On Tuesday, August 18th, we received our first very generous donation. Thanks to a very special, long time friend for getting our fund-raising off the ground!
On Monday, August 17th, Bob, Mary and Brad met with Patrick Gahan and Ankur Chatterjee of Enduring Hearts for a breakfast meeting at Cracker Barrel in Kennesaw. We felt it was a very productive meeting and from our discussions, we feel like our two organizations would do well to work together, whatever form that takes. They gave us a lot of helpful information and in that process we realized how much further ahead of us they are! We are so much just in a beginning place, but like them, this is a passion for us. And we believe that passion runs both of our efforts.
They offered to send us a list of other foundations that they mentioned to us which are good about sharing their story, their knowledge and perhaps their resources. Right now we are dealing with a very limited time line for a lot of money! Any help we can get from any resource, we will take.
When our two families were sitting at the table and really began sharing our stories, emotions were running high. That is the very thing that the general public needs to see in order to realize the full impact of transplants. Patrick is literally fighting for his little girl’s life. Our goal is to make the transplant process more caring and more hopeful for those families that are walking the path we walked. We know how the families feel and the emotions they deal with. The research that their foundation is funding excites all of us beyond belief. Maybe someday due to efforts of organizations like theirs and ours, there will no longer be a need for more than one transplant, people will be able to live much longer and with much more quality of life than is possible now, and a facility to stay in while someone is dealing with the transplant process will no longer be needed. It’s a big order, but our family comes from the view that nothing is impossible with our God. He has gifted us with the ability to do what we are doing. And quite honestly, nothing will be accomplished if people like us and the two guys we met with this morning don’t step up to the plate, so to speak, to make a difference.
We look forward to meeting with them again soon.
Bob and Mary toured the Piedmont Facility that we have been talking about for quite some time. Brad had toured it last week. We were very pleasantly surprise at how nice it is. It is actually being used as a “guest facility” already, which means that families of hospital patients can stay there as needed and there is one room dedicated to the surgeon-on-call through the night. This area of the hospital was part of Piedmont’s nursing school, actually the living quarters for the students. At the time, it consisted of four floors. Today we were only looking at one floor. The other floors are being used for other purposes. We are looking at 12 guest rooms and a common sitting area.
We got off the elevator and stepped into a foyer. Then we toured one of 12 rooms that are furnished with beds, couches, dressers, etc. Everything is very dated, color and style-wise. So that will be our challenge…to fix the place up. Currently each room has a bathroom (one room is handicapped accessible). There are no closets, just a place to hang clothes. We would want to redo COMPLETELY every room, to include a closet, a small refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker. There is also a small common area that is never used. It’s just not inviting. That area has a microwave, coffee maker, ice maker, refrigerator, sink, etc. We would probably eliminate all the kitchen part of that and enlarge the seating area, making it a more comfortable area in which to sit. We will be working very closely with Mary Francis (see below). Very important to the hospital is that we use only materials that will eliminate any chance of infection as much as possible. (All of this was entirely new to Bob and Mary, but obviously very important.)
To sum up, almost everything needed is cosmetic. The entire area would have to be repainted. New floors would be needed. Right now there is a mish-mash of carpets! The air conditioning in each room would have to be updated. Small “kitchen” items would have to be added to each room. Closets would have to be added. All new furniture would be needed, all new bedding and linens, etc. And my favorite part!….it needs to be decorated!!
We met with Mendal Bouknight, who has been our contact since our first meeting with Piedmont…a great guy! He’s the person in charge of the Piedmont Hospital Foundation and the person who presented our idea to the hospital board. Also there were Mary Francis Honea, who is in charge of all guest (patient) services, and Anna Johanson McConnie, who explained everything to us regarding the 501(c)(3) part of this. Another person that was with us today is an older gentleman named Jack. This area of the hospital is his PASSION. He meets the practical needs of everyone that stays there now. As we were leaving, he whispered in my ear, “this is a dream come true.”
Now information on the 501(c)(3) part. We will be working entirely under Piedmont’s 501(c)(3) status. All donations will go through them, specified for our project. We will be a part of their web page, so donations can be made on line. This takes an enormous amount of work off of our plate. This means we will not have to form our own foundation, which means we do not have to have a mission statement and vision statement or a business plan. We won’t have to form a Board of Directors. We won’t have to file for 501(c)(3) status or register with the State of Georgia. We also will not need to design a web page or make any videos (at this point in time, we were not sure who would do that for us). We cannot begin to say how much we appreciate all of those who were so willing to step up to the plate to help us in all of these areas. From Mary’s standpoint, their willingness has kept her on an even keel over the last few months. And as you can tell…this has been quite the learning curve!
Now about money. We need to raise $25,000 over the next few weeks in order for Piedmont to do something to make us legally part of their foundation. And it’s also a sign to the hospital that the Evans’ family is serious about beginning fund raising. Then they will want us to have raised $300,000.00 by next April in order for the project to be included in the hospital’s budget for 2017. We could begin the project early 2017. After that we will need to raise another $200,000.00 to complete the project. When the project is finished, it will be managed and staffed entirely by Piedmont. Originally, we were expecting to have to raise $6-8 million to build a house. So when we’re now looking at ONLY $500,000.00, this seems like a piece of cake! Seriously, it makes us laugh to even think that way.
Going forward….The hospital envisions tearing down the entire building that our project will be housed in, in about 7 years. And they want the Evans’ family to be a part of the next building that would include a similar project. Obviously, we would learn a lot over the next 7 years, a lot of money could be raised, new donors could be added, etc.
From our viewpoint….even though this was not even on our radar screen at the beginning, we now realize that this is EXACTLY the best way for us to begin the process of much bigger projects in years to come. It’s on a much smaller scale than our original plan to build a transplant house. But it is also a wonderful way to get our feet wet and to gain a lot of expertise. We still have big dreams of building many transplant houses in many different places. But going forward, however than might look, we will have Piedmont’s name behind us and that will be invaluable.
One last thing…this project will be called “The Jeffrey Campbell Evans House.” Mendal has told us that when a real person (Jeff) becomes the main emphasis of any project that a hospital takes on, it makes all the difference. He actually showed us where the signs will be placed, and the wall where our family, and more importantly, the Jeff story will be told. Bottom line…this is ALL about honoring Jeff and his valiant fight against a hideous disease that eventually took his life. He was a real trouper. We say the absolute truth when we tell you we NEVER heard one word of complaint from him in the three years he dealt with his illness. We are simply the family that misses him desperately, longing for the time when we will be reunited with him. In the meantime, we will spend our days bringing some sense to loosing him by offering comfort to others who are walking the same path. And it will all be done in God’s way and in God’s timing. He is in control.