Friday, December 4, 2009

Mind at Work…the name of a survey worth your time!

We received a note from one of our dearest friends who said that all he wanted for Christmas this year was another 300 people to assist him with a survey which he described as “one supreme project, one last potential contribution, which could turn out to be the most significant of all: my field research on spirituality.”

Daniel A. Helminiak is Professor in the humanistic and transpersonal Department of Psychology at the University of West Georgia. A Catholic priest, licensed professional counselor, and certified pastoral counselor, he holds PhD’s in both theology and psychology.

Daniel introduces his survey this way: People think differently. How does the human mind actually work? Help us to find out. Participate in an on-line survey. The questionnaire will help you think about your own thinking. And your responses will help us figure out what it is to be human. Log on at

We took the survey and find it interesting. Read the opening introduction and then proceed. Perhaps 30 minutes of your time. Your participation is very much appreciated from a couple of friends who want to see this “supreme project” a supreme success.

Blessings…Revs. Elisheva and T. Wade Clegg III

Friday, November 27, 2009

Diversity of Couples In Love

Love has no boundaries. Love is all inclusive. She is Jewish, and he is Christian. She is Muslim, and he is Hindu. She is Buddhist, and he is Baptist. She is Christian, and he is Humanist. She is black, and he is white. She is Asian, and he is Caucasian.

Of course we perform same faith, same culture and non-religious ceremonies, but this rather concise article addresses the greater diversity of couples in love. Also, the greater challenges.

Interfaith, interracial, intercultural marriages are increasing. By the time the couple stands in front of us on their wedding day, we have met many of them, and most certainly had numerous conversations and emails. Of significant importance, we have the answers to the questionnaires we provided to them.

Those questionnaires allow us to get to know a couple on a more intimate level for a personalized ceremony. In many instances we will have had conversations and written exchanges with parents and siblings. Not all situations allow for total family contact, but if we have any doubt, we simply ask the couple if they are open to contact with family members. When possible, our aim is to incorporate religious and cultural backgrounds of both families, and intertwine the elements to include, and bring those differences together, in one ceremony.

On occasion a couple enters into conversation with us with a sense of anxiety of how to please each family’s desire to have their culture or religion recognized. Sometimes, a family can cause undue pressure on a couple, as the couple seeks to please both parents. They are seeking balance , while hoping to have the ceremony incorporate their own ideas for the ceremony.

There are times when the minister must serve as the spokesperson for the couple to families, indicating the couples desire to be generous regarding family wishes. Parents may need to be reminded that their children are diligently seeking to incorporate the families, for it is a time of family bonding; but, this wedding is about the love of their children and their desires to reflect their personal hopes and dreams. THIS WEDDING will seek to personally engage and honor families, while giving priority to the couple.

It is a message which is generally quite difficult for many children to express to their families, especially when parents with strong religious or cultural leanings forget that this wedding must build a very permanent bridge between the families. Therefore the couple, with their minister, are determined to integrate as much familiarity as is possible with selected elements to reach that comfort zone for all.

There are some common denominators with these diversified couplings. Most couples have known each other for many years before deciding to get married. Both are well educated, accomplished in their professions, or highly educated for beginning their journey. Many are financially independent from each other. In a large majority of the cases, the parents are immigrants, and the children were born and raised in this country.

There is definitely a generational culture gap from parents born abroad with children raised in the United States. Couples are deeply respectful and sensitive to honor their family’s background . That objective is pursued and discussed to the degree that it allows for their own self-expression.

Most couples have found their own way of life when it comes to religion or belief, and they have developed their own new cultural rituals. It is always such a joy to realize that young people from such diverse backgrounds show so much compassion, respect, tolerance and acceptance towards the differences which exist in such a diverse culture as is prevalent in this country.

These couples have been further strengthened in finding a partner with whom each partner has determined that each can and will build their family unit through their appreciation of diversity.

Their upbringing and background has laid the foundation for such a positive development of character traits. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone, regardless of diverse differences, could develop the ability to accept, understand, and promote love for one another as exemplified by these beautiful loving couples?

We stay in contact with our couples, and as you can see on our website, we receive baby pictures (which we refer to as our “Spiritual Grandchildren”). It is so reassuring to know that these babies will grow up in a home where the first rule of law is LOVE, Tolerance, Compassion, Acceptance and Respect.

It gives us hope for the future of humanity.

