Just over 10 years ago, the SECU Family House on the Richard J. Reynolds III and Marie M. Reynolds Campus opened their doors at the end of Hospice Lane. The mission of the SECU Family House is to provide affordable lodging and support services in a caring environment for adult patients and/or their caregivers coming in from outside Forsyth County to receive treatment at one of Winston-Salem’s medical centers.
How it all started. In 2000, Winston-Salem residents, Beth and Sandy Baldwin’s adult son, Branner, needed specialized treatment for an aggressive form of cancer. At the advice of their local oncologist, they traveled out of Forsyth County to receive specialized treatment in Pennsylvania. While Branner received treatment, the Baldwins stayed at a hospital hospitality house for four months. Sadly, Branner passed away soon after returning to Winston-Salem. Beth and Sandy used their son’s memory to ignite a committee tasked with creating a similar home away from home in Winston-Salem. The community need was great. The committee found that hundreds of families were sleeping in hospital waiting rooms and their cars, not being able to afford the cost of a hotel room on top of expensive medical bills. After years of hard work, collaboration with the medical centers, and support from the entire community, the SECU Family House opened its doors to guests in September 2011.
The Family House has 45 bedrooms with queen beds, their own private bathrooms, a beautiful kitchen, dining room, living room, outdoor patios and a park, and other comfortable common areas for the families to relax. The house is designed to provide respite in an environment where caregivers have the fellowship and support of other families in similar situations. The facility includes guest laundry and transportation to medical appointments. Guests are asked to pay $40 per night, and a Family Assistance Fund is available for low-income families to help subsidize the nightly expense. Volunteers provide evening meals four nights per week and offer helpful support and hospitality inside the house and offsite. Donors provide in-kind donations of breakfast and snack items, allowing guests to relax knowing their basic needs are being met. Additional therapeutic services are offered such as therapy dogs and art therapy. “It’s more than just a place to stay”, said Kathy Carr, executive director. “Visitors are finding connections and getting support. …It just sort of makes you feel like you’re back at home.”
The SECU Family House is a non-profit agency and relies upon donations, volunteers, and community support to stay in operation. Although guests are asked to pay $40 per night, the true cost of a night is $85. The impact the SECU Family House is having on the community is great. In 2021, the Family House provided 12,221 nights of care to patients/caregivers, saving guests a total of $1,038,785 had they stayed at a hotel instead of the Family House. 59% of the Family House’s guests are North Carolina residents, but guests come from all over the United States to receive care in Forsyth County. Since 2011, the Family House has cared for over 45,000 guests.
Please visit www.familyhousews.org or contact 336-793-2822 for more information on how to stay at the Family House, or how you can get involved with volunteer and donor opportunities.
SECU stands for State Employees’ Credit Union. This statewide credit union has adopted as one of its charitable causes the establishment of Hospital Hospitality Houses in selected communities that are home to regional medical centers.