By Matt Lucas
A Piketon woman is hoping to turn a personal loss into a way to help others going through similar situations.
Sue Altherr, whose husband Lenny Altherr passed away from lung cancer earlier this year, is trying to start a county-wide fund-raiser for the Fisher House, a nonprofit facility right next to the Veterans (VA) Hospital in Cincinnati. The house is an 11,000 square foot home with 16 private guest suites for military veterans and their families to stay in free of charge while undergoing treatment at the hospital.
The Altherrs stayed at Fisher House from August 2009 to April 2010. “It’s run completely by donations,” Altherr said.
The house includes both a large community living room and a large community dining room as well as a fully-stocked kitchen. Altherr mentioned that the Fisher House is not only handy because it is close to the hospital but saves families a lot of money on hotel rooms and eating out. She explained that the Fisher House is always full and that families help counsel each other while staying there.
“We were all in different stages of something,” she said. “It was just like having a social worker there 24-7. We were social workers with each other ... We all shared what we had.”
Lenny Altherr was a Marine and a veteran of the Korean War, and his wife is calling the fundraiser “Lenny’s Friends of the Fisher House”. She is hoping to have the event on Veterans Day, Monday, November 11, and she would like to have Pike County residents contact her with ideas so that she can hold an organizational meeting in the near future.
“Times are really hard economically, so some of the people who used to donate really big, I’m sure are cutting donations to the Fisher House. I want to make sure they have enough.”
Altherr said that there are no county-wide fund-raisers for the Fisher House in Cincinnati that she is aware of, and she would like Pike County to be the first to hold one. She has already made a patriotic quilt that she is raffling off for a dollar a ticket or $5 for six tickets. The proceeds from the sale will benefit Fisher House.
“There are 88 counties in this state, and if each county would do something, anything ... a raffle, a Chinese auction, a spaghetti dinner ... and donate everything they make one day a year ... That’s what I would like to see us build on ... Somebody from every county, I guarantee you, has been in that Fisher House.”
Altherr mentioned that she saw several people from Pike County there during her stay.
“I’d like to see other people get involved. I know that there are several people here in Pike County who I saw while I was over there. I’d like to see everybody get together and come up with an idea. I’d like to see us come up with something different.”
Altherr emphasized that she wants to see people from every part of Pike County get involved with this event.
There are Fisher House facilities throughout the United States and in Germany including one at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Some of them are geared more towards veterans, and some of them are open to currently-enlisted men and women.
For more information on Fisher House, go to fisherhouse.org. To contact Sue Altherr with ideas or to purchase raffle tickets for the quilt, call 740-289-4207.
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- Kamryn Jaroszewski