MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A newly renovated home will soon give families a free place to stay while their child is being treated at the hospital for pediatric cancer or other illnesses.
Every day, families travel to Memphis for their sick child to be treated at Le Bonheur or St. Jude. It takes them away from their homes for weeks, months, and sometimes years at a time.
While they're here, the Chris Hope Foundation (CHF) helps cover the financial burdens that arise when a family has to spend so much time away from home.
“We assist families at St. Jude or Le Bonheur with their financial burdens," Chris Hope, the founder of the foundation, said. "A lot of those families, they come here and they’re away from home for months, sometimes years. If you’re not working, you’re not making any money meaning those bills aren’t getting paid.”
The foundation helps families referred from social workers with Quality of Life for All Kids, which provides families with resources and opportunities for community engagement during their ill loved one’s treatment.
CHF will often step in to help pay mortgage and car payments for struggling families. They'll even cover the little expenses too, like gas.
Hope said he still remembers the first family he helped. He recalls the woman on the phone crying because she was going to lose her home due to past due mortgage payments. He, with the help of friends, gathered money together to cover her - and the rest is history for him.
“This has allowed me to see the other side of pediatric cancer - to know how much it affects families," he said. "Yes, it's tough to see kids go through that, but Wells Fargo still wants their mortgage money, Ford Motor Credit, they still want their money.”
Now, CHF is widening its scope in how it helps families.
On Saturday, CHF will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a home they spent months renovating. The home, located north of Crosstown, will give families staying in Memphis for pediatric care a free place to stay.
Hope said while local hospitals do work with families to provide housing assistance, not all qualify.
“So many times I’ve seen families be rejected but they want to be together, of course everybody wants to be together. And so I had this vision, it was literally just a vision, that would be cool if we bought a house," he said. "This year we had the opportunity to make that happen."
He said, in many cases, the housing opportunities will cap how many people can stay together. The CHF house will allow both parents, all siblings, and extended-relatives to stay too.
“Families can come here from anywhere from three months to six months to be together as one and go through that journey together without having that stress of worrying about what the son is doing here, what dad’s doing here," he said.
The home will also allow pets. Hope recalled one story to explain the importance of that.
“There was a little girl that was pretty much at the end of her days," he said. "All she wanted to do was play with her dog and of course you can’t take the dog to the hospital. You can’t take the dog to the housing facility, but at the foundation house you can bring your dog here."
Hope also said the home will give families transitional time in the cases of a child's death.
“There’s been situations where a family has lost their child. There is a short window where you have to leave the housing facility," he said. "It’s sad to say, but some of those families don’t have anywhere to go because they don’t have their home anymore. So I guess you can treat this home like an extended stay.”
The ribbon-cutting will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Details here.
Due to COVID-19, Hope said a lot of the funds that they have relied on have gone away. He estimates they've lost around $35,000 on top of canceled/reduced fundraising opportunities.
To support the mission of the Chris Hope Foundation, give here.