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For the 80-plus kids a year enrolled in the bone marrow transplant program at Children’s Hospital, Brent’s Place is one place they—and their families—can seek sanctuary during and after treatment. In May, the community and living space will double its capacity with the addition of a new building.
Brent’s Place, part of the Brent Eley Foundation, was founded in 1997 by Donn and Linda Eley, in tribute to their son Brent, who passed away from complications due to his bone marrow transplant to treat a cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma. Following their own experience of relocating for Brent’s medical care, the Eley family wanted to create a safe and clean home for families facing similar circumstances. Their vision manifested into a 28,000-square-foot, 16-apartment building, located just blocks from Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Aurora campus.
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In addition to the strain that relocation can place on a family, the cost of a bone marrow transplant can easily exceed $1 million. To ease this burden, Brent’s Place provides families with one- and two-bedroom apartments that come fully stocked (with kitchen supplies, a TV, clean sheets, and so on)—free of cost—while also creating a community of families who are going through similar experiences. All of the apartments adhere to the organization’s Safe-Clean guidelines, which were designed with the help of Children’s Hospital to ensure the well-being of immune-compromised patients. Daily and weekly programming is designed to create normalcy, not only for the children undergoing treatment or in recovery, but for their parents and siblings, as well. Movie nights, craft activities, and homemade meal delivery bring the families together and provide opportunities to connect.
Families of children receiving care from area hospitals, though primarily at Children’s, are referred to Brent’s Place by doctors and social workers on a need basis. (Brent’s Place also has partnerships with a few local hospitals to serve adults, but children are the primary focus.) While families can stay as long as medically required, a typical stay is about three to four months. In 2016, Brent’s Place served 107 families. After the new building’s addition of 16 new apartments and four additional hospitality suites (where families who return for checkups may stay), Brent’s Place is hoping to serve 200 families in 2017.
“We are fortunate to have Brent’s Place just a few blocks from Children’s Hospital Colorado,” says Gil Peri, chief strategy officer at Children’s Hospital Colorado and a board member at Brent’s Place. “Our hospital cares for over 27,000 pediatric patient visits each year in our Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Many of these families are from out of state, away from home and their support systems. Thanks to Brent’s Place, our families have the option of a convenient, clean, and safe place to call their home away from home—which allows them to give more undivided attention to their child.”
The new building is opening on May 20, with a public celebration. Due to the overwhelming need for the organization’s services, they expect to fill the home completely within a matter of days. For development director, Rebekah Wells, this is an rare opportunity to witness the role the organization plays in a family’s recovery. “Knowing that you’re providing something that these families desperately need and getting to see them be served by the community and to have a place to live while their child recovers, well, it’s is just really amazing,” says Wells.
How you can help: Aside from financial support, which allows the families to stay for free, there is a current need for the donation of apartment items. The organization’s Amazon Wish List features items such as pots and pans, dishware, and sheets. You can also visit their website to find volunteer opportunities and events, such as their annual Kid’s Cure Fun Walk, taking place Saturday, July 29 at the parade grounds on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. As Brent’s Place doubles their services with the new addition, which as Wells says “is because the community has given so generously,” they will need even more volunteers.
Visit: The grand opening takes place May 20; ribbon cutting, 10 a.m.; tours, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Brent’s Place, 11980 E. 16th Ave., Aurora. The event is open to the public. Kids are welcome.