Recently, I volunteered with fellow fraternity members at the Bannister Family House, a local program that helps give patients receiving ongoing treatment at Hillcrest and their families a home away from home. Never did I expect it to impact me in such a profound way. As we ate with the guests at the dinner table, hearing phrases like "It's been a while since we've had a real dinner like this," or "How refreshing it is to hear music being played," was incredibly humbling. The patients and their families were so grateful for everything, especially grateful for the break Bannister House could provide them from the bleakness of constant treatment in a hospital. Their days are filled with endless monitoring and continual check-ups with doctors and nurses, but the saving grace is a building no further than 100 feet away from the hospital, that looks and feels like a home. Before that, I never really thought about what patients do when they are being treated for prolonged periods. I forgot how they stay in cold, white rooms filled with medical equipment, missing the cozy touch their homes had always provided. I was especially moved by a young woman who described the experience of losing her home, considered the foundation of her life. Rising hospital bills lead to its foreclosure, and when she had returned to visit one last time, the building no longer welcomed her like it once did. She was disheartened for a long time as she waited for a transplant that would save her life. That day finally came, July 4th, when the long-awaited organ had arrived. She told me she considers it a second birthday, a pivotal day that gave meaning to her life once again—with an added plus: every year those fireworks go off in the sky, reminding her that, as she says, "I'm still alive and I'm not giving up the fight."
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