Thursday, March 22, 2012

The VanDyke Family Shares Their Story

The VanDyke's at our 10th Avenue home
Seven years ago, the VanDyke family welcomed granddaughter Justice into the world. Justice’s grandma Kim recalls that when she held her for the first time after being born, she knew something was not right. Within two days, Justice was med-flighted out to UCSF children’s hospital, for what would be the first of many years of procedures. The family would soon learn that, among other complications, Justice was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Originally from the Modesto area in California, Justice’s grandparents have been coming to Family House intermittently since that first trip to UCSF seven years ago. Staying anywhere from six days to three months at a time, the VanDyke’s have come to think of Family House as a second home. The first year was the scariest for their family; being out of their element was hard, but they say that having a place to “come home to” began to make it less terrifying.
More recently, they have been bringing Justice’s 10 year old sister Lexi to come stay here with them as well. Kim notes the relief they have knowing that they don’t have to leave Lexi behind anymore; the relief also seems to have positively impacted Lexi, who has improved academically as well as socially since she began staying at Family house.
For the kids, coming here is so nice that they often tell Kim they don’t want to leave to go back home. For Kim and her husband Tony, one of the best things about Family House is that “no matter how long you stay, you never feel like less of a person”. Admitting that her family can be proud and are not ones to take handouts, Kim says that what is incredible about Family House is the way that coming here feels like staying with friends or loved ones rather than a charity. She thinks this has been achieved because of the humble and genuine staff who, according to Kim, have “found where they belong”. When asked to describe the atmosphere here at Family House, Kim spent a moment thinking of the right words to use to illustrate how her family feels when they are here, and announced that it “feels like a big hug”.

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