Most people in the Upper Valley area have heard of David’s House at CHaD, the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth; for those who haven’t, David’s House provides parents and families a place to stay while their children are receiving intensive medical care.
David’s House is the dream of a little boy named David Cyr and his father, Dick.
For three years, David was in and out of the hospital with acute lymphocytic leukemia, and his dad spent much of that time at the hospital. There, he met many parents who slept in their cars or in chairs in their child’s hospital room, unable to afford any length of stay at a nearby hotel and unwilling to leave their child’s side.
A group from Tyler, Simms & St. Sauveur volunteered to get the playground read for the young guests. They also provided a BBQ for all the guests.
Just before David passed in 1984, his father asked him what he had been saving all his allowances, spare change, and birthday money for and David answered, “for a special reason.” And so, his own $300.78 provided the seed money for David’s House which opened its doors on January 20, 1986 and has now served over 14,000 families.
As the David’s House website states, “David’s House is a house because of the roof, the walls, the rooms, and the beds. David’s House is a warm and welcoming home because of the people who keep the doors open 365 days a year.”
Jill Ross, the volunteer program manager, noted that they currently have 35 hospitality volunteers and have had hundreds volunteer for cooking, special events, fundraising and more. The Hospitality Volunteers take regular shifts at the front desk greeting the families and ensuring their comfort.
One of the current volunteers, Stacey Chiocchio, has been working with David’s House for over 10 years. Stacey has volunteered as a Hospitality Volunteer, a cooking volunteer, has helped out with special events, is currently on the Governance and Finance Committees, and is both a former President of the Board and Treasurer.
Hypertherm volunteers cooking for the families. Center: Stacey Chiocchio
Stacey chose to volunteer at David’s House after her experience as a teenager with her brother. “The reason I started volunteering at David’s House is that the mission is so important. When I was in high school and lived in Long Island, my brother was in an accident while at summer camp in New Hampshire. He was in a coma for a couple of weeks, and we lived mostly in the emergency room waiting room and the lobby of Concord Hospital. Eventually, we moved to a motel, but we were fortunate that we had the resources to do that. When I learned about David’s House, I was thrilled that there was this wonderful warm, cozy, clean home for families to feel supported and cared for while their children were being treated at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth.”
Hermine Wallach, another Hospitality Volunteer who has been working there for four years every Wednesday morning noted, “It is so rewarding because everyone [staff and families] there have such positive vibes and it’s wonderful for the families to not have to worry and just concentrate on their child.”
A third Hospitality Volunteer, Kathy Stroffolino, has been there for the last six years, also helping with fundraising events. Kathy started volunteering after a coworker told her how wonderful an experience it was and how great the staff was. “I love the people at David’s House. I love helping the families in hard times, and I love babies and children.” Her favorite part, however, is seeing the families be able to go home.
Volunteers Kathy Stroffolino and Hermine Wallach
When we first contacted Jill Ross to find volunteers to talk about David’s House, the number who responded was incredible. It seems many who volunteer there in any capacity, as a hospitality volunteer, helping cook, once or many times, or assisting with special events, loves the experience. The mission of David’s House draws many to it, but the people and the staff are why so many stay.