Each year more than 200,000 people travel to Boston to receive state-of-the-art medical treatment at the city’s renowned hospitals. With them come family and friends to provide emotional support. Though hotels abound in Boston, the average hotel rate is among the highest in the country – $181 per night in 2002. Affordable accommodations are scarce, leaving those who cannot afford a $181 nightly hotel bill with few options. Faced with a decision that could mean the difference between life and death for their loved one, many people often choose to sleep in waiting rooms or cars rather than forego the trip: anything to be near a loved one during his or her treatment.
For the past 20 years, a quiet group of volunteers has been offering a solution to families in this situation. Known collectively as Hospitality Homes (formerly The Hospitality Program), these amazing individuals open their homes to families during times of medical crisis. Hospitality Homes was born out of the resolve of several individuals to help families find comfort and strength through the hospitality of Boston-area residents. With spare rooms and big hearts, Hospitality Homes Hosts touch hundreds of families each year through a simple act of kindness.
Currently, 120 Hospitality Homes Hosts throughout the Boston area offer free accommodations to patients’ families and friends. Hosts provide a clean, comfortable place to sleep and access to a bathroom. They receive no compensation from guests or the organization. Instead, they reap the personal rewards that come from knowing they have enabled guests to rest comfortably and focus on caring for their loved one. And, they have helped enable patients to focus on their own recovery; knowing loved ones are being cared for in a safe home.
Hospitality Homes Hosts are true examples of the power of human connection. Their willingness to welcome strangers into their own homes is testament to their remarkable compassion and generosity, particularly given the climate of today’s world. True to their selflessness, hosts often react with surprise when others shower them with praise for their volunteerism: to hosts, it is not something special; it’s just what they do.
Hosts have directly impacted the lives of thousands of guests. Rather than the anonymity of a hotel room in the middle of a strange city, guests return each night to the warmth of their host home. Friendships are forged as guests and hosts share stories, laughter, and even tears.
Since 1983, Hospitality Homes Hosts have collectively provided more than 102,000 guest nights for families in need. In 2002 alone, hosts provided 8,001 guest nights for more than 850 guests from 36 states and 13 countries. More than 2/3 of the families served each year have household incomes of $40K or less. Though most guests identify cost as the motivating factor to apply for housing, these same guests state that the strength of the program is the guest/host relationship. Hospitality Homes Hosts offer a unique solution to a need that many do not even realize exists. Hosts help enable patients to receive the care they need with their loved ones by their side, and exemplify in the truest possible sense the adage: “Charity begins at home.”