By Stacey Gillis
The Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce recently gave a boost to the care and comfort of military families.
At the chamber's monthly luncheon last week, members presented Fort Bragg's Fisher House with a check for $4,787.12, proceeds from the chamber's annual charity golf classic tournament.
Paula Gallero, director of the Fisher House, was overwhelmed with gratitude.
"Oh my goodness, thank you," Gallero said as she accepted the check.
Gallero explained that the funds will be used for upkeep and maintenance of the Fort Bragg Fisher House.
"It's to the point now that we have a waiting list,'' she said. "We hopefully will be getting a bigger house by the first of next year.''
The Fisher House is a nonprofit organization that provides free, temporary housing to military families of patients receiving treatment at the local military medical center. The Fisher House at Fort Bragg opened in 1993 and is within walking distance of Womack Army Medical Center. It has seven rooms and can accommodate up to 23 people.
Currently, there are 57 Fisher Houses in operation, throughout the United States and Germany.
"The house is a home away from home. It's a home; it's not sterile like a motel,'' Lorie Southerland said. "It helps the soldiers heal faster because somebody is there."
In April 2007, Southerland's son, Spc. Michael Rodriguez, was killed in action in Iraq. Southerland's family used the accommodations of the Fort Bragg Fisher House to house out-of-town family.
"The Fisher House is also for Gold Star families and veterans," explained Southerland, who is now Gallero's assistant at the Fort Bragg house. "It's such a godsend when you do need it, to find out that it is there."
Jan Spell, president of the Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce, was happy that the chamber selected the charity and is able to assist with helping local soldiers and their families.
"We felt the Fisher House would help out our wounded warriors in a local way," said Spell, who presented the check. "I felt great about it. I only wish it could have been more. Without everybody's help and our sponsors, we could not have done it."
After the check presentation, Gallero presented a plaque of appreciation to the Chamber of Commerce.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski