How You Can Help
We had a very special wish granted…
…we have new laundry machines!
Last fall, our friends from Hercules, a laundry room equipment provider from Long Island, NY, generously donated five brand new washer and dryer sets to the Howie’s House!
Imagine having to suddenly relocate to a city you’ve never been to—you have to find a place to stay, food to eat…the last thing on your mind may be where to wash your clothes. You might not even have detergent, a laundry basket, or quarters to put into machines at the laundromat.
Because our guests can take the stairs or elevator right to our laundry room, they don’t have to worry about how to get their personal belongings to and from a laundromat. This convenience helps make the Howie’s House feel like “home” and gives our guests more time to focus on what’s most important—taking care of themselves and their loved ones.
“What the Gift of Life Howie’s House provides to its residents and their families, in terms of support and inspiration, is truly heartwarming,” Andrew May, President and CEO at Hercules, says.
“After our Hercules Account Manager, Tom Jeppestol, brought to my attention the needs of the Howie’s House with respect to their laundry facility, I didn’t hesitate for a minute in determining how we could support such a worthwhile organization. The patients and their families certainly have enough to deal with, waiting for transplants and follow-up appointments. It’s my pleasure to be able to help make their stay at Howie’s House as comfortable and stress-free as possible.”
The new washers and dryers will allow our guests to do their laundry for free during their stay. They can put their clothes in the wash, head back to their rooms or make a snack in the kitchen, and come right back down when they’re ready to be switched.
Thank you so much to Andrew and everyone else at Hercules who made this wonderful gift possible!
Are you from an organization looking to give a charitable gift? At the Howie’s House, we can always use a hand to help serve our transplant families. If you’re interested in making a gift, please contact Sara Cohen, Development Manager, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 267-546-9800.
When we’re feeling stressed or anxious, or we’ve just had a rough day, sometimes what makes it all better is spending some time with our pets.
Unfortunately, many transplant families are separated from theirs’ because they have to travel a long way from home to receive life-saving treatment.
That’s why as part of our Caregiver Lifeline Program, we bring in therapy dogs several times each month to spend time with our guests.
“There are some studies suggesting that petting animals can help reduce stress and anxiety,” says Talia, our social worker.
“Transplant patients and families staying at the Gift of Life Howie’s House are under tremendous stress and away from their own support networks at home, including their own pets. Therapy dogs give the families an opportunity to forget the stressful parts of the transplant journey, even just for a few moments,” she adds.
Carmen and Debra have been visiting our guests since we opened our doors in 2011.
When Debra pulls up into the Gift of Life Howie’s House parking lot, Carmen wags her tail in excitement. They both walk through the doors, greet our staff at the Front Desk, and then Carmen runs excitedly to our social worker Talia’s office to greet her.
Carmen was rescued from Puerto Rico and brought to the United States when she was just a few months old. When Debra and her husband first met Carmen, she ran right up to them, jumped in their laps, and licked their faces. Now she is 11 years old and has been part of the family ever since!
Carmen has never taken an obedience class before but passed her therapy dog certification with ease. “She’s so loving and giving,” Debra explains. “She just knows who needs her and what to do for that person.”
During their visits, Carmen and Debra sit in our living room and wait for our guests to stop by for some quality time. Carmen is always so happy to greet everyone who comes to say hello! She gives tons of kisses, happily wags her tail, and is even willing to just sit quietly by your side for a little while.
Kathy, a Gift of Life Howie’s House guest, loves hanging out with Carmen. “Being with Carmen is relaxing,” she says. “It’s positive therapy for me.”
Kathy also mentions missing her own dog, a Labrador named Molly, who is staying with her sister while she is away from home. “I miss her a lot,” she says. “I love seeing my son with Carmen because I know he misses Molly, too.”
Esther, another guest, agrees: “When you have so much going on all at once, sitting there with a dog is so comforting,” she says. “I’ve missed my dogs who are still at home while I’m here. Being with Carmen lets you forget it all for a little while.”
Debra loves talking to our guests and learning about themselves and their families—and even their dogs!
“Everybody has a dog story,” she says. “Hanging out with Carmen gives them the chance to talk about something or someone they love.”
Carmen also visits schools to help students de-stress during exams, and even takes part in a program where children learning to read can practice reading to her.
Debra recalls when she saw two children waiting in the window for Carmen to walk in, and she immediately ran over and began kissing them.
“I get so excited when people who’ve had a long day see Carmen,” she says. “It makes them feel better. I wish every place had a therapy dog program.”
The Gift of Life Howie’s House’s Caregiver Lifeline Program provides services specifically tailored to the needs of organ transplant patients, family members, and caregivers inside and outside the walls of the House.
