The story of Jan-Wilem Knapen is a remarkable one. This young boy who suffered from leukemia as a small child and later was diagnosed with and eventually died from brain cancer not only conceived of and inspired the creation of JW House, but played a very active role in the early fundraising to make it a reality. Having to spend a lot of time in the hospital he knew how hard it was for his family to care for him while in the hospital and wanted them and other people like them to have a place where they could go – a close by home away from home – to get a break from the sterile hospital environment.
Everybody who has ever spent long days at a hospital to be near a family member or friend in a medical crisis knows how difficult that is and how welcome even a short break is. How necessary a bit or normality is and the opportunity to talk to others in a similar situation. JW House offers just that to people – a little reprieve, a small break, a sliver of normal everyday life and caring support by the full-time staff and the volunteers.
A Home Away from Home
JW House is now open and serving that function of being a home away from home for the families of patients being treated at the hospitals in Santa Clara Valley. Since its grand opening in 2008, JW House staff and volunteers have welcomed thousands of people to enjoy a warm meal, much needed respite, friendly support, and comfortable beds.
Jim is one of the volunteers who started out by donating money and now works a 4 hour shift every Sunday evening at the house. He washes dishes, makes sure the house is ready and comfortable but most importantly he is there, if one of the visitors needs a sympathetic ear of a good listener. As Jim puts it, at “JW House we care for those who care for others.”
To learn more about JW House please listen to my interview with Jim. I hope you will be inspired by his story and by how much pleasure he drives from helping others in difficult situations.
To listen to the interview please click here for the direct download link.
The permanent URL can be found here.
Website for JW House
Jim also mentions Ronald McDonald house as an institution with a similar mission, their website is here.