“I want to tell you about a unique non-profit organization that reaches out to families that are struggling with a medical crisis. The National Association of Hospital Hospitality Houses is a network of houses all around the United States. They provide lodging and support for people of all ages and all walks of life who are dealing with medical emergencies far from their homes. Hospitality Houses have been one of the world’s best kept secrets.” Barbara Bush, Former First Lady
One of these best kept secrets opened in Amarillo in September 2010. The Medical Center League House, located in the heart of the Harrington Regional Medical Center at 7000 Amarillo Blvd., has been a joint project developed by Harrington Regional Medical Center, Baptist Community Services, and the Junior League of Amarillo. The synergy created by these three organizations working together has made this facility a reality.
The idea began with the dream and passion of Dick Rathgeber, a philanthropist and Austin business-man who has spearheaded the development of ten Hospitality Houses throughout Texas. Dick met Susie O’Brien, a sustaining member of The Junior League of Amarillo, at an Austin fundraiser and asked her if there was a Hospitality House in Amarillo. When Susie said “No”, he proceeded to tell her about the Hospitality House concept and its mission. He also explained that he usually likes to approach the Junior League in an area, because Junior League members know how to fund raise and complete a project.
Susie returned to Amarillo excited to tell her cohorts in the Junior League of Amarillo about the possibility of building a Hospitality House. The Junior League began talking to various constituencies at the Medical Center and in the community in order to determine if there was a need for such a facility. The members of The Junior League concluded that a Hospitality House was in fact desperately needed at the Medical Center in Amarillo, and would be a significant benefit for not only the Medical Center but also for the people of the surrounding towns in the Panhandle who utilize the Medical Center.
“A Hospitality House in our community is extremely needed. We have so many patients and families from the surrounding area that will benefit from the Medical Center League House. Night after night, families sleep in chairs in waiting rooms so they can be near their critically ill loved ones. I anticipate that it will be utilized to its full capacity daily.” Jennifer Wheeler, Director of Case Management at BSA
With Dick’s commitment of $200,000, The Junior League voted to proceed with the project and began fundraising, with the leadership of Stacey Harwell and Lori Henke, seeking to match his pledge. This was followed by a matching pledge from local philanthropist, Sharon Oeschger, whose gift precipitated numerous pledges and donations from various foundations, trusts and generous individuals. Sharon and Dick were named Honorary Co-Chairs of the Medical Center League House project. The land where the facility was to be situated was donated by Harrington Regional Medical Center. Fundraising efforts continued and were rewarded with financial commitments from surrounding communities to purchase and name specific rooms throughout the facility.
“It’s just a guaranteed success of a project and that’s exciting to a businessman. The fundraising is easy, because everyone likes to give to something that makes their brother‘s load a little lighter. Giving people a nice place to stay when their loved one is sick is just a winner of an idea. You touch thousands of lives a year.” Dick Rathgeber
Sharon Oeschger, a Junior League Sustainer, has been a vital part of this endeavor. Sharon shares the giving heart of Dick and has poured her heart and soul into this project, not to mention her continued financial support. There were times when this project came to a stand still, and Sharon was always there to keep pushing the League House to completion.
After eight years of fundraising, The Medical Center League House began construction in the fall of 2009. Architect Gregg Bliss, was hands on working closely with Pioneer General Contractors and Cleve Turner, the landscape architect. The interior design and purchasing of the furniture was completed by a committee comprised of Junior League members, led by Amber Glawe. Amber’s experience in hotel purchasing was invaluable to the project. Bray Whaler International, a contract purchasing company for commercial properties, donated their services which allowed Amber to purchase the furniture, carpeting, and wallcoverings at significant savings. Tri-Tex Enterprises donated blackout lining and sheers for the window treatments, including fabricating and installing the drapes. Other Vendors including, Serta Mattresses, Brinton’s Carpeting, Koroseal Wallcoverings, Carson’s Hospitality, JTB Furniture, American Hotel and Standard Textiles made generous contributions to the League House through price reductions and donations. As the construction came to a close, Baptist Community Services began its commitment to manage the League House. It hired Amber Glawe to be the Executive Director for the facility in July 2010.
“Baptist Community Services felt that it was evident that she had a passion for this project and a true understanding of its mission, and therefore was a natural fit to manage this Hospitality House.” Paula Bliss, League House Board member and Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Baptist Community Services
The two-story, hotel-like facility opened with its first guests in the fall of 2010. The League House has 31 guest rooms (two ADA) containing 2 queen beds, with private bathroom. The facility has a living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, multipurpose room, and a prayer garden. The multi-purpose room is available to the guests as well as to the public to hold meetings or other functions. The League House is a non-profit organization, relying on contributions and in-kind donations for its operations. A nightly $45.00 donation is requested, but charitable assistance is available to guests, according to need.
The mission of the Medical Center League House is to serve as a home away from home for patients and their families coming to Amarillo, Texas for health care treatments. It seeks to provide comfortable and affordable lodging in a caring environment of support and assistance.
Many giving opportunities remain to partner with the League House through naming opportunities, bricks, trees, and benches for the Jatawn Wells prayer garden expansion project, and donations to the Adopt the House Fund. This House is a beautiful blessing to the Panhandle, one of which Amarillo can be proud.
“Won’t you please help these ‘homes that help and heal’ become known to the world?” Barbara Bush
For more information about the Medical Center League House giving opportunities, or to make a reservation call 806-358-3759.
If anyone has ever received medical care in another city, you know the importance of having a good place to stay. It is this same reason that so many people in the surrounding cities have given money to MCLH. When a city raises enough money, a room will be named after them.
