Hope Lodge Aims For Endowment

July 21, 2008
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Since it opened in Grand Rapids in February, Hope Lodge has served 56 patients and 136 caregivers with 1,328 nights of free lodging in its 20 guest rooms.

The lodge, 129 Jefferson St. SE, affiliated with the American Cancer Society, is embarking on a fundraising effort with the aim of weaning itself from ACS support, Acting Manager Deb DenHerder said.

Teresa Schall, major gifts director for the ACS Metro Grand Rapids area, said the goal is a $10 million endowment “to be used to support the ongoing operations of Hope Lodge.” Volunteer recruitment is continuing, with campaign activity expected to increase this month. Co-chairs are Bob Wood, chairman of G&T Industries, and Bob Israels, of Israels Designs for Living.

“It’s really a way for making the future more secure for Hope Lodge,” Schall said.

Hope Lodge is run by one full-time staff member, seven part-time staffers and volunteers, DenHerder said. Cancer patients age 18 and older must be traveling from out of town and receiving treatment in Grand Rapids. Each patient may be accompanied by one caregiver. If the patient is hospitalized, one or two caregivers at a time may stay at Hope Lodge.

The lodge has served patients from 13 counties and Chicago, with people traveling from as close as 83 miles and from as far as 277 miles, DenHerder said. Eventually, the lodge will offer some programming, such as yoga or journal writing, but for now it is just starting to develop relationships with Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids and the Wege Center for Mind, Body and Spirit.

One program that already has proved popular is community dinners. Various community groups volunteer about once a week to cook a meal for the guests at Hope Lodge, DenHerder said.

“It’s a real magical time for both guests and those serving dinner,” she said. — Elizabeth Slowik

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