This winter, the staff and students of Ross Medical Education Center’s Port Huron campus, had the privilege of donating their time to an organization that is near and dear to their hearts: Hunter Hospitality House. Some of the volunteers worked on sprucing up the basement walls with a fresh coat of paint. Then they all got to work folding invitations and stuffing envelopes for their upcoming event, the Hope Blooms Annual Fundraising Banquet. Even though they were working hard, there was a lot of laughing and memory making as well.
Hunter Hospitality House was founded by Jeff and Tracy Willard. The Willard’s son Hunter was born prematurely in December 1991, and sadly only survived a few weeks. He spent his short life in and out of the Special Care Nursery at McLaren Hospital Port Huron. The Willards saw the need for a quiet place of refuge for the families of seriously ill hospitalized patients. In December 2011, they opened the doors of the first Hunter Hospitality House in memory of their son. Families are able to stay at the House and be close to their loved ones who are hospitalized, yet they can still shower, eat a meal, rest, and relax in peace. Volunteers help to keep the house clean and in good repair and meals are donated by local restaurants. Through the support of the Blue Water community, the Willards were able to open a second location, also in Port Huron, near to the Lake Huron Medical Center.
After the birth of the first grandchild of Stacey Clark, Port Huron’s Assistant Campus Director of Education, Hunter Hospitality House became even more special to the campus. Mrs. Clark was gracious enough to share her story, “the Willard Family gives from the heart. They turned their own devastating loss into an opportunity to help others. My grandson Liam was born prematurely. By appearances, he looked very healthy. His lungs were strong, which was apparent by the scream he let out when he was born. However, he had signs of an infection and he was steadily losing weight. He had to stay in the special care nursery for five days after my daughter was discharged. Not only were my daughter and son-in-law overwhelmed with being new parents, they had to worry about leaving their newborn in special care and not being close by for feedings and regular updates or just to hold their new baby. Hunter Hospitality House provided relief to them during their time of need. They were able to stay at the house, which is located just across the parking lot from McLaren Port Huron Hospital which allowed them to quickly make it over for feedings and to hold their precious baby boy. Because of the generosity and kindness of Tracy, Jeff, and Garrett Willard, my daughter and son-in-law can look back on this time with fond memories rather than heartbreak and anguish. I will forever sing the praises of the organization the Willard family has built.”
The Port Huron campus of Ross Medical Education Center will continue to support this incredible family and their cause by seeking out opportunities to volunteer and help out at both locations of the Hunter Hospitality House. Fundraising events and service projects for all ages are available year-round. To learn more or to volunteer your time, visit their website at www.hunterhousehospitality.com, the Hunter Hospitality House Facebook page, or give them a call at (810) 824-3679.