Talon News - Good Local News


Organized by Leadership San Juan


March 17, 2017

Lisa Bailey

Leadership San Juan - Team Community Love Back row: Lorenzo Reyes, Mike Patschek, Jimmy Voita, Pat Flores, Jared Murphy, Susan Steinhoff-Smith, Freddy Archuletta. Front row: Charmin Quintana, Jan Brashear, Melissa Ramstead, Beni Fiske

Recently the Connelly Hospitality House held an open house hosted by Leadership San Juan, featuring an art walk displaying the artwork of local students and artists, and linen shower for the facility. Connelly Hospitality House was the brainchild of Jerry and Bonnie Connelly, who together fought Jerry's battle with cancer, which included a stay in a similar facility in Houston, Texas during his treatment. When returning home to Farmington they wanted to provide the Four Corners area with lodging for people traveling more than 50 miles to seek medical treatment. The Connelly Hospitality House fund was created in 1991 and the Connelly Hospitality House was opened on Valentine's Day in 2001. While the home's purpose is to house cancer patients and their caregivers during cancer treatment, when there is room available, those with other medical conditions and emergencies may be allowed to stay.

The Sunday, February 26th event allowed the public to tour the facility and see the difference in the newly redecorated room, thanks to the San Juan Leadership project. The comments from the volunteers indicate that they, and the patients, appreciate the color and vibrancy brought to the room through the updating. The bed and bath linen shower helped to provide items that possibly experience the most wear and tear. Some guests stay for several days or weeks, but as treatment advances to follow up or maintenance they may only need an overnight stay. Regardless of the length of the stay, the linens all need to be cleaned between stays. So, the new bed and bath linens were welcome gifts! But, one not need wait for an event such as this to make donations to the Connelly Hospitality House. It is through the generosity and kindness of San Juan County residents that it came into being and how it stays in existence. Much of its support is generated through the annual Cancer Walkathon and the Connelly Hospitality House is under the San Juan Medical Foundation umbrella, therefore donations may be tax deductible. That is just the beginning though, long time volunteer Barbara Hill reports that sororities, and church and scout groups are just a few of the other donors who have blessed the facility through their time and gifts.

Barbara estimates that she has been volunteering for approximately 14 years. She shared that it is her favorite volunteer experience. When I asked Barbara what brought her to this line of service, she became emotional as she shared that her oldest son died of cancer at age 17, 41 years ago. Barbara and her husband both had good jobs and insurance, but those things do not necessarily negate the expenses and obstacles faced when dealing with cancer. "People don't realize what a financial disaster cancer is." Later Barbara lost her husband to cancer as well. She feels led to volunteer at the Connelly Hospitality House because she "knows what they are going through."

Those who may benefit from the services of the Connelly Hospitality House can seek a referral from the cancer center or San Juan Regional Hospital. There are eight bedrooms and at times they are at full capacity forcing them to turn people away. The facility seeks to provide a home like atmosphere, with a kitchen to prepare meals, a laundry facility, and aesthetics such as fireplaces and an outdoor garden area. Barbara points out what an asset this facility is to the cancer center and the community, which parallels the San Juan Medical Foundation's mission of enhancing the health and well-being of people in the Four Corners community. Barbara wanted to share that the Connelly Hospitality is always looking for volunteers and welcome donations of non-perishable food items and paper goods for use by the guests.


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