two accounts in the UVA Medical Center Office of Social Work. One account pays for co-pays for Pay Range 1 (indigents) and the other account pays for local bus tickets for this same group for return home across town. These were unmet needs which encompass many local patients, but simply needed our earliest participation. It was simply too alarming to know that a patient could receive prescriptions, and not be able to meet the smallest co-pays, and then not have money for a bus ticket home in Charlottesville. We started where the need seemed most urgent, and we will fund these accounts monthly.

We have begun to assist those patients and families who cannot afford the $10 per night lodging offered by UVA Hospitality House. The first family stayed almost three weeks. It was a situation which involved three women visiting a dying brother who did not have the funds to stay during his last days. Our help allowed them to remain nearby at a pivotal time during their family’s sadness.

Project Alert: We received a request from UVA Medical Center’s Director of Social Work for support for the Wise, VA Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic. Noel Dianas-Hughes asked if we could provide funds to support vouchers for medication (narcotics) for pain control, especially for dental work at the RAM from July 23-26, 2009. Support of up to $1000 is needed. Vouchers are issued by pharmacists to patients at RAM that cannot be issued on site, so the patients can obtain their medications at area pharmacies in Wise, VA. Last year over 2,600 were treated in the fairgrounds at Wise, mostly by volunteer medical personnel from UVA Medical Center. 200 team members will be at RAM in July.

Your tax deductible contribution with a check for $10, $25, $50 or more, can quickly meet this need. For your convenience you may use our PayPal Donation button located on the “Donate Now” page by clicking here: .Remaining funds will be directed toward the other accounts.

Monday, May 18, 2009

We’re back with a Powerful New Vehicle for Good Works

There is a point in life when one is walking the talk, and it can be very consistent; but, then there is that vital intersection when one must LEAP! This message is about our faith in our contacts and friends and all others who feel the compassion for those truly faced with burdensome challenges in our community.

We can and have established a vehicle, a charity, and placed ourselves in the marketplace to channel an opportunity for others to make a difference. Our initial handout (4 pages) was printed and is available. That item is now presented for your further review with more facts and figures. It follows this introduction. I know this is a lot of reading in one blog offering, but initial education with substance is needed to sense the good works which this represents. And this my friends is the best idea we have had in years!

Last December was that point where we were having discussions with the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center Department of Social Work, Chief Chaplain, UVA Hospitality House and Ronald McDonald House, along with other supporting staff. Those discussions were about the numerous unmet needs which existed for those patients and visiting families who arrive in Charlottesville with meager means, often without funds to balance lodging, food, travel and even co-pays (for patients in what is known as pay range 1, indigent category).

There was agreement that another helping hand could be a tremendous help in filling the gaps. So – T. Wade and I decided to move to a new level of involvement, and start the process for a new charity, a non-religious, nonprofit, no stock organization to raise funds to “weave a new safety net.” It needed to be registered with IRS for allowance of donors to receive tax deductions. This is vital for a private person or company to be able to donate and receive that deduction in order to continue a sustained contribution.

Such an undertaking is a considerable challenge, and preparation has been rather consuming, but we are ready to serve for the years ahead. We now need for those who appreciate this community and the marvelous institution which is the University of Virginia and its Medical School teaching center and trauma center to provide a sustaining gift monthly to allow for relief for so many being served by the medical professionals.

The last months have been dedicated to establishment of Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS). This is the new charity. It has a website, thanks to Sam McLawhorn, who has joined us in a full time capacity as needed, also without pay, to make this safety net strong. It has a list of valued advisors, all with intimate knowledge of our objectives and first-hand knowledge of these unmet needs for patients and visitors to the hospital. The list of people making valuable contributions are many, but the leadership list is located on the website at

Please be aware that we have several websites, but our charity efforts are from IHS as described above. Therefore, it is vital that e-mail from IHS is recognized as being from us, and not be routed to junk mail.

Please know that our initial involvement has begun. As of April 2009 two accounts have been opened in the UVA Department of Social Work. One account is receiving a monthly IHS check to cover co-pays for pay range 1, and the other account is for purchase by that office of transit tickets for these same patients to return home across town. It is a beginning, and will be sustained. NOW – we must move toward assistance with lodging.

