Orlando Sentinel – Fisher House Orlando to Aid Families of Hospitalized Veterans

Orlando Sentinel – Fisher House Orlando to Aid Families of Hospitalized Veterans 

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November 29, 2016, 6:18 PM 

Ronald McDonald House Charities figured out decades ago that providing a home away from home for the families of sick children is good medicine for everyone involved.

The Fisher House Foundation — with 71 homes around the globe — says the same is true for military service members and their families.

And now the organization is bringing that mission to Orlando.

On Wednesday, officials will unveil plans for a $6 million, 16-suite Fisher House Orlando next to the Orlando VA Medical Center in Lake Nona — a project they say should be completed by the end of next year.

“Fisher House likes to say that a family’s love is always good medicine,” said Greg Smith, volunteer chairman of Friends of Fisher House Orlando, the local charity working with the Fisher House Foundation and Orlando VA to raise money for the project.

“Quite a few doctors have attributed accelerated or unexpected recovery of veterans to being able to have their loved ones there. We know it takes a great deal of stress off them.”

Fisher House Foundation began in 1990 when Zachary Fisher, a builder, and his wife, Elizabeth, donated the first home at Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

Since then, it has helped more than 277,000 families and provided over 6 million days of free lodging, often coming to the aid of families who could not otherwise afford to be near their loved ones when they’re in the hospital.

One of the nation’s highest-rated charities, it serves the families of both veterans and active-duty personnel and often helps with transportation costs, too.

The Orlando VA Medical Center donated the land for the 13,000-square-foot home and will take ownership of the facility when it’s complete. The arrangement allows donations to be tax-deductible in the interim.

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“It’s a great organization and this is a great partnership,” said VA spokesman Mike Strickler. “It provides a really needed service not just for the physical well-being of the veterans and their families — but also their psychological well-being.”

That’s why Fisher House typically limits the size of the homes to about 16 suites, said foundation spokeswoman Kerri Childress, a Vietnam War-era Navy veteran.

“We don’t want them to get so big that they feel like a hotel. We want them to get the feeling of being a home. Because the point is not just that this is free — which is important, since a family may need to stay months at a time while a veteran is hospitalized — but also that it’s a healing environment for the family, as well. There is bonding that takes place among people going through traumatic times together.”

Friends of Fisher House Orlando still needs to raise nearly $3 million toward the construction costs, Smith said. To donate, go to orlandofisherhouse.org.

ksantich@orlandosentinel.com, @katesantich, 407-420-5503


 

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Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service #CH48026. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by call toll free (800) 435-1352 within the state. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval or recommendation by the state.

Contact Us

Friends of Fisher House Orlando
P.O. Box 621006
Oviedo, FL 32762
Call: (407) 603-6693

About

The Friends of Fisher House Orlando is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization established solely to support the building of a Fisher House at the new Orlando VA Medical Center, Lake Nona, in support of our Military Veterans and Active Duty Service Members and their families. This committee was formed to honor our American uniform service members and their families who have stepped forward to defend our country and the ideals for which we stand; at great sacrifice to themselves and their families.