Funding renovations at Mass General's Beacon House is one way corporations like DCU are helping families weather the stresses of illness.

Gifts from the Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) to Massachusetts General Hospital programs are helping families weather the stresses of illness.

Making a difference in the lives of people is a value embraced by DCU, a non-profit financial cooperative. Its charitable partnership with Mass General is a strong reflection of that value.

Janice Davis (right) stayed at the Beacon House recently while her son, Miles, was hospitalized for five months.
Janice Davis (right) stayed at the Beacon House recently while her son, Miles, was hospitalized for five months.

Consider the impact DCU has had at Beacon House, short-term affordable lodging that Mass General manages on Boston’s Beacon Hill. For the past three years, DCU has funded renovations to Beacon House, located a short walk or cab ride from the hospital.

The Cost of Hotels

Being close to the hospital for extended periods is necessary for certain medical treatments like proton beam radiation treatments and organ transplants. They require frequent appointments over days, weeks and even months. Proton beam radiation treatment for cancer, for example, oftentimes requires 40 treatments, which can stretch over a couple months.

For patients and families who don’t live within commuting distance of Mass General, the cost can be prohibitive.

Hotels around Mass General typically average $300 a night and more, says Sharon Scott, lodging program manager for Mass General’s Department of Social Services. Mass General’s 22 rooms at Beacon House range from $40-$118 a night, with no taxes or other fees.

DCU donations have helped outfit Beacon House with new beds and furniture, updated decor and repainting.

DCU donations have helped outfit Beacon House with new beds and furniture, updated decor and repainting. “It hadn’t been updated in almost 20 years and was looking worn and dated,” Ms. Scott says.

Dealing with Two Transplants

Janice Davis stayed at Beacon House recently while her then 24-year-old son Miles was in the hospital for five months. “I couldn’t have afforded to stay in Boston and visit him regularly ” she says. “Beacon House has been a godsend.”

Miles attends Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts. What started for his mother as a weekend visit with him from her home in Maryland, ended up with him in Mass General’s emergency department. He’d recently begun dialysis because his kidneys had begun to fail due to problems after his heart was transplanted at age 17. While hospitalized, it was determined that he not only needed another heart transplant, but also a kidney transplant.

Ms. Davis spent the first night of his hospitalization in his hospital room but then got a room at Beacon House. She stayed a month the first time and was able to come back and forth, staying from five days to three weeks at a time.

The Beacon House lobby reflects some of the renovations undertaken as a result of the generosity of DCU.
The Beacon House lobby reflects some of the renovations undertaken as a result of the generosity of DCU.

A Place of Refuge

“I’ve cooked Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners all at Beacon House and then brought them to Miles at the hospital,” she says. Easter dinner was extra special because it was Miles’ 25th birthday.

Despite all the stresses related to her son’s health, “I was able to come back to my room and feel like I could just breathe,” Ms. Davis recalls. “The second night I was there, my son coded. Beacon House was my refuge and was a warm and inviting place to be.”

Now Miles continues to stay at Beacon House for his follow-up appointments at Mass General.

People form an attachment to Beacon House, says its manager, Ms. Scott. They return to visit and send cards. She recalls one woman who stayed there while her husband had a transplant and brought him afterward to show him. “Beacon House is part of their story now,” she says.

When a loved one has a serious illness, it can cause wear and tear personally, financially and emotionally.

Increased DCU Generosity

When a loved one has a serious illness, it can cause wear and tear personally, financially and emotionally. Mass General’s Social Services Department has many ways it helps people cope with concerns related to illness and hospitalization.

DCU also contributes to a Social Services’ Patient and Family Assistance Fund, for example. This fund is tapped to help more than 500 families yearly whose loss of income due to illness leaves them financially strapped.

This year, DCU has increased its generosity and is also contributing to Mass General’s Center for Addiction Medicine, the MGH Fund, and to Home Base, which is dedicated to healing veterans’ “invisible wounds” of military service.

DCU embraces three simple values that it refers to as “The DCU Way”: people come first, do the right thing, and make a difference. All three are exemplified in its charitable partnership with Mass General.

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