Heart of Fisher House recognized

Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

Volunteers from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s two Fisher houses were recognized June 5 with a luncheon and awards presentation.

***image1***Fisher House board of trustee members Audrey Fisher and Nancy Edelman traveled from New York with Vice President of Communications Jim Weiskopf to participate in a casual ceremony which was capped by a nine-course meal that featured shrimp, lamb cutlet, tortellini and other succulent fare.

Nearly 200 volunteers have donated more than 375 hours each month to help LRMC’s Fisher Houses operate smoothly during what has been a busy recent period with ongoing military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The houses serve as temporary lodging for families of wounded servicemembers as well as veterans and other people who visit the hospital.

“These are people who collectively help families that stay here and it’s a way to say ‘thank you’ for their generosity,” LRMC Fisher House manager Kathy Gregory said. “These people have so much energy. Myself and two others – Stacy Thomas and Bridget Koenig – are a big part of what’s done here but the volunteers are who really make things as good as they are. Aside from management, you have to have that other supplement of people.”

Landstuhl opened its first Fisher House in 2001 and a second was added in 2002. The two structures are the only Fisher Houses currently open in Europe, but the Army operates 17 Fisher houses at 10 locations throughout the United States. The Air Force operates five of the houses.

The latest Fisher House will open next week in Tampa, Fla., and there are 38 in existence, primarily in the United States.

“I attended an open house last August or September and they explained what was expected from Fisher House volunteers, “ said Cheryl Pletzer, a military spouse and one of the many honorees attending the Landstuhl luncheon. “With the war effort, I wanted to help in a different kind of way. I get a lot out of what I do here.”

Volunteers do groundskeeping, provide transportation on and off base for visitors, prepare meals, and do housekeeping duties around the two dwellings.
“These volunteers are like so many others, at other Fisher Houses,” said Audrey Fisher. “They are serving the community and they are serving Soldiers downrange. They are averaging 100 new families staying here each month.”

Four people from LRMC’s Fisher Houses were awarded gold level certificates from the President’s Volunteer Service Award, authorized by U.S. President George W. Bush. Rob and Sondra Jackson, Air Force officers at Ramstein, were joined by Jan Beard and Norm Raynal in collecting those honors.

Friends of Fisher House, a private organization which supports the LRMC houses, also earned a gold level certificate.