Carmen is just one of the many therapy dogs we invite to spend time with our guests to help them relax after a stressful day, and also to provide another opportunity for guests to connect with each other. They have an important impact on our guests’ well-being and we look forward to having them every time they come to visit!
Are you interested in bringing your therapy dog to visit our transplant families at the Gift of Life Howie’s House? Contact our social worker, Talia, at email@example.com.
Each year, members of Gift of Life Howie’s House community hold Facebook fundraisers to raise money for our mission of being a “home away from home” for transplant families. Some people give up their birthdays and ask their Facebook friends to donate to our cause in lieu of gifts, and others fundraise in honor or memory of a loved one. Whatever the reason, we are extremely grateful for each and every one!
Hosting a Facebook fundraiser is an easy, fun, quick way to support our mission. It’s also a great way to get your friends involved and share your story to your community.
Signing up is easy! Simply click the link below, set your goal, share your story, and press “create” to share with your friends and family!
Join the many others who have already supported us and set up your Facebook fundraiser today!
Ed Galarza’s been a volunteer with Gift of Life Donor Program since he received a life-saving liver transplant in 2003. As soon as the Howie’s House opened in 2011, he started volunteering here, too. He started out cooking dinners for our guests, checking them in at the Front Desk, and driving them to and from transplant hospitals for their doctor’s appointments. Seven years later, Ed’s still hanging out with us. He volunteers twice a week assisting with upkeep around the facility, performing maintenance work, and is a back-up shuttle driver.
Ed was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in the Bronx, and now lives in New Jersey. He has 2 children, 3 grandchildren, and is a retired Army veteran. He was first diagnosed with liver disease in 1999, but didn’t start to get sick until 2003. Unfortunately, there was no Howie’s House for him or his family to stay in during his transplant journey. His wife had to travel to and from the hospital by herself. He understands the importance of having a safe place to stay during such a difficult journey.
“The Howie’s House is very important,” he says. “It’s all about helping people in need.”
Ed is motivated to give back to everyone who has helped him along his own transplant journey. “I volunteer here to give back to the wonderful people who work for this organization, for my second chance at life, and for those who worked their butts off to help me get where I am today,” he says. “I get more than I give when I’m here. Being in the Howie’s House makes me feel better.”
Ed also enjoys giving back to others who are on their own transplant journeys. “I really like talking with the guests I meet. I can relate to them,” he says. “I’ve been there. I know what they’re going through and what they will go through.”
We’re so thankful for you, Ed. You help make the Howie’s House such a wonderful place!
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:
In 2004, Diana Ortiz battled a virus that left her with an enlarged heart. In 2011, her heart began to fail and she started spending several days each month in the hospital. In 2016, she was given six months to live. Ortiz received a left ventricular assist device, an LVAD, to help her heart pump blood throughout her body. She went back home to Allentown, PA, with her partner, Chris Bolden, and her doctor placed her on the transplant list in September of 2017. Shortly thereafter, Ortiz received her life-saving heart transplant and a miraculous second chance at life thanks to a charitable act by a donor family.
Bolden and Ortiz made the three hour trip to Philadelphia where Ortiz underwent surgery to receive her precious gift. While the surgery was successful, her new heart was weak at first. Doctors placed her back on ECMO for the first month and she fell ill to pneumonia. Throughout the ordeal, Bolden rarely left her side. “I only went home twice,” Bolden said. “I visited the hospital every day. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. On the days I did go home, my first stop of the day was always the hospital.”
Bolden stayed at the Gift of Life Howie’s House for four months while Ortiz recovered. He had a place to sleep, a place to eat, and people to talk to while he supported his loved one. The Gift of Life Howie’s House provided shuttle service for him and other guests to the hospitals where their family members were being treated in Philadelphia. “The shuttle is a lifesaver for people,” Bolden said. “Drivers drop you right in front of the hospital entrance and people on the shuttle have either been through or are going through the same things as you. Drivers are even willing to point out historical landmarks in the city.”
Our House volunteers drive the shuttle which runs several times a day, assisting guests who do not have cars, don’t feel comfortable navigating the city, and/or can’t afford to pay for gas and parking. “Without the shuttle, it would’ve been more of a struggle,” Bolden said. “Parking my own vehicle at the hospital would have cost almost $100 a week.” This past year, more than 4,600 guests climbed aboard our six-passenger minivan. Unfortunately, there were many trips where guests were turned away because the van was full. The minivan also has limited cargo space for stowing oxygen tanks and wheelchairs needed by transplant patients. Recently, we rented an 11-passenger vehicle to better provide for our guests’ comfort and wellbeing. “The new shuttle is roomier. There’s an overhead compartment and more room to get in,” Bolden said.
