Getting sick is expensive.

Even with health insurance, patients’ medical bills pile up quickly — doctor appointments, hospital visits, medicine, lengthy treatment, rehabilitative care. This list is endless.

But beyond these expenses are more pernicious ones that are frequently overlooked. Transportation, hotels, food, and other miscellaneous away-from-home costs must be taken into consideration for patients and their families. For many, this is a seemingly insurmountable burden, and for most, yet another problem to worry about.

For this reason, Hospital Hospitality Houses have emerged across the country to provide comfortable and supportive lodging for patients and their families during the most trying times.

Of particular note is Kevin Guest House in Buffalo, NY, which was founded in 1972 by Claudia and Cyril Garvey six months after their son, Kevin, lost his own battle with leukemia. According to its website, “as the first independent healthcare hospitality house in America, Kevin Guest House has served as the model for more than 600 houses across the country, including the very first Ronald McDonald House.”

Thanks to the critical work carried out by Kevin Guest House and the hundreds of other houses across the country, patients and their families from all over the world have an affordable (and many times free) option for food and lodging near major hospital and healthcare centers.

But there’s still much work to be done.

To operate effectively and provide guests with the level of compassion, care, comfort necessary, HHHs need continued support, be they independently run or part of a larger organization such as the Ronald McDonald House Charities program (RMHC).

In an effort to raise awareness around these institutions and the care they provide for those in need, IVY hosted a series of seven events across each of its cities in February 2018, partnering with the RHMC, the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge, and Boston Children’s Hospital Family Housing Program to give our members a chance to get involved.

From Valentine’s Day Crafts & Cookie making to Pancake Brunches and Dinner Services, these events gave IVY Members a glimpse into the kind of work carried out at Hospital Hospitality Houses. Because when it comes to creating a comforting experience for guests, volunteers are just as crucial as funding.

After all, more than just places to stay, these houses strive to be all-inclusive homes-away-from-home. By donating their time and efforts, volunteers can help prepare meals and provide other lodging necessities, and perhaps more importantly, put a smile on guests’ faces by facilitating fun activities while offering emotional support.

Our members found the events both fun and an incredible way to give back to their community in a meaningful way. Many described connecting with the guests as their favorite part of the experience and expressed interest in continuing to work with the great organizations.

In the spirit of giving and supporting Hospital Hospitality Houses across the nation, we’ve included some links below that will help you get involved in each of our cities. Your efforts go further than you know!

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland: Volunteer – Donate – Join the Red Shoe Society

Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House: Volunteer – Donate – Join the Red Shoe Society

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Washington, DC: Volunteer – Donate – Join the Red Shoe Society

Ronald McDonald House Miami: Volunteer – Donate – Join the Red Shoe Society

Ronald McDonald House of San Francisco: Volunteer – Donate

Boston Children’s Hospital: Volunteer – Donate

American Cancer Society Hope Lodge – New York: Volunteer – Donate