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Hospital guest house drive slow process

Sue Guinn Legg • Sep 25, 2013 at 10:17 AM

Now in its eighth year, the capital campaign to build a new Hospital Guest House of Southern Appalachia is progressing slowly and remains in need of a good, strong shot in the arm.

With the proceeds from its annual benefit golf tournament last week at the Johnson City Country Club, the campaign fund is nearing $150,000, an increase of nearly $30,000 since 2010 and still more than $750,000 short of the $900,000 needed for construction.

Chuck Randolph, treasurer of the nonprofit guest house’s board of directors, said, “That’s a good amount for us to have in that fund. And the board works. But to do what we want to do, it’s going to take a lot more than that.”

With the current guest house located in a 100-year-old, two-story home without handicap access to its four second-level bedrooms and single bath, the board’s goal is to build a 10-bedroom, handicap accessible guest house to provide affordable overnight accommodations for families from outside the area with loved ones receiving care at area hospitals.

In addition to the cash that has been raised, Randolph said the project has received substantial in-kind gifts from local architectural and construction professionals and from Johnson City Medical Center, which has designated a building site adjacent to JCMC and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus where the current guest house is located.

Despite its lack of handicap access and other basic amenities, Randolph says the existing guest house consistently operates at capacity and the need for more room is evident.

“We’ve presented our plans to (city and county) governments and (hospital) systems. Everyone we talk to tells us it’s a great ministry. Everyone says, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go, go, go.’ And then nothing else.

“We always have our eyes open and our ears open for any grant that many help us. We’ve done our annual golf tournament, which is probably our biggest fundraiser. We’ve had a fashion show at the Castle Clinic. We had a music event at The Charles. We’ve done holiday gift wrapping. And we’re always open to any fresh ideas or anyone who wants to partner up with us.”

But the bottom is, “It’s tough to raise funds in the economy we have,” Randolph said.

“I think what it’s going to take is for one, two or three really high profile people to get involved and decide this is good for the community, this will help a lot of people who are going through difficult times, and really get the ball rolling.

“If anyone wants to build the house, we’ll name the house after them. Or if anyone wants to build a room, we’ll name the room after them. If anyone wants to make a sizable contribution, we can work that in. And we’re always looking for board members and need good board members for a very good cause.”

In the meantime, information about the current guest house’s operations, including its self-sustaining budget and plans for the new house, including architect’s renderings, can be found online at www.hospitalguesthouse.com. More information may also be obtained by calling the guest house at 926-0233.

For those who wish to help, tax-deductible donations may be made at the website or by mail to Hospital Guest House, P.O. Box 3973, Johnson City, TN 37602.

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