As part of our spring campaign, we hope to raise $50,000 to put towards a new, 11-passenger shuttle with a bus-style folding door, low steps, a center aisle, and a raised roof to make trips easier for both drivers and riders.
“Without the House, [Chris] would either be living at the hospital with me, or couldn’t come back and forth,” Ortiz said. “I never worried because I knew he had a place to stay.”
We hope you consider supporting our campaign for a new shuttle. Your donation will help guests like Chris Bolden travel back and forth to visit their loved ones and leave them with one less thing to worry about. Click below to make a donation:
Through my job as an in-house social worker, I offer support — including individual and group counseling — to help families through the transplant process.
But over the last six-plus years, I have also wiped tears, given hugs, brought in therapy dogs, celebrated birthdays and graduations, thrown bridal showers, and so much more.
“It’s a privilege to stand with families who have come from across the state, or across the country, on their transplant journey.” — Talia Giordano
“It’s a privilege to stand with these families who have come from across the state, or across the country, on their transplant journey. And it’s a privilege to stand with other people who care. Will you make a gift during the Matching Challenge so every dollar can double to provide a home to patients and families in their hardest times?” – Talia Giordano, MSW, LSW, Howie’s House Social Worker
To help families who rely on the Howie’s House during a most difficult and uncertain time in life, a generous friend has offered a $50,000 Matching Gift opportunity. Like you, this caring friend wants every transplant family to have access to an affordable place of rest, delicious home-cooked meals, and a warm and caring community of support. So every gift received prior to the December 31st deadline will be matched dollar for dollar, ensuring that more transplant families will experience a “home away from home” at the Howie’s House.
“Thank you so much for making my mother and me feel welcome at Gift of Life Howie’s House.
My life depends on a double lung transplant. We’re here at the Howie’s House waiting and hoping for “the call.””
I was just 33 when I got sick. In the years it took to get my diagnosis of Diffused Systemic Scleroderma with Interstitial Lung Disease, I had to quit my job and all my financial resources were depleted. The Howie’s House means my mother, who is my required caregiver, and I are not living in hotels and out of suitcases. It provides us with a home while away from home and a sense of stability during this very uncertain time.
It’s clean, quiet, comfortable, and beautiful. There are home-cooked meals every night, laundry facilities, a shuttle, and other families just like us who are waiting and hoping, too.
We are so grateful to people who support the Howie’s House “home” so we can focus on being ready when my call comes.
Will you help twice as many families like mine by making a gift during the Matching Challenge?” – Jennifer Herrmann
To help families like Jennifer’s who rely on the Howie’s House during a most difficult and uncertain time in life, a generous friend has offered a $50,000 Matching Gift opportunity. Like you, this caring friend wants every transplant family to have access to an affordable place of rest, delicious home-cooked meals, and a warm and caring community of support. So every gift received prior to the December 31st deadline will be matched dollar for dollar, ensuring that more transplant families will experience a “home away from home” at the Howie’s House.
When you make a bequest to the Howie’s House, you will help to ensure a “home away from home” for the transplant families who will need us for years to come. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your deeply held values will live on through the loving care we provide. You will also help to ensure that the Howie’s House is able to maintain their affordable fees and broad array of services for all who need support— now and in the future.
It is an easy and simple way that you can support the future of the Howie’s House and continue care for transplant patients and families. Bequests can be a percentage of the remainder of your estate or a specific dollar amount.
Sample language for making a bequest: “I give, devise, and bequeath to Gift of Life Howie’s House, a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization located at 401 Callowhill Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123, EIN 26-0585694, or its successor-in-interest, (insert dollar amount or percentage) for its unrestricted use and purposes.”
If you already have prepared a will, you can simply add a codicil amending it to include the Howie’s House.
Already included the Howie’s House in your will? Let us know so we can celebrate with you now!
Enjoy recognition today as a Legacy Society member.
Supporters who notify us that they have made arrangements for planned gifts will be recognized as members of our prestigious Legacy Society. And for members who have made bequests of $10,000 or more will have their name and giving level added to the special Legacy Society Wall in the Howie’s House living room.
Visit www.GiftofLifeFamilyHouse.org for more information.
To discuss making a planned gift to Gift of Life Howie’s House or if you have already named us in your will, please contact Sara Cohen, Development Manager at 267-546-9812 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please consult your attorney, tax advisor or financial advisor before making a bequest or updating your estate plan.
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