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Fisher House Re-Opens in Portsmouth

Katrina Parker, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East

Portsmouth mayor, James W. Holley III, talks to local media about the grand re-opening of The Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher House at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, April 22. The Fisher Houses are available to families who are coping with the medical crisis of a loved one and have no local accommodations. Chad R. Erdmann

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - 04.22.2009

The Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher House at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth celebrated its re-opening with a ceremony and open house, April 22.

The Fisher House program is a private-public partnership that recognizes the sacrifices of men and women in the armed services. It provides cost-free accommodations for families of patients receiving medical care at the naval hospital.

Renovations began in September 2008 and include both functional and aesthetic improvements. The kitchen and bathroom were made more handicap accessible and new carpeting, tile, cabinets, countertops and appliances were installed. Décor items such as furniture, window treatments and linens were also replaced.

"The house that stands before us is not just a house; it's a home away from home," said Capt. Peter Kopacz, acting commander, NMCP. "It is an environment for those coping with the medical crisis of a loved one and has no other accommodations."

The home provides a full kitchen, laundry area, dining room, and gathering area.

"In particular, the kitchen and the gathering area are really some additional therapy for all the individuals who are here," Kopacz said. "They can get together and share their stories with individuals who are going through this same type of issue, and it is really a healing process in itself."

After being diagnosed with cancer in 2007, Petty Officer 1st Class Darnell Randolph, along with his wife, stayed at the house during his entire treatment. He recalled his experience for guests at the ceremony.

"I thank God for the Fisher House," said Randolph. "The families here were unbelievable; we cooked together, and we would talk and play games. The camaraderie was unbelievable."

Since its opening in June 1995, the Fisher House at Portsmouth has housed over 2,230 families and guests while their loved ones were hospitalized. There are currently 43 current total Fisher homes near military medical centers or Veteran Affairs medical centers.

"There is a great need to accommodate these family members, whether it is due to the long distances their family members travel, or some other unique circumstance they face," Kopacz said. "The Fisher Foundation has given us a means to address all those issues for theses people."

The Fisher House program began in 1990 when philanthropists Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher offered to build and donate comfort homes to the government near medical centers to let service members stay close to their families during hospitalization.

"It is fantastic to be here and help celebrate the rededication of the Fisher House," said Audrey Fisher, vice chairman, Board of Trustees for the Fisher House Foundation, Inc. "It is important for our service members to have their families near them in their time of need."

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