Revs. Elisheva & T. Wade Clegg III

Monday, November 23, 2009

Remembrance of Stephan Mace

The bride looked beautiful and happy. The day was October 11, 2008. Vanessa, the bride, was escorted down the aisle by her son, Stephan, who was in his military uniform which he wore with pride. Standing in front of me, he presented his Mother to the groom, Richard Adelson.

Wade and I remember this day as if it was yesterday. We had such fond conversations and emails with Vanessa prior to the day of the wedding. But most informative were her answers to our questionnaire which revealed her love for her children. She would never have married anyone that would not have accepted her children and given them the love they deserved.

Throughout the ceremony I glanced at Stephan once in a while as he was watching his mom. He had this smile on his face that said, “You go mom! You deserve happiness!” During the reception, Wade and I had a little more time to talk to him at length.

He told us that he was going to deploy for Afghanistan very soon. He expressed his delight at the marriage of his mom to Richard knowing that his mom is going to miss him and worry about him so much. He was very glad that Richard would be there to support her while he was gone.

Stephan did not know when he spoke these words that, for the rest of Richard’s life, that would be his job without Stephan’s help. A year later, we were watching the evening news and hearing of the sad event in which eight of our soldiers had been killed earlier that day. No names were given at that time.

On October 21st I received an email from Vanessa in which she informed me that her son, Stephan, was one of those eight soldiers who had died on October 3rd in Afghanistan. Before I received Vanessa’s email , I was going through my listings of previous weddings to rejoice with them on their anniversary. I was preparing an announcement to Vanessa and Richard of congratulations on their first year. And, of course, I was about to ask how Stephan was doing, and when was he coming home.

I didn’t have a chance to send this email. One can only imagine the pain a mother feels and endures from the experience of losing a child. Nobody can truly understand, unless they have experienced it.

Stephan’s home town didn’t hold back in their support for Vanessa and her family. The funeral procession was shown on television as it progressed through the small town to the funeral home. Thousands of people lined the streets and paid homage to this fallen soldier of 21 years of age. He was buried at Arlington Cemetery with full military honors.

I can’t get Stephan’s smiling face out of my mind. I still see him escorting his mother across the grass on a perfect afternoon. I can still hear his voice telling Wade and me, “I will be fine.”

I will not make any political statements as to my feelings about this war. But one thing I know – this should NOT have happened! Such a promising young man – such a great personality and character – caring, loving, compassionate – I know this because I spoke to him during the preparation of my writing the ceremony. His mother’s happiness was SO important to him. He wanted her to have peace and love.
We will always remember Stephan.

Blessings…Elisheva Clegg

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Marriage Research

I was asked by doctoral student, Cristina Reitz-Krueger, for assistance with her web-based study of engaged couples. This will only relate to a few couples who are not yet married; however, I would like to encourage those particular couples to read the blog entry and participate. Cristina is a researcher in the University of Virginia Department of Psychology.

Thank you…Rev. Elisheva

Engaged volunteers needed!

I am looking for volunteers for a study of attitudes towards marriage and parenthood among engaged couples. The study consists of a 25-30 minute online survey. To qualify for the study, you must be 20-35 years old, live in the U.S., and plan to marry or have a commitment ceremony within the next 365 days. You and your romantic partner must not have children, and this must be the first marriage for both of you.

You can:

  • Help a doctoral candidate;
  • Increase the pool of scientific knowledge;
  • Support research on marriage and families; and
  • Spend some time thinking about your relationship!

I am working with Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. This study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board #2009025800.

If you and/or your romantic partner are interested in participating or want further information, please email me at I will send you a link that you can use to access the study.


Cristina Reitz-Krueger
Doctoral Student
University of Virginia
(434) 243-8558

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Modeling Humility, A common goal for believers and non-believers

This blog entry was provided by Rev. T. Wade Clegg III

Chambers Pocket Dictionary defines humanism as “seeking, without religion, the best in, and for, human beings.”

From an article in Dale McGowan’s book, “Parenting Beyond Belief,” (pages 123-125) Shannon and Matthew Cherry said, “That’s really how we see our job as parents: seeking to bring out the best in our children so that they can have the best in life.”

The article goes on to state, “The humanist tradition in the West has its roots in the Ancient Greek ideal of cultivating human excellence. There are many principles needed to bring out the best in people. But there is one value that keeps coming up in our discussions of how we raise good kids: respect.”

