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Mad Anthonys Children's Hope House shows off expansion

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 5:37 am

Mad Anthonys Children's Hope House, a guest house for families of pediatric patients at Lutheran Hospital, held its ribbon cutting Tuesday to officially mark the facility's expansion.

The nonprofit house was opened in December 2003. .Located on the Lutheran Hospital campus, the facility provides shelter, meals and laundry. In return, guests are asked to pay a nominal charge of $10 a night, but the fee will be waived if they cannot afford it.

In its 10 years Mad Anthonys Children's Hope House has hosted and taken care of 45,000 families, Tom Niezer, board president told the gathering.

“The word hope is in our name and is generated in our house, but the real hope is generated by the care and treatment of the physicians, nursing staff and administrative staff at Lutheran Hospital,” Niezer said.

Before the expansion the facility had six bedrooms; it now has 10, a larger kitchen space, stocked pantry, two living rooms, a TV lounge, a computer room, a fitness room, meditation rooms and three laundry rooms.

About 40 people gathered to see the official ribbon cutting. Visitors could take guided tours of the renovated facility. Light blues and white wainscoting line the hallways leading to the rooms. The kitchen is now very accessible for wheelchair using visitors, with a large floating island and two refrigerators. The children's playroom located right off the kitchen now has windows in the wall so mothers can keep an eye on their children as they work in the kitchen.

Jack Arnold, founding member and past president of the board, said he got the idea for building the facility from talking to families of children who have been hospitalized at Lutheran. Arnold said it is important for the parents to have an affordable stress free place to stay close to their hospitalized children. It allows the parents to better cope with the trauma of having a sick or injured child.

Arnold said they are one of the few pediatric guest houses in the country that operates debt free thanks to the generosity of the community. Mad Anthonys has been donating money to the organization for the past seven years and Arnold said every time they got a check from that organization they would put it into a special account earmarked for capital improvements. When it came time to expand the building they had most of the money in place.

Various fundraisers throughout the year also help them with their operating expenses like the Kids for Kids Basketball tournament, which is now in its 15th year. Thursday they will be holding Treasure Chests for Hope, with a buffet, complimentary cocktail, and live and silent auction event and tours of the expansion. This is their second year to try something like this and tickets are sold out. Arnold said local businesses have been very generous donating merchandise for the event including jewelry, nursery items, Vera Bradley handbags, a free helicopter ride for five, spa packages and fine wines.