HOPKINTON — From the start, the founders of a local charity hoped to find space in Boston to provide temporary housing for families whose children are being treated for congenital heart disease. Last week, Live4Evan welcomed its first family into its fully furnished apartment.
While the Hopkinton organization has provided apartments in partnership with hospitals, the new space provides the organization an opportunity to work directly with families.
“This is the first family we’ve helped on our own,” said Jack Nealon, co-founder and president. “It’s honestly a dream come true.”
He said it’s been a lofty goal to find a space within walking distance of Boston Children’s Hospital, and find a property owner willing to sign a lease with an organization.
A family from New York is expected to stay eight weeks.
“They are awaiting the birth of their child who will have hypoplastic left heart syndrome and will need surgery once he is born,” a press release reads. “Being close to the medical team is essential for this family and Live4Evan is grateful to be able to provide that.”
The organization’s inaugural Red Tie Affair in March helped raise the money needed to lease the space. Other fundraisers include the Live4Evan 5K Run + Fun Fest and charity runners in the Boston Marathon, Chicago Marathon and the Falmouth Road Race.
“Typically children being treated for congenital heart defects have a hospital stay that can be six to eight weeks, sometimes several months,” Executive Director Jean Bertschmann said previously.
In 2016, Live4Evan leased an apartment at the Longwood Galleria and since then five families have been able to live there while their child was receiving treatment at Children’s.
Live4Evan also operates a volunteer meal program at the Yawkey Family Inn and provides scholarships for graduates of Hopkinton High School.
Last year, the organization helped the family of 5-year-old Ari Schultz with temporary housing after his hospital stay. Ari’s reaction to learning he’d be receiving a new heart captivated people on social media. Ari died last July.
The new apartment, located near the intersection of Huntington and Longwood avenues, has been fully furnished through a generous donation by Cort Furniture of Boston and is designed to function as a “home away from home,” according to the press release.
The organization was founded in memory of Evan Girardi, who died in 2010 at age 20 from a heart arrhythmia, caused by a congenital heart defect. The Girardi family moved to Hopkinton from California to be closer to Boston Children’s Hospital.
“Our long-standing goal has always been to offer stress-free housing,” said Girardi’s mother, Barbara, housing operations director for the organization, in a statement. “We want to create apartments that have all the amenities of a home and allow families to remain close to their child during such a critical time. It’s a truly incredible feeling for Live4Evan to be able to offer this. We are hopeful that there will be many more to come.”
Nealon said the organization hopes to open its second apartment by the end of the year.
“We are hoping to have five apartments in the next four years,” he said.
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WHAT WE DOWe provide temporary housing for families of children with congenital heart disease who need to travel into the Boston area to get their child care. #EVANSWAY
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