Friday marks 10 years to the day since Jeneece Place opened its doors beside Victoria General Hospital and began welcoming Vancouver Island families of children receiving medical treatment an affordable, safe place to stay.
The 10-bedroom “home away from home” was the dream of Frankie Edroff who, at age three, was diagnosed with a debilitating genetic disease and spent much of his early life in and out of hospitals. When, against all odds, Edroff survived his doctors’ prognoses, he decided to do something to make sure families in similar situations would have better support.
Since Jan. 21, 2012, Jeneece Place has housed 2,760 families.
“I think we’ve really come upon a way in which to support families that is completely transformative,” said Veronica Carroll, CEO of the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, which owns and operates Jeneece Place.
“The welcoming and comfort of the home is really a sort of counterbalance to all the other stress they’re going through,” she said.
In a 2021 survey, 70 per cent of respondents said staying at Jeneece Place reduced their overall stress and 77 per cent said it reduced their financial stress.
The house includes a communal kitchen and dining room, a place for kids to play, a large media room, and several library-like nooks. Families can stay for the amount of time they need.
In the 2020-21 year, the median length of stay was four nights and the longest was 103. Many families stayed more than once during the year.
Looking back on the impact Jeneece Place has had on families over the years, Carroll said in many respects it feels like it’s been longer than a decade.
“It seems inseparable from the community,” she said.
Last August, the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island opened its second “home away from home” in Campbell River. Carroll said they’re looking at a mid-Island location as well.
“When people put their heads together and really try to do something very positive for the community, you can do incredible work,” she said.
They’re planning an anniversary celebration for when larger gatherings are allowed.
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