Their article is much more personal than this summary of thoughts. Still borrowing direct quotes from it, the Cherry’s reflections on teaching pride and respect to their twin daughters as a humanist family is valued information for all.

They go on to indicate that “respect means treating the world around us – and everyone in it – as valuable. It also means self-respect, or pride. They emphasize raising their girls to respect themselves, their surroundings, their pets; to value families, friends and neighbors. They don’t just mean an attitude of respect, but respectful behavior. They said that they see too many people who boast all the tolerant opinions required in a liberal society, but don’t actually accomplish much with their lives.”

They say, “Most challenging of all will be teaching respect for people who have different values – even people with beliefs we think are daft and behaviors we fear as dangerous. Philosophically, respect is at the heart of the major systems of morality: from the Golden Rule (treating others with the same respect with which we would want them to treat us) to Kant’s Categorical Imperative (that we must always treat people as ends in themselves and not merely as means to our own ends). “

The Cherrys point out that “philosophy won’t cut it with our infant girls. Their big blue eyes are constantly watching and learning from us. What matters to them is not the philosophy we preach, but how we practice those lofty principles.”

They continue, “To teach them respect, we need to model the right behavior. ‘Do what I say, not what I do,’ is not only unfair but just doesn’t work. Sooner or later, children see through hypocrisy, and will lose their respect for you or copy your hypocrisy – or both.”

The many paragraphs to follow are directly from the article, and there is no reason not to quote extensively, for they are excellent points to consider:

“It all sounds good on paper, but in reality it can be hard. That’s why, as parents we work on respect every day. It’s in the little things…

It’s when we volunteer for social justice groups or do the shopping for an elderly neighbor.

It’s when we are waiting in line, and see an opening to cut ahead of others. Even though our girls may be too young to realize it, we do the right thing and wait our turn – though waiting in line with twins gives you both motive and excuse to jump ahead!

And it’s in the big things…

It’s making their mother create a successful public relations business that allows her to work at home, while helping other women pursue their business goals. This shows the girls that with hard work, women have choices – many choices. And they can choose the options that work for them.

It’s making the choice to live in an urban – not suburban – neighborhood, where diversity reigns and people of all races, beliefs, classes and sexual preferences live together. When we sit on our stoop with our girls – along with the cats and dog – we talk with everyone, including the men living in the halfway house, the politicians, the families, the old, the young, and the homeless.

The girls will realize early on that living downtown isn’t always an episode from Sesame Street. Seeing disrespect out in public will open the door to interesting conversations around the dinner table about how we feel it was wrong and what we can do. And yes, having dinner together, with conversation, is another of our family goals.

Modeling respect means that we need to set a high standard for ourselves as parents. But we’re only human, not saints or superheroes. So when we screw up, we will need to admit it, apologize to everyone affected by it, and correct the situation to the best of our ability.”

I pause to interject, in case the reader does not realize that the Cherrys are a humanist family and religion does not play a role in their family. Yet, all of these comments should ring loudly and true regarding “respect,” whether one is a believer or not. Too often, both believers and non-believers are too quick to simply pre-judge and disregard the fact that most of our values in raising children are the same.

Continuing with quoted material from the Cherry article:

“Sure, God isn’t watching us – but our children certainly are!

We believe that the best foundation for respecting others is respect for oneself. Once our girls value themselves, it’s easier to teach them to respect their possessions, family, friends, and the world around them. We want them to have compassion, courage, and creativity, but to do that they need to develop a fourth C – confidence.

The Ancient Greeks taught that pride was a virtue; indeed, Aristotle said it was the crown of all the virtues. Yet many religions treat pride as a sin – especially for women and girls- and this attitude has seeped deep into our everyday culture. Maybe that’s why educators and parenting books use long-winded synonyms for pride, such as “self-confidence” and “self-esteem.” Pride may be the virtue that dare not speak its name, but all the children’s experts agree that “self-esteem” has been grievously neglected in our society.

Raising confident girls means encouraging them to explore their potential. Fulfilling their potential will take ambition, hard work, and deferred gratification; it requires self-discipline. We expect confident children to enjoy their accomplishments: They will have earned it. This kind of justified pride is very different from hubris or arrogance, with its overconfidence and disrespect for others.

The recipe for instilling self-confidence is well known. Every day we give our girls opportunities for success and the praise them when they achieve it – though it’s important to respond with genuine appreciation, rather than just rote flattery. When they struggle, we help them face their challenges. When they fail, we help them cope with their defeats and learn from them.

In reading about how to raise children with strong self-esteem, we’ve noticed that humanist values are emphasized again and again. For example, teaching children to critically examine their opinions and giving them the freedom and responsibility to act on their choices are among the best ways to build self-esteem.

Again, modeling plays a role as well; as parents, we celebrate our individual successes and when faced with a problem, help each other find a way to get through it. After all, it’s what a family is really about.”

I felt it was necessary to provide extended parts of an article from a family whose children are deeply loved and where parental devotion to their well-being is as deeply held as any Christian family raising their girls.

I suspect if the opening paragraphs were edited for most Christian parents ( and I use Christian since that is the majority of believers who will read this blog) then the description would read as “seeking through our religion the best in and for human beings.” In regards to what Christian parents might say, I feel rather positive that they also see their job as parents as “seeking to bring out the best in our children so that they can have the best in life,” plus there would be additional comments regarding guidance from God through Jesus Christ.

I do not for a moment believe that most Christian parents would remove the central value of this article, namely to raise good kids who value “respect.”

Dr. Dale McGowan, author of “Parenting Beyond Belief,” says “co-existence does not mean silent acceptance of all consequences of religious belief. To the contrary: Silence and inaction in the face of dangerous immorality is itself immoral. We have to engage religious people and institutions in just the way we wish to be engaged ourselves, as co-participants in the world.”

McGowan added, “We should reasonably but loudly protest the intolerance, ignorance, and fear that is born in religion while at the same time reasonably and loudly applauding religious people and institutions whenever charity, tolerance, empathy, honesty, and any other shared values are in evidence. An important part of this is recognizing that not all expressions of religion and not all religious people are alike.”

Importantly, he emphasized, directing his comments to a secular humanist reading audience, “Be sure to help kids recognize that the loudest, most ignorant, and most intolerant religious adherents – whether raving radical Muslim clerics or raving radical Christian televangelists – do not represent all believers, nor even the majority. “ McGowan also said, “The majority of individual believers are decent and thoughtful people with whom we have more in common than not.”

McGowan’s words are encouraging, as are the efforts of the Cherrys to raise their girls in a free American society, predominantly religious. The fact is; that is their right, and their children should feel the same security of right to not believe as religious children already feel. That sense of security for religious kids of course comes from their large communities, which reinforces their sense of belonging and has the opportunity and mandate to instill respect.

That sense of security can be facilitated by Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, ALL religious people of good faith by allowing that this country can only continue to exist when community comes first. Conversion may be the mandate for many religious folk, but without communion, there is only dissention, and you can forget about conversion. Give respect a chance.

I came from a small Alabama town with every conceivable Christian denomination and a large Jewish population. I was a free thinker, though fully indoctrinated in a singular denomination, but every single humanist value in this article was integral to being a Christian in the old Southern Baptist Church. I did not know what the words humanistic values meant, while all along practicing them. Of course I was soaked in dogmatism, but all of those universal vaIues were what it truly meant to walk the Christian walk. I did know, as I still do, that when one asked: Are you doing God’s will? I answer, if by God’s will you mean man’s well-being…YES …Definitely!

Final notes: Dale McGowan’s book is entitled “Parenting Beyond Belief,” a valuable education. Some essays will displease some readers who are believers, and also some nonbelievers, but for the open –minded, it’s an exercise in learning of the Humanist perspective from nonbelievers of all stripes.

The author states that “there are many good ways to raise children, with or without religion.” Since children are our future and most precious commodity, if there is no religion in one’s life, or your children’ lives, then learn the best alternatives for instilling the values that count for a solid citizen of the world. The book will make you fully aware that “Religious parenting or not, without critical thinking, there is no progress.”

If one is determined to instill fear in a child through distrust of everyone not in their community, that child will crawl through life, handicapped, and never sense the freedom to run. Allow me to close with the final sentence in an essay by Dan Barker: “Religious or not, the best parents are the ones who prepare their children for this world first.”

Blessings…T. Wade

Monday, May 18, 2009

May 2009 Notice and Project Alert

This one page notice provides latest participation in support of the UVA Medical Center. If you have not read our initial 4-page handout either by mail, or in the blog entry here("We're Back and With a Powerful New Vehicle for Good') last month , then please go to the article below this one for a thorough review.

Beginning in April, now in May, we are funding two accounts in the UVA Medical Center Office of Social Work. One account pays for co-pays for Pay Range 1 (indigents) and the other account pays for local bus tickets for this same group for return home across town. These were unmet needs which encompass many local patients, but simply needed our earliest participation. It was simply too alarming to know that a patient could receive prescriptions, and not be able to meet the smallest co-pays, and then not have money for a bus ticket home in Charlottesville. We started where the need seemed most urgent, and we will fund these accounts monthly.

We have begun to assist those patients and families who cannot afford the $10 per night lodging offered by UVA Hospitality House. The first family stayed almost three weeks. It was a situation which involved three women visiting a dying brother who did not have the funds to stay during his last days. Our help allowed them to remain nearby at a pivotal time during their family’s sadness.

Project Alert: We received a request from UVA Medical Center’s Director of Social Work for support for the Wise, VA Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic. Noel Dianas-Hughes asked if we could provide funds to support vouchers for medication (narcotics) for pain control, especially for dental work at the RAM from July 23-26, 2009. Support of up to $1000 is needed. Vouchers are issued by pharmacists to patients at RAM that cannot be issued on site, so the patients can obtain their medications at area pharmacies in Wise, VA. Last year over 2,600 were treated in the fairgrounds at Wise, mostly by volunteer medical personnel from UVA Medical Center. 200 team members will be at RAM in July.

Your tax deductible contribution with a check for $10, $25, $50 or more, can quickly meet this need. For your convenience you may use our PayPal Donation button located on the “Donate Now” page by clicking here: .Remaining funds will be directed toward the other accounts.

Friday, April 24, 2009

We’re back with a Powerful New Vehicle for Good Works

When there is a long silence on a blogsite, one begins to wonder what is happening. The last entry was December 8, 2008 from T. Wade with his “A Personal Note to Myself.” That note was a bit of self-reflecting about an important new phase in our efforts to really make a difference, as a family, in our community.

There is a point in life when one is walking the talk, and it can be very consistent; but, then there is that vital intersection when one must LEAP! This message is about our faith in our contacts and friends and all others who feel the compassion for those truly faced with burdensome challenges in our community.

We can and have established a vehicle, a charity, and placed ourselves in the marketplace to channel an opportunity for others to make a difference. Our initial handout (4 pages) was printed and is available. That item is now presented for your further review with more facts and figures. It follows this introduction. I know this is a lot of reading in one blog offering, but initial education with substance is needed to sense the good works which this represents. And this my friends is the best idea we have had in years!

Last December was that point where we were having discussions with the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center Department of Social Work, Chief Chaplain, UVA Hospitality House and Ronald McDonald House, along with other supporting staff. Those discussions were about the numerous unmet needs which existed for those patients and visiting families who arrive in Charlottesville with meager means, often without funds to balance lodging, food, travel and even co-pays (for patients in what is known as pay range 1, indigent category).

There was agreement that another helping hand could be a tremendous help in filling the gaps. So – T. Wade and I decided to move to a new level of involvement, and start the process for a new charity, a non-religious, nonprofit, no stock organization to raise funds to “weave a new safety net.” It needed to be registered with IRS for allowance of donors to receive tax deductions. This is vital for a private person or company to be able to donate and receive that deduction in order to continue a sustained contribution.

Such an undertaking is a considerable challenge, and preparation has been rather consuming, but we are ready to serve for the years ahead. We now need for those who appreciate this community and the marvelous institution which is the University of Virginia and its Medical School teaching center and trauma center to provide a sustaining gift monthly to allow for relief for so many being served by the medical professionals.

The last months have been dedicated to establishment of Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum (IHS). This is the new charity. It has a website, thanks to Sam McLawhorn, who has joined us in a full time capacity as needed, also without pay, to make this safety net strong. It has a list of valued advisors, all with intimate knowledge of our objectives and first-hand knowledge of these unmet needs for patients and visitors to the hospital. The list of people making valuable contributions are many, but the leadership list is located on the website at

Please be aware that we have several websites, but our charity efforts are from IHS as described above. Therefore, it is vital that e-mail from IHS is recognized as being from us, and not be routed to junk mail.

Please know that our initial involvement has begun. As of April 2009 two accounts have been opened in the UVA Department of Social Work. One account is receiving a monthly IHS check to cover co-pays for pay range 1, and the other account is for purchase by that office of transit tickets for these same patients to return home across town. It is a beginning, and will be sustained. NOW – we must move toward assistance with lodging.

Let me tell you about a family with a patient in the hospital who is 20 years old, and dying of cancer. I will not be specific in this description, but his two older sisters and mother arrived with funds for one week to be with the patient. They only had funds to support themselves for one week. The doctor indicated that they needed to arrange a stay for about two more weeks, but they simply could not fund for lodging and food.

Fortunately, UVA Hospitality House (HH) received an opening for them for the extra two weeks, but they still did not have funds to pay for the $10 per night room rate. IHS sought and received consideration for the extra weeks and will pay for lodging, and has also given the family food money for a few days until more access is available to them at HH.

This is only one family which desperately needed these final days with their son, their brother. We were able to lift the stress of how to fund these valued days. We simply must allow this opportunity to repeat itself for future families.

Before we leave this initial blog message and present the handout for your further reading, allow me to return to the pages of A.L. Alexander’s marvelous book of poetry, “Poems that Touch the Heart.” There is a poem which has rippled down to us through the years and most of you know of it, but perhaps not the entire poem or its author, James W. Foley.

This lovely poem echoes through us as we go forward with this new charity. What we all drop into the pool of contributions to make good works happen will ripple through the hearts and minds of those served, and create a ripple which they experienced when they had a need to visit a small town in central Virginia. Charlottesville will be a point of many ripples, because kindness flows from this center of compassion.

Thank you… and enjoy James W. Foley’s poem and please read the new handout which follows. You will learn much more and feel secure with our appeal.

Drop a Pebble in the Water

“Drop a pebble in the water; just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s a half a hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness; just a flash and it is gone;
But there’s a half a hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling, and there’s joy a-circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.”


Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc.

"Weaving a new safety net for patients and their families at UVA Medical Center who need temporary assistance with lodging, food, travel expenses and co-pays."

A personal appeal from Rev. Elisheva Clegg, Interfaith Minister, Pastoral Counselor, M.A. and Chaplain Volunteer, UVA Medical Center, Charlottseville, VA ... and founding member of Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc.

Last year I began conferring with UVA Medical Center’s Director of Social Work and the Chief Chaplain, along with other supportive staff. They confirmed that there is a growing population of hospital visitors (both patients and family members) who arrive in Charlottesville with meager means, often unemployed and not insured.

These visitors, mostly families clinging to hope as a loved one lingers in critical status, face a gigantic balancing act to pay for lodging, food and travel. There are also patients who arrive for appointments for diagnosis and treatment. All are seeking to balance their health care needs with the cost of basic necessities.

It was determined that there are four major categories of unmet needs: lodging, transportation, food and co-pay assistance.

Where shall I start?

In February 2009 alone, UVA Medical Center Department of Social Work received requests for lodging from 61 contacts (individuals and families) who could not be accommodated. Those 61 contacts were unable to obtain lodging at the UVA Hospitality House (HH), with its $10 per night room rate (plus 4 very reasonable rental suites). Why? Because they did not meet certain qualifying guidelines:
> Age restrictions: 20 > Multiple family members: 11 > NO vacancies: 30

UVA Hospitality House (HH) and Ronald McDonald House (RMH) offer the most affordable room rates. Their professional caring staffs work diligently to assist guests. Total rooms at HH: 31. Total rental suites through HH: 4. Total rooms at RMH: 18. These same assets experience frequent full occupancy, and due to limited capacity, have necessary restrictions.

Let’s do the math: Using February 2009 as an example, that’s 732 contacts who will be directed elsewhere for lodging in 2009!

Where do all these people go?

Some will opt to use their funds for the most reasonable hotel rooms for as long as the money lasts, and sacrifice other necessities, especially eating. Some families must go home and leave the person who needs them for support. Some will huddle in the hospital lobbies, and waiting areas, all day, some with children… until night… and then…they will all sleep in a car somewhere near the medical center. Many will snack on crackers and soft drinks, and try not to risk their gas money for return home.

These are not the homeless, although many face an economic crisis due to their health care needs. The situation I am describing is so diminishing, so desperate, so depressing…yet so few outside of Social Work, Chaplaincy, and perhaps nurses and security personnel know the sadness which surrounds this healing center, when there is no fund, no alternative for immediate lodging, food, travel and co-pay money for prescriptions.

WAIT…there’s more!

A growing patient population in the indigent category (verified pay range 1) can not afford their co-pay for prescriptions. All too often, prescriptions are simply not filled. Let’s do the math: There are about 50 monthly requests for co-pay assistance for which there is no fund. That’s no less than 600 requests for 2009!

There are also 45-50 monthly requests, according to Social Work, for gas or transport funds for those over 60 miles away. Let’s do the math: That’s 600 requests for 2009! In addition there is also a need for transit system bus tickets locally.

The Department of Social Work has very limited funds for providing food assistance. Out of necessity these hospital visitors are directed to Charlottesville Soup Kitchens. The other alternative is a one-time weekly box from the food bank accessible through Embarq; however, the food box is more suited for preparation in a kitchen.

“We sincerely believe that once the facts are known, there is no need to create an emotional appeal. Isn’t one member of a family in crisis enough suffering? Must the entire group endure unbearable circumstances just to be supportive?”

Don’t forget about the annual RAM Clinic…

There is a group of patients referred to the UVA Medical Center each year following a screening at the annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinic in Wise, VA. Last year the RAM Clinic treated 2,600 people over a 3-day period at the Wise Fairgrounds. Most of the professional volunteers (doctors, nurses, social workers, technicians) are from Charlottesville. Last year over 50 people at the RAM Clinic were referred to the UVA Medical Center.

The RAM patients can not afford a doctor appointment in their community. Their only option is that one-time annual review in a fairground. Therefore, when a critical diagnosis and treatment is referred locally, that unemployed and uninsured patient still must make decisions regarding travel, food and yes, even lodging, when Hospitality House is full. The number of patients from RAM Clinic is always subject to increasing numbers.

What about Ronald McDonald House?

This facility is available to families who have a child patient in treatment. There is a reasonable fee, and the professional staff is outstanding. There are some restrictions, but the families who stay at Ronald McDonald House (RMH) tend to need lodging from one week to many months. When RMH is full, many families will not have anywhere to stay for extended periods.

Try to imagine a mother who is a guest staying at RMH with several other children, some back at home with a relative and little support, having to stay in Charlottesville for many months, while one child awaits a heart or lung transplant. She is asked to stay near the sick child as much as possible, and yet the other children must be monitored as they accompany that mother every single day. The stress can be over-whelming even when everyone at RMH is bending over backwards to find ways to assist. This is a typical family dilemma at RMH.

There were 40 requests to stay at RMH in February 2009 who had to be referred elsewhere because the facility was full.

Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum, Inc. (IHS)

This new independent charity partners with, but is not affiliated with, the UVA Medical Center. Our immediate objectives are easily understood, namely to raise funds for all the unmet needs herein described, but we remain open to filling larger gaps as the need presents itself.

“This charity was formed expressly to seek to be another helping hand, another safety net, for the overflow of UVA Medical Center patients and their families in need of temporary assistance for lodging, food, travel and co-pays.”

The value of your tax deductable contribution of
$50.00 will support one night of commercial lodging for a patient’s family…
$100.00 will support one night lodging and meals for 2 days for a family…
$150.00 will support one night of lodging, 2 meals for 2 days and gas for return home.

Where we must go and why

To reduce dependency on commercial lodging, which is costly and subject to availability, especially in summer, over holidays and on evenings or weekends of large UVA events, IHS has a long-term vision.

Our Vision is a permanent location, preferably a farm, which can be developed for consolidation of the overflow of lodging and food needs, for both short-term and extended periods.

Imagine a pastoral setting with dedicated buildings and staff to (1) meet the physical needs of UVA patients and their families with lodging and food service; (2) counsel and care for the psychological and spiritual needs of guests; (3) develop an active farm to meet the food needs of our guests; (4) provide a guest-friendly, outdoor environment, for relief of stress on all family members, especially for children; (5) make available as a community space for weddings, memorials, funerals, meetings, concerts, whereby all fees derived would be dedicated to maintaining the charity’s location and its programs.

Please visit our website and note that our volunteer advisors and officers are intimately familiar with our goals. We anticipate paid staff only when a permanent location dictates professionals on site. Your consistent tax deductable donations to IHS will establish that the Charlottesville community, with all its advantages, extends a compassionate, helping hand to its visitors with the greatest need.

Interfaith Humanitarian Sanctum
P.O. Box 163,
Palmyra, VA 22963

Ph: (434) 591-0700 e-mail:
Alt Ph: (434) 589-4864