The following communities have raised funds towards a room named for their community: Amarillo, Borger, Childress, Dalhart, Dumas, Gruver, Hereford, Pampa, Perryton, Shamrock, Spearman, Stratford, Tucumcari, Wheeler.
In addition to these cities, the following have guest rooms in their honor: Canyon (The Jatawn Wells Prayer Garden), Harrington Cancer Center (The Princess Warriors Room), Diane Stapleton Rooms, and the Waite and Genevieve Phillip Foundation.
There are only 5 guest rooms left. If you want your hometown represented, you must act soon!
As this is being written, a total of $2,147,194 has been given and/or pledged to this project. This includes the generous donation from four individuals and groups: Dick Rathgeber, an Austin businessman who has contributed to eight hospitality houses in the Southwest area; the Junior League of Amarillo; The Amarillo Area Foundation; and the donation of land and cash from Harrington Regional Medical Center, Inc. In addition to these large donations, we have received more than $65,000 from Sustainers of the Junior League of Amarillo, $40,000 from area physicians, $30,000 in brick sales, and more than $180,000 from other foundations. The project will cost around $3.5 million to I build and furnish. Our hope is that with the last remaining grants and opportunities of giving, we can break ground in 2008!
Thank you to the C.J. & Syble Foundation for their contribution of $95,000 to this project!
It’s official!! Harrington Regional Medical Center, Inc. deeds over land to the Medical Center League House!
In March 2007, Baptist Community Services became another partner in the development of MCLH. Their ability to manage and operate residential facilities makes them the perfect candidate to take over the management of the facility after the construction.
“This ground breaking is possible because of a lot of hard work from the Junior League and their many partners. Thanks for making this vision a reality for the Panhandle of Texas. It brings joy to my heart to see how this medical center has grown and benefits our area because it was very important to my mother. She was on the BSA Board, Harrington Cancer Center Advisory Committee and served on many other health related organizations. I want to share with you my Mother’s no fail recipe success — It
consists of three L’s. Put the LORD first, with a heart full of LOVE and a will to LABOR.
Words are inadequate as we attempt to express our thanks for your gifts of money, your time, and prayers for this project. The Bible verse that best expresses what’s in my heart is “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gifts.”
“Wahooooooooo!” was a victory yell heard throughout the Texas panhandle on Friday, October 3, as the Junior League of Amarillo, Baptist Community Services, Harrington Regional Medical Center, and supporters from across the twenty-six counties celebrated the official ground breaking for the Medical Center League House.
Approximately 300 community members gathered at 2:00 p.m. at the site of the future League House to see the first ground officially turned. Lifting shovels were Lori Henke and Stacey Harwell (JLA co- chairs of the MCLH project), Gary Wells (President of the MCLH Board of Trustees), Dick Rathgeber and Sharon Oeschger (Honorary Co—Chairpersons), Tim Holloway of Baptist Community Services, and Danny McWhorter of Harrington Regional Medical Center. Past JLA presidents Chas Massey, Cherie Sanders, Karen Isern, and Jan Shank as well as many other J LA members, Mayor Debra McCartt of Amarillo and representatives from communities such as Dalhart, Shamrock, and Stratford were in attendance for this historic occasion.
For those of you who haven’t heard yet, the Medical Center League House is the signature project that the Junior League of Amarillo elected to plan and develop. Its purpose is to serve as a home away from home for adult patients and their families who have traveled to Amarillo to receive medical treatment. It will provide not only a safe place for these people to stay but also an opportunity to receive social support from people who are facing similar circumstances. It will be located in the Medical Center and will complement the mission of the Ronald McDonald House.
Thus fan the plans for the two story facility comprise of 30 guest rooms, a kitchen area, a family/ gathering area, an exercise room, and a prayer garden. There is the option of adding more rooms in the future. The total cost for the project is estimated at 2.8 million which includes the construction and furnishings. As this is being written, a total of $l .8 million in pledges has been given. This includes the generous donation of Dick Rathgeber, an Austin businessman who has contributed to seven hospitality houses in the Southwest area, and The Junior League of Amarillo. Along with these pledges, Harrington Regional Medical Center has agreed to donate the land. Baptist Community Services and Harrington Regional Medical Center Inc. will take over the ownership of the building after its built. The Medical Center League House will be its own 50l (c)3 and a nine member board was created to keep it functioning.
The development of the Medical Center League House is the joint responsibility of three local, non-profit organizations: Baptist Community Services, Harrington Regional Medical Center, and the Junior of League of Amarillo. Baptist Community Services evolved from the merger of High Plains Baptist Hospital and St. Anthony‘s Hospital in l996. High Plains Baptist Hospital was envisioned by local men and women in the late l950s and early l960s, and became a major medical center on the western edge of Amarillo.
As the medical services industry grew and the population of the surrounding area aged, the need retirement and long—term care facilities began to make itself known. HPBH’s first step towards meeting these needs was the creation of Park Place Towers in l986, and further commitments towards meeting these needs were taken with the purchase of the Continental Retirement Center (l99l), the construction of the Ware Memorial and Assisted Living Center (l993), the Harrington Assisted Living Center (2002), the creation of the Talmage and Plemons Court housing for senior adults (2003), and The Arbors nursing home facility (2004). In addition to meeting the needs of the region’s senior population, HPBH also purchased and managed the Amarillo Town Club — a wellness club – for the benefit of families in the Amarillo area; the oversight for this organization, as for all of the others listed above, was transferred to Baptist Community Services during the 1996 hospitals merger.