Let me tell you about a family with a patient in the hospital who is 20 years old, and dying of cancer. I will not be specific in this description, but his two older sisters and mother arrived with funds for one week to be with the patient. They only had funds to support themselves for one week. The doctor indicated that they needed to arrange a stay for about two more weeks, but they simply could not fund for lodging and food.

Fortunately, UVA Hospitality House (HH) received an opening for them for the extra two weeks, but they still did not have funds to pay for the $10 per night room rate. IHS sought and received consideration for the extra weeks and will pay for lodging, and has also given the family food money for a few days until more access is available to them at HH.

This is only one family which desperately needed these final days with their son, their brother. We were able to lift the stress of how to fund these valued days. We simply must allow this opportunity to repeat itself for future families.

Before we leave this initial blog message and present the handout for your further reading, allow me to return to the pages of A.L. Alexander’s marvelous book of poetry, “Poems that Touch the Heart.” There is a poem which has rippled down to us through the years and most of you know of it, but perhaps not the entire poem or its author, James W. Foley.

This lovely poem echoes through us as we go forward with this new charity. What we all drop into the pool of contributions to make good works happen will ripple through the hearts and minds of those served, and create a ripple which they experienced when they had a need to visit a small town in central Virginia. Charlottesville will be a point of many ripples, because kindness flows from this center of compassion.

Thank you… and enjoy James W. Foley’s poem and please read the new handout which follows. You will learn much more and feel secure with our appeal.

Drop a Pebble in the Water

“Drop a pebble in the water; just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s a half a hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness; just a flash and it is gone;
But there’s a half a hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling, and there’s joy a-circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.”


Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc.

"Weaving a new safety net for patients and their families at UVA Medical Center who need temporary assistance with lodging, food, travel expenses and co-pays."

A personal appeal from Rev. Elisheva Clegg, Interfaith Minister, Pastoral Counselor, M.A. and Chaplain Volunteer, UVA Medical Center, Charlottseville, VA ... and founding member of Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc.

Last year I began conferring with UVA Medical Center’s Director of Social Work and the Chief Chaplain, along with other supportive staff. They confirmed that there is a growing population of hospital visitors (both patients and family members) who arrive in Charlottesville with meager means, often unemployed and not insured.

These visitors, mostly families clinging to hope as a loved one lingers in critical status, face a gigantic balancing act to pay for lodging, food and travel. There are also patients who arrive for appointments for diagnosis and treatment. All are seeking to balance their health care needs with the cost of basic necessities.

It was determined that there are four major categories of unmet needs: lodging, transportation, food and co-pay assistance.

Where shall I start?

In February 2009 alone, UVA Medical Center Department of Social Work received requests for lodging from 61 contacts (individuals and families) who could not be accommodated. Those 61 contacts were unable to obtain lodging at the UVA Hospitality House (HH), with its $10 per night room rate (plus 4 very reasonable rental suites). Why? Because they did not meet certain qualifying guidelines:
> Age restrictions: 20 > Multiple family members: 11 > NO vacancies: 30

UVA Hospitality House (HH) and Ronald McDonald House (RMH) offer the most affordable room rates. Their professional caring staffs work diligently to assist guests. Total rooms at HH: 31. Total rental suites through HH: 4. Total rooms at RMH: 18. These same assets experience frequent full occupancy, and due to limited capacity, have necessary restrictions.

Let’s do the math: Using February 2009 as an example, that’s 732 contacts who will be directed elsewhere for lodging in 2009!

Where do all these people go?

Some will opt to use their funds for the most reasonable hotel rooms for as long as the money lasts, and sacrifice other necessities, especially eating. Some families must go home and leave the person who needs them for support. Some will huddle in the hospital lobbies, and waiting areas, all day, some with children… until night… and then…they will all sleep in a car somewhere near the medical center. Many will snack on crackers and soft drinks, and try not to risk their gas money for return home.

These are not the homeless, although many face an economic crisis due to their health care needs. The situation I am describing is so diminishing, so desperate, so depressing…yet so few outside of Social Work, Chaplaincy, and perhaps nurses and security personnel know the sadness which surrounds this healing center, when there is no fund, no alternative for immediate lodging, food, travel and co-pay money for prescriptions.

WAIT…there’s more!

