Imagine a family member was injured overseas while serving in the Army and had to be hospitalized. The costs to be by their bedside would make it fiscally impossible for most people to be able to be there for their loved one, but this obstacle has been shattered with the help of the Fisher House Foundation, an organization that the faculty and staff of Barton Community College have been supporting over the last decade.
The Fisher House Foundation uses its housing facilities, which are located close to medical facilities, for servicemen and women to provide temporary lodging at no cost and help cover travel costs for family members of injured soldiers until the soldier is in a stable state of recovery.
The Fisher House in Landstuhl, Germany has been chosen as a focus for the Barton fundraising efforts. The medical center that is located in this city is one of the military’s only major medical centers overseas, so the Fisher House was strategically constructed in Landstuhl as well.
In addition, donations may also be used to provide basic-needs items to soldiers at the medical centers. Often times, these soldiers arrive with little more than the clothes they were wearing when injured because emergency evacuation situations provide little time for preparation or packing.
“The last thing people are thinking about in an emergency situation, especially in a foreign theatre is grabbing someone’s personal items,” said Barton fund chairperson Janet Balk. “It’s important to realize there is a delay between when someone is critically injured and when their unit can box up their stuff or their family can get them these basic-needs items.”
Balk, who is Barton’s College Programs, eCompanion and Hybrid Coordinator at the Ft. Riley campus, said the integrity of the Fisher House Foundation is second to none.
“This organization is terrific,” she said. “In this day and age we tend to be a bit skeptical because certain organizations have had scandals, or have tremendously high overhead or, for example, they pay their national spokesperson an extremely high salary and that equates to sometimes less than 50 percent of every dollar actually being used to help someone. Through the Fisher House Foundation, 85 percent of every dollar goes directly to helping people.”
Barton Community College has collected and donated more than $15,000 to the Fisher House Foundation at Landstuhl, Germany in less than a decade with $4,000 being generated in 2011.
Balk said this is a great opportunity for people to give back to our nation’s servicemen and women.
“This is a way to help people that have an immediate need,” she said. “I think it gives people a way to be able to show their appreciation and contribute as civilians, by doing something more than saying ‘Thank you for your service.’”
The public can send tax-deductible donations to: Ft. Riley Fisher House Fund; Barton Community College; ATTN: Janet Balk; P.O. Box 2463, Ft. Riley, KS 66442. Make checks payable to “Ft. Riley Fisher House Fund.”