Ryan House

Uplifting Refuge for Children with Life-Threatening Illness

by RaeAnne Marsh

Nonprofit_0414_RyanHouse“If this is the last moment, live life to the fullest” is the philosophy behind Ryan House, explains its executive director, Julie Bank. The organization offers children with life-threatening illness, and their family, a full range of respite, palliative and end-of-life care in an uplifting and child-friendly environment.

At the Ryan House Community Breakfast on May 7, being held at the Arizona Biltmore, families that have experienced Ryan House will share why they use Ryan House and what it means to them. The event offers attendees a chance to learn how to get involved — as a donor, volunteer or recipient of care.

Ryan House has eight children’s bedrooms and a professional medical team to take care of the child. A child’s family may stay in one of the three family suites. Noting that, at home, the parent must always be alert as a caretaker, Bank says, “At Ryan House, the parent can be a mom or a dad.” Such respite care has come to be 80 percent of what Ryan House does, and Bank estimates there are about 5,000 families in Maricopa County alone who need its services. Serving all of Arizona, the organization provides its services for free and is supported entirely by donation.

Snapshot

  • In addition to overnight accommodations, the facility houses music and art therapy rooms, a hydrotherapy pool, a sensory room and an adaptive playground.
  • Opened last October is the “Story of Me” room, with multi-media equipment that enables legacy-building for the family — creating what is possibly the last memory of their child and also offering the child an opportunity to enjoy a range of experiences from creating a music video to simulating a ride on a roller-coaster.
  • Ryan House staff is assisted by a variety of volunteers, from those who make a four-hour-a-week in-house commitment to those who help with individual projects, join one of its auxiliary groups or, if younger than 18, become a Ryan House Kid.
  • One of only two organizations in the country that provide this model of care, Ryan House is looked at as the model, helping other cities establish a similar organization.

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