It’s 2018. Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air, but there appears to be a little more love than usual. The doors to the Orlando Fisher House, located on the Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center property right in the heart of Lake Nona, open. The rush of love and support comes flooding out.
Flash forward to exactly one year later, and that feeling never left. It’s like a constant cloud of love and support hovers over the house, and with good reason.
“Fisher Houses are built on the premise that ‘a family’s love is good medicine,’ and when a loved one is ill or injured, a Fisher House unites families and caregivers, relieving the financial and emotional strain of being away from home,” said Orlando Fisher House manager Terri Turner.
It’s now Feb. 14, 2019, and VA employees, veterans, families and friends all came out to celebrate the Orlando Fisher House’s one-year anniversary. The turnout from the community was more than Turner had expected. In those short 365 days that flew by, the Fisher House has helped 1,231 guests since the first guests walked through its doors on April 2, 2018. A total of 204 tours have been given, and 32 community groups have prepared meals for the guests at an average of three per month.
For those of you who don’t know about the Fisher House, it’s a “14,500-square foot comfort home that provides free lodging to loved ones of our hospitalized Central Florida Veterans.” To really put into perspective just how important the Orlando Fisher House is, our local heroes and their families have saved thousands upon thousands of dollars by staying in the house. Turner described how the longest stay for a single guest was 28 days long, which would have been approximately $4,900 at $175 a night, but thanks to the Fisher House, the guest only had to worry about their loved ones in the hospital and not a hefty hotel bill.
In the year the house has had its doors open, 779 rooms have been occupied, which Turner explained saved the veterans families about $130,000.
Two more celebrations took place on the 14th, including a plaque presentation to the Opoliner family, who donated $100,000 in honor of their husband and father, as well as the groundbreaking of the new climate-controlled storage unit (which will be designed with similar architecture to look like an identical, yet mini, version of the Orlando Fisher House). Lockheed Martin contributed $33,000 toward the storage unit.
Looking to get involved? There are many ways to assist the Orlando Fisher House, such as:
- Have a meal catered
- Prepare a meal in the house’s gourmet kitchen
- Become a “Baking Buddy”
- Donate travel-size toiletry items
- Host a donation drive for non-perishables, paper products, comfort items, and more!
The house’s current needs include:
- Individual yogurt
- Large apple juice, orange juice, and cranberry juice
- Catered meals
- Individual refrigerated snacks (apples, carrots with ranch, celery/cheese/ranch, etc.)
- Gift cards (Walmart, Publix, Lowe’s, local restaurants)
So here’s to you, Terri Turner, and the rest of the staff at the Orlando Fisher House! Cheers to another successful year full of love and support for our country’s more-than-deserving heroes!