By Jeremy Matusow
Community leaders of Long Beach aspire to bring a Fisher House to the city. The Fisher House is a private foundation for families of patients receiving medical care who are military veterans or currently serving in the military. Since the Fisher House has recently joined partners with the VA Hospitals, the two have decided to attempt to raise $6 million for a Fisher House to be built locally in 2014.
After groundbreaking, it will take approximately 18 to 24 months to complete the facility. Houses are anywhere from 5,000 to 16,000 square feet that are donated by the Fisher House Foundation. They can house 16 to 42 family members and feature a living room, dining room, kitchen as well as laundry facilities.
Terry Geiling, president & CEO of American Gold Star Manor in West Long Beach, is an advocate for the Fisher House facilities. His facility currently has 430 senior retirees living in the apartments. Also known as Gold Star Mothers, the facility houses eligible survivors of veterans or those killed in action. Currently, there are over 80 veterans waitlisted, with 40 more to come.
The program to bring a Fisher House to Long Beach was launched Jan. 31 by a committee of Long Beach area residents. The facility is set to be located on the grounds of the VA Medical Center.
Geiling, who was in attendance, is thrilled to be launching the event.
“The community is very proud of this program,” said Geiling. The CEO of the VA Medical Center, Isabel Duff, made it very clear how proud she was of the launch as well.”
Fisher Houses are typically given to the U.S. Government as a reward. Secretaries of Veterans Affairs as well as secretaries of military service are responsible for the operation and maintenance of the homes. The foundation is a not-for-profit organization under section 501C(3) of the IRS code. This provides public support for the homes, assists in private support as well as the building of new houses.
Since its inception in 1990, there have been nearly 160,000 families served at these facilities. There are 4,690,000 lodging days available. Fisher Houses have saved families more than $200 million in lodging and transportation costs.
Charity Navigator, an independent, non-profit organization that evaluates American charities, gave Fisher House a four stars (out of four) rating.
The American Institute of Philanthropy, which is also a non-profit organization, rated the facilities an A+.
In 2012, the Fisher House facilities served over 19,000 families. The average length of stay for each family was 10 days. The average in combat casualties was between 45 to 60 days, with a daily lodging capacity of 735 families. The Fisher House saved families more than $30 million in lodging costs as well as food and transportation.
The Fisher House Foundation assists in several major programs that help to improve the lives of these military families. Such places include Hero Miles, which allows donated frequent flyer miles to be used to bring family members to the bedside of injured soldiers.
They also support Newman’s Own, which supports other military charities as well as Scholarships for Military Children that provides scholarships to children of military families.
The Fisher House of Southern California, Inc. needs the support of the community to help raise funds for a facility in Long Beach. To volunteer or donate, visit www.fisherhousesocal.org or call (562) 432-8252.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski