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Board of Women Visitors Funds Transplant House Updates, Kick-Starts Sustainability

Transplant.House_FrontIn 2015, Penn’s transplant surgeons performed 488 solid organ transplants, including heart, lung, liver, kidney, and pancreas. Of these patients and their families, 150 traveled a great distance for their care at the Penn Transplant Institute – coming from places like Florida, Texas, and California.

But while the news of receiving a potentially lifesaving organ is often a long-awaited “miracle,” the gratefulness can be met with the stress that comes with traveling a long distance, for a long period of time.

The Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House, established in 2011, provides families a home away from home – and a short walk from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Having accommodated 1,500 families in the last five years, it’s not surprising to find that many items required replacement and updating.

While the nightly charge, as well as donor contributions, support day-to-day operations, the House needed a sustainable source of income for upkeep and maintenance, and found itself in a continuous state of fundraising.

However, this month, the Clyde F. Barker Penn Transplant House received a generous $600,000 endowment gift from the Board of Women Visitors (BWV) and its Nearly New Shop.

The BWV, a steady presence at HUP since 1875, supports the hospital in many ways, but improving care and comfort for patients and their families remains its top priority.

And for the Transplant House, the BWV’s support is nothing new. The group donated $500,000 in 2007 as the naming gift in the building’s initial fundraising efforts and also to encourage others to help the project reach its $3 million goal. The Nearly New Shop made a $50,000 donation at the time. 

The Nearly New Shop was the hospital’s consignment/thrift shop, and raised money for the hospital through the sale of everything from furniture and clothing to toys and jewelry – to name a few.  After the shop closed in 2014 and the building was sold, “we received approval to use the proceeds to eventually fund a special project,” said BWV chair Jean Givey.

Each year, the BWV solicits a wide range of proposals from Penn Medicine departments to fund items on their “wish list” that respective budgets can’t cover.

In early 2015, Linda Schelke, who represents the Transplant Institute on the BWV Board, and Diane Jakobowski, MSN, RN, transplant administrator and department director, worked together to submit a request for $125,000 – the BWV’s top grant – to establish an endowment fund for the House.

“Very basic needs were required – like replacing mattresses and dishwashers. I knew that even small amounts of money would help, but I really wanted to do more,” Schelke said. “The endowment would also provide a vehicle that would encourage other donors to contribute.”

Schelke and Jakobowski also worked with Penn Medicine Development, which is launching a campaign specifically focused on increasing the BWV’s gift.  Their goal is to raise the endowment to one million dollars over the next five years.

With the support of Nancy Mennuti, the Nearly New Shop BWV representative, and the BWV, it was agreed that the Transplant House was the “special project” that the proceeds from the shop’s sale would fund.

“We are very grateful to the BWV and Nearly New Shop for this extremely generous gift, which will help ensure our patients and their families continue to have the transplant house available to them,” Jakobowski said.

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