SOUTH BUFFALO, NY- If you've ever dealt with a health crisis, you know you need all the support you can get. One "Good Neighbor" in South Buffalo, saw that need, and did something to help.
Cindy Battista, a wife and full-time working mother of 3, was inspired in November 2013 when a colleague told her about his experience staying in a healthcare hospitality house.
"I knew as he was telling me about it, that that was what I was supposed to do. For me it's a calling," said Battista.
The Buffalo Medical Campus already had the Ronald McDonald House and Kevin Guest House, and there's also the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Buffalo, but Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo had nothing. So Battista called the hospital about her grand idea.
"I knew we needed it for Mercy. We are the regional heart center for Catholic Health and advanced stroke center so we have people that are coming from 50 miles or more away, so we need a place to house the families," said Anne McGillicuddy, Mercy Hospital Director of Volunteers.
So Battista said she simply Googled what to do. She created a non-profit 501-C-3, formed a board of directors, started fundraising, took out a home equity loan, found a benefactor with a low-income loan, and bought the former St. John the Evangelist church rectory less than a mile from Mercy.
"I've never felt more alive because it's like you have a purpose," said Battista.
The sprawling 5,000 square foot home located at 2315 Seneca Street was built in 1930. It has high ceilings, original woodwork, and lots of natural light from the leaded glass windows.
All 9 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms came fully updated and furnished because the seller had originally planned to use it for a Bed and Breakfast. It has a large kitchen, dining room with a fireplace, two sitting areas, and a large porch.
"It's named Grace Guest House for the Grace of God, because there's no way without that, that this could happen," Battista said.
They hope to open in December with one full-time employee to start, and they'll rely on volunteers and donations to help to keep it open. The goal is to serve 1000 families a year- families who in the midst of a health crisis will always have a place to call home.
"To be able to play a small role in bringing this enormous thing to the community and to so many families, I feel humbled and grateful," Battista said.
Grace Guest House is open right now for tours, so you can find out more about how they are helping their neighbors and how you can help them.
They're in need of things like a van for transporting families to and from the hospital, as well as interns, volunteers, and cash donations.
Find out more about Grace Guest House here.
If you know of a "Good Neighbor" who should be recognized by 2 On Your Side, e-mail Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com or call 716-849-2216.