A growing patient population in the indigent category (verified pay range 1) can not afford their co-pay for prescriptions. All too often, prescriptions are simply not filled. Let’s do the math: There are about 50 monthly requests for co-pay assistance for which there is no fund. That’s no less than 600 requests for 2009!

There are also 45-50 monthly requests, according to Social Work, for gas or transport funds for those over 60 miles away. Let’s do the math: That’s 600 requests for 2009! In addition there is also a need for transit system bus tickets locally.

The Department of Social Work has very limited funds for providing food assistance. Out of necessity these hospital visitors are directed to Charlottesville Soup Kitchens. The other alternative is a one-time weekly box from the food bank accessible through Embarq; however, the food box is more suited for preparation in a kitchen.

“We sincerely believe that once the facts are known, there is no need to create an emotional appeal. Isn’t one member of a family in crisis enough suffering? Must the entire group endure unbearable circumstances just to be supportive?”

Don’t forget about the annual RAM Clinic…

There is a group of patients referred to the UVA Medical Center each year following a screening at the annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinic in Wise, VA. Last year the RAM Clinic treated 2,600 people over a 3-day period at the Wise Fairgrounds. Most of the professional volunteers (doctors, nurses, social workers, technicians) are from Charlottesville. Last year over 50 people at the RAM Clinic were referred to the UVA Medical Center.

The RAM patients can not afford a doctor appointment in their community. Their only option is that one-time annual review in a fairground. Therefore, when a critical diagnosis and treatment is referred locally, that unemployed and uninsured patient still must make decisions regarding travel, food and yes, even lodging, when Hospitality House is full. The number of patients from RAM Clinic is always subject to increasing numbers.

What about Ronald McDonald House?

This facility is available to families who have a child patient in treatment. There is a reasonable fee, and the professional staff is outstanding. There are some restrictions, but the families who stay at Ronald McDonald House (RMH) tend to need lodging from one week to many months. When RMH is full, many families will not have anywhere to stay for extended periods.

Try to imagine a mother who is a guest staying at RMH with several other children, some back at home with a relative and little support, having to stay in Charlottesville for many months, while one child awaits a heart or lung transplant. She is asked to stay near the sick child as much as possible, and yet the other children must be monitored as they accompany that mother every single day. The stress can be over-whelming even when everyone at RMH is bending over backwards to find ways to assist. This is a typical family dilemma at RMH.

There were 40 requests to stay at RMH in February 2009 who had to be referred elsewhere because the facility was full.

Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc. (IHS)

This new independent charity partners with, but is not affiliated with, the UVA Medical Center. Our immediate objectives are easily understood, namely to raise funds for all the unmet needs herein described, but we remain open to filling larger gaps as the need presents itself.

“This charity was formed expressly to seek to be another helping hand, another safety net, for the overflow of UVA Medical Center patients and their families in need of temporary assistance for lodging, food, travel and co-pays.”

The value of your tax deductable contribution of
$50.00 will support one night of commercial lodging for a patient’s family…
$100.00 will support one night lodging and meals for 2 days for a family…
$150.00 will support one night of lodging, 2 meals for 2 days and gas for return home.

Where we must go and why

To reduce dependency on commercial lodging, which is costly and subject to availability, especially in summer, over holidays and on evenings or weekends of large UVA events, IHS has a long-term vision.

Our Vision is a permanent location, preferably a farm, which can be developed for consolidation of the overflow of lodging and food needs, for both short-term and extended periods.

Imagine a pastoral setting with dedicated buildings and staff to (1) meet the physical needs of UVA patients and their families with lodging and food service; (2) counsel and care for the psychological and spiritual needs of guests; (3) develop an active farm to meet the food needs of our guests; (4) provide a guest-friendly, outdoor environment, for relief of stress on all family members, especially for children; (5) make available as a community space for weddings, memorials, funerals, meetings, concerts, whereby all fees derived would be dedicated to maintaining the charity’s location and its programs.

Please visit our website and note that our volunteer advisors and officers are intimately familiar with our goals. We anticipate paid staff only when a permanent location dictates professionals on site. Your consistent tax deductable donations to IHS will establish that the Charlottesville community, with all its advantages, extends a compassionate, helping hand to its visitors with the greatest need.

Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum
P.O. Box 163,
Palmyra, VA 22963

Ph: (434) 591-0700 e-mail:
Alt Ph: (434) 589-4864