“I can’t thank you all enough for what you’ve done for our family. Hearing the news that my daughter Layla would need a second heart transplant was terrifying.
“When we decided to come to the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, it was very stressful trying to figure out where we would live and how we would get by being so far away from our family in Pennsylvania.
“You took away all that stress and worry by giving us a place to call home for four months. It has truly meant the world to us.
“Thank you for all your generosity and love. We were welcomed with open arms and I think that has made a huge impact on Layla’s recovery.
“Layla was born on March 30, 2007 with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. She had her first open heart surgery at 3 days old, her second at 6 months old, and then her first heart transplant a month after her 1st birthday.
“She battled countless complications in the years after her transplant. She had feeding issues, rejection, PTLD, absorption problems in her intestines, infections, and tumors. We thought she was finally in the clear in 2016. However, in April of 2017, she went into severe heart failure. The University of Virginia Children’s Hospital was willing to list her for a second risky heart transplant.
“In July, Layla was transferred and on September 21st, she received her second gift of life. She was discharged and we went to live at The Alyssa House.
“We will be forever grateful for the help and care we’ve been given. Thank you to the Divers Family, the volunteers, and the sponsors who have made The Alyssa House possible. You have made a big difference in our lives.”
The Alyssa House is proud to have joined several other Charlottesville nonprofits to meet the ever growing demand for lodging for families of patients at the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital.
Learn more about our work in the Housing Collaborative in the local press coverage from The Daily Progress and NBC29.
We’re sending a big ‘Alyssa House Hug’ to volunteer Carrington Harris, the 2017 Dogwood Festival Teen Miss.
Throughout her reign as Teen Miss, Carrington provided Welcome Bags filled with toiletries, games, and goodies to every single child that stayed at The Alyssa House.
The Dogwood Festival is near and dear to our hearts, as our own Alyssa was named an Honorary Dogwood Festival Princess during her fight with osteosarcoma.
We met up with the 16-year-old Carrington to learn a little more about her inspiration to help children in medical crisis.
“I first met Alyssa when I was Preteen Miss Dogwood festival and Alyssa was the Honorary Princess. We did several events and Parades together. We were the same age.
Spending half my time in and around Fluvanna County, there were always stories of Alyssa and her impact in the community. We all followed the family and were excited when The Alyssa House came to life.
The Carrington Project was created after my Grandfather Spanky Harris lost his battle with lung cancer in October 2013. I knew then I wanted my platform to be in the fight against cancer. Being so young my self and seeing kids and babies fight for their lives, I knew I wanted to concentrate on childhood Cancer and diseases.
My message to the kids and families that come into the Alyssa House is to be brave, be strong, and keep up the fight!We are here to love and support you… We are all in this together in the fight against cancer and childhood illnesses.”
We love our community! The wonderful people at the local confectionery Sugar & Salt raised almost $500 for The Alyssa House at their St. Patrick’s Day”Sugar-Pa-Looza” event!
We’re looking forward to another chance to work with this small local business!
Many, many thanks to everyone who came out to support us! You help make The Alyssa House possible.
If your business or organization is interested in partnering with The Alyssa House for a fundraiser, please feel free to contact us at TheAlyssaHouse@gmail.com!
Thanks to our friends at Wilson School of Dance for bringing some joy to The Alyssa House. The local dance studio provided a free private dance class for our Alyssa House family!
Medical issues caused Layla to miss months and months of her own dance classes at home. Alyssa’s Mommy (who is also a dance teacher) was delighted to give her a private lesson before she heads home!
Thank you for caring about The Alyssa House.
As many know, our namesake Alyssa loved to dance.
The family currently staying at The Alyssa House received the surprise of a lifetime on Tuesday, January 16th.
Our Alyssa House family had been struggling with car problems for weeks and weeks. Given the fragile nature of their daughter’s health, reliable transportation was a necessity.
Our family thought they were looking at rental cars…but were instead surprised with a car to keep! The wonderful people at Valley Honda donated a car through Mason’s Toy Box for our little Alyssa House family! Words can hardly express how thankful we are!
This family now has a safe, reliable car to ensure they can get to all their important medical appointments.
This never would have been possible without our incredible friends at Mason’s Toy Box, who worked tirelessly to facilitate this donation and gift it to our Alyssa House family. Thank you! Mason’s Toy Box is another nonprofit named after a child taken too soon by cancer. Mason, the namesake of Mason’s Toy Box, was in treatment at UVA Children’s Hospital at the same time as Alyssa.
We also can’t forget to thank Wes Iseli Magician & Illusionist, who truly made this a surprise by making the car magically appear!
This is truly a wonderful community, and The Alyssa House is so fortunate to have you by our side!
Check out some of the local news coverage from this wonderful day:
Message from Holly Duke, the 2018 Board Chair of The Alyssa House:
I was privileged to meet Alyssa Divers and her family through activities at Sojourners United Church of Christ. Those who knew Alyssa will never forget her remarkable spirit. Her fierce intellect and passion radiates through every room in this house.
The Alyssa House has been called a home with “built-in community.” And anyone who has been inside or interacted with our families using the home can clearly see why. From the cheery porch, to the artwork, to the neatly stacked paper towels – every square inch of this home has been touched by the loving hands of volunteers who carry out the legacy of Alyssa. Through service or financial generosity, our friends and neighbors express their love for the children and families inside this home. Though we don’t see it with our own eyes, we know that behind those doors are moments of laughter, despair, courage, rage and boundless hope.
It is my joy to begin 2018 as the new Board Chair of The Alyssa House. I come to this role from a background in counseling and program management in higher education and nonprofit settings. My commitment is to boldly set about the work of continuing Alyssa’s legacy through deepening this “built-in community” that makes The Alyssa House more than just a temporary housing solution, but a growing circle of love surrounding families who need it more than we could ever imagine.
This year we closed the books on our first full year in operation. The Alyssa House has proudly supported five families with a child in medical crisis. The children at the Alyssa House have fought cancer, battled rare illnesses, and recovered from major organ transplants. Each have had a safe and free place to stay at The Alyssa House, thanks to people like you.
As we enter 2018 we remember our beautiful namesake, Alyssa Grace Divers. A fierce firework with a heart of pure gold, who was stolen from this world five years ago today.
Alyssa inspires us every single day to help other children in medical crisis. To provide a space of love and support. To bring families together. To ease the burden on families fighting the toughest battles and children going through things no child should ever have experience.
To everyone who has walked with us on this journey….thank you. Thank you for helping us honor and remember Alyssa. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of children in need. Thank you for opening your hearts to The Alyssa House.
In true Alyssa fashion, nothing is more important than family
Alyssa Grace Divers, 2/25/02 – 12/31/12
The Alyssa House welcomed in our first ever holiday season on Sunday, Dec. 3 at our inaugural Holiday Lighting Ceremony. The Alyssa House will shine blue, the favorite color of our namesake, all month long.
Thank you to our family, friends, and community members who joined us for this very special evening. We were even joined by our current Alyssa House family, who came out to join in on Christmas carols and the lighting of house.
We are so grateful for your support. The Alyssa House wouldn’t be possible without you.
Our ‘Alyssa Blue’ lights were donated by volunteer Mary Lynn Haney, and the lights were put up by UVA student volunteers from Alpha Phi Omega at UVA.
Special thanks to our friends at Sojourners United Church of Christ for generously donating their facilities for our gathering.
“I can only TRY to express how thankful we are to the Alyssa House family for allowing