Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Things You Need to Know To Help Us Grow

The other night I returned about 10 PM from a trip to UVA Hospitality House(HH) in Charlottesville. I had received a call about 5 PM from the Manager requesting assistance with food for a visitor who was simply without funds for eating. HH had some can foods on their shelves, but little else, and the staff had gone out and personally purchased cereal and a few incidental items, but nothing substantial for three days of eating.

One doesn’t need to ask, “How does one come from such a distance with so little to stay for an unexpected duration?” When a person’s spouse is near death, that’s all that one needs to know.

On several occasions in the last months, a person will be staying in HH and we will cover lodging for many days, sometimes working with the HH manager for a negotiated rate for as much as thirty (30) days. Perhaps it is a spouse, as described above, or an outpatient for extended radiation treatment. Too often, the person will already feel that what is being provided with lodging is already generous, and they will not say that they don’t have food money.

Sometimes this situation will not be related by a patient or family member to a social worker, and only discovered later, perhaps at Hospitality House by a staff member.

We are applying again for food grants this year, and hopefully someone will read our requests and offer a boost. Meanwhile, we must continue to allow you to understand the “boots on the ground” reality which continues. One can not depend on grants; at least 80% of all financial support must come from private contributions.

Let me back up and indicate how little it takes to feed someone as described above for the three days. When lodging is available, the per night stay at HH is $10 per person. It’s not asking a lot, but when one simply has no funds to last out their time in Charlottesville, then that $10 might as well be $100. But as you can calculate, as happened above, a 5-day HH lodging stay is $50.

As for food, the request for food stated above was for only three days. I drove straight to a local food store and located the best of the frozen dinners on sale, mostly two for one sale items. I received some good directions over the last months from the Nutritionist at the UVA Cancer Center for what is the best quality, especially for outpatient cancer patients we are assisting.

I came away with nine(9) excellent meals, and a case or 24 bottles of water. The dinners average $1.57 each, and the case was an astounding sales price of $2.50, or about ten cents a bottle. Not counting tax, that was $14.13 for nine dinners for three days of eating, and enough water bottles for extra guests at Hospitality House.

In other words, one person was fed for a total of about $1.67 per meal, or
$5.01 per day, or $15.03 for three days!

Can you see how much a difference you can help me make with $10 for a room, or $5 for a day’s food for one person? Please look at these figures again. Know that I will drive that 20 miles to town every day if asked, but we cannot do it alone. We really need the assistance from private donors.

We are still the largest single contributor but it only stretches so far…

I want you to know that we began this year to offer couples who are hosting large weddings, especially in larger venues of Virginia, Maryland and in Washington, DC, an opportunity to receive a total tax deduction for an increased wedding fee. We allow for a total tax deductible donation to support this charity in lieu of our ministerial fees, but we can only do this a few times monthly in summer.

This extra giving through our own funds can only stretch so far; therefore, I wanted you to know that we are continually giving of our own funds, our own time on call every day for social staff, and we still do not take a salary from this charity.

I am only asking for each of you to consider what is possible on a consistent basis for $5-$10 monthly which is a tax deduction. I know many can afford more, but even these small donations help so much.

Perhaps this very personal description assists in bringing our constant need home, especially lodging. Keep in mind that in our first nine (9) months we have
placed 176 people into 256 overnight rooms. About half were commercial rooms at $50 average per night. March bills are coming due. Don’t forget us.

We feel so very correct about the service we are providing to the patients and families who come with such meager funds from long distances to be served at this marvelous Virginia medical center. Consider us in your giving.

Blessings…T. Wade