Corey Baker received his precious gift of life—a set of lungs—last September from as a charitable act from a kind, selfless donor. He and his parents, Jack and Sharon, traveled from upstate New York to Philadelphia when they found out his pulmonary hypertension treatment would require a transplant.
Jack and Sharon stayed at the Gift of Life Howie’s House while their son received treatment and during his recovery. While Corey was in the hospital, his parents would use our shuttle to travel back and forth from the hospital each day. “The reason we chose to stay at the Gift of Life Howie’s House was because of the shuttle service. Sharon doesn’t drive and I didn’t feel comfortable putting her in a taxi when I couldn’t travel with her,” Jack explains. “Because it was free, traveling was a lot easier for us.”
When Corey was in the hospital, his mother used it every day to visit him. “I usually took the 8:00 a.m. shuttle in the morning and took the last one back around 5:00 p.m.,” she says. After his transplant, Corey took the shuttle at least three times a week to travel back and forth from the House and his rehab appointments.
Corey, Jack, and Sharon all agree that talking to our volunteer shuttle drivers and other transplant families who they met on their rides brought them hope and comfort. “Many of the drivers and guests told us about their own transplant journeys. It was nice to hear about their experiences and what they learned,” Sharon says. Jack and Corey enjoyed how comfortable they felt learning about the unfamiliar city they were now living in. “We loved how all the drivers explained the city to you. We live four hours away, and we don’t know it well. Around the holidays, it was nice to look at the buildings lit up. We’re from the country—we never see sights like that,” Jack explains.
Once Corey was feeling better, he and Sharon would take walks to different places the shuttle drivers pointed out. “We’d remember places, and once he got well enough, Corey and I would walk to them,” Sharon says. “It was a great way to get out and enjoy the weather.”
Last year, our shuttle transported more than 4,600 guests between the Gift of Life Howie’s House and Philadelphia’s transplant hospitals. Unfortunately, there were many trips when guests were turned away because the shuttle was too full or could not accommodate their needs, such as space for oxygen tanks and wheelchairs. Sharon herself experienced some of these issues. “There were times I was turned away from the shuttle because it was full. It seemed really, really busy,” she says.
This spring, the Gift of Life Howie’s House hopes to raise $50,000 to purchase a new, 11-passenger shuttle to better accommodate our guests. Our new shuttle will have more seating for our guests, a larger cargo area, and it will be easier for patients and their families with equipment or physical disabilities to get on and off.
To accomplish this, we need your help.
Our shuttle service alleviated the financial stresses the transplant journey can bring for the Baker family. Without it, the Bakers say they would have had a difficult time getting to and from hospital visits and doctor’s appointments. “We would have to use Uber, which can cost anywhere between $10 and $20 depending on the time of day,” Jack says. “One time, we took an Uber in a snowstorm and it cost us $82.”
“I didn’t even have access to Uber when we first got to the House,” Sharon adds. “I still had a flip phone.”
The Bakers understand our need for a larger, more accessible vehicle.
“There’s always someone going in and out of the Gift of Life Howie’s House,” Sharon says. “A lot of times, some people were too late or too early for the shuttle. Sometimes, there weren’t enough drivers. We’d see Joe, the manager, filling in a lot.”
“Extra seating would help a lot of people,” Jack says. “The bigger shuttle will be able to fit 5 more people. That’s a big difference.”
A gift towards our campaign for a new shuttle will help families like the Bakers feel comfortable traveling in a new, unfamiliar city during the often stressful transplant journey and help guests like Corey continue to get the care they need.
Please consider making a donation below: