By Melanie Casey
It's a place where families of America's military men and women can find comfort, respite and understanding. It opened its doors on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 1992; yet, many - even those in the nearby military community - still do not understand what the Fisher House is, how it works, and how it helps servicemembers and their families when they need it most.
On Sept. 24, 2010, the JBLM Fisher House opened its doors to celebrate what would have been founder Zachary Fisher's 100th birthday and to give the public an opportunity to tour the home, ask questions and learn more about this "home away from home" for families of injured and ill service members.
The celebration featured a free barbecue lunch, free chair massages courtesy of DuPont Chiropractic Center, tours of the home, a bounce house, door prizes, and more. In keeping with the birthday party theme, the event included cotton candy, popcorn, and sno-cone machines, manned by soldiers from the 571st Military Police Company. Staff Sgt. Jared Doss, a soldier with the 702nd Brigade Support Battalion, donated his time and talent to create balloon animals. More than 50 volunteers came out to ensure the party's success.
"My intention was not only to get the military leadership here to learn more about us so they know to use us," said Fisher House Manager Jodi Land, "but also to give the community a chance to learn more about us. Our families need them."
So far this year, the JBLM Fisher House has served more than 300 families from all branches of service and has saved military families more than $430,000, said Operations Assistant Nikki Wasierski.
"(Fisher House) is wonderful," said resident Jennifer Dew, whose infant son, Dawson, is in the nearby Madigan Army Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. "We feel taken care of. Other people (here) are all in the same situation."
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski