Caring for Families in Crisis

Caring for Families in Crisis

Grant Year: 2021 | Focus Area: Family | Grant Amount: $101,820 | Grant Status: In Progress

Caring for Families in Crisis

Martha's Vineyard Foundation, Inc. dba Vineyard Family House

The Vineyard Family House (VFH) is a faith-based respite house offering a home away from home where critical care families can come for rest, meals, support and friendship. Similar to the way Ronald McDonald House takes in immediate family members of hospitalized children 21 years and younger, out of town families with adult patients are offered a place to stay at VFH so they can focus on their injured or ill loved ones. VFH welcomes all types of families in need, without regard to religion, race, gender, or financial ability, so the patient may recover faster when not feeling the wilting effects of the situation on their loved ones. In addition to traditional lodging rooms, VFH offers “isolation” rooms, specifically designed for those with immune-suppressed systems and their caregivers. The majority of houseguests are from the Panhandle but live at least 30 miles from Pensacola. Local palliative care and hospice facilities have utilized the guest accommodations, and VFH regularly serves the families of military personnel from local bases who have been injured or have a medical crisis. Since opening in 2010, VFH has hosted over 1,400 family members from 44 states and 11 foreign countries.


Project Description

In July 2019, VFH purchased a house at 110 West Strong Street that offers 7 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms. Creating a healing environment that is comfortable, dependable, peaceful, friendly, safe and accessible is a priority. Doing this requires (1) providing uninterrupted power in the event of an outage to ensure refrigeration of food and medications, lights, and comfort for guests, (2) constructing a ground floor bedroom and bath for mobility challenged guests, (3) ensuring consistent and efficient heating and cooling, and (4) accommodating a greater number of guests for dining. IMPACT 100 grant funds will be used for the purchase and installation of a 25-kw gas-fired generator with an automatic transfer switch. An existing dining room will also be converted into a bedroom and the only full downstairs bathroom. This in addition to a stairlift added to the kitchen stairs, will better accommodate the needs of guests with mobility issues. A reconfiguration of the existing kitchen will increase the space in the common area, allowing for a farmhouse table that can accommodate 12 people, promoting a greater sense of community. Finally, funds will be used to replace the existing HVAC units with more efficient 4-ton and 3.5-ton Bryant systems.

Community Impact

The goal of these projects is to provide the highest level of care and support for the families in this, their time of greatest need. The expected impact is to better accommodate guests, make the lodging more accessible for people of all mobility levels, increase the number of guests served, and enhance the integrity of the space provided. Renovating the facility’s infrastructure will alleviate logistical problems and ensure suitable housing for the unique needs of guests and the medically challenged. Family members with physical limitations will have a downstairs bedroom option or a method to access the upstairs bedrooms. The downstairs reconfiguration will allow better guest flow during dining, and the generator will guard against the inconveniences and perils that result from heat, darkness, lack of refrigeration, and/or potentially loss of medical devices used daily by guests. With a commitment to meeting the unexpected needs of families in Pensacola, VFH provides families a home away from home at no cost to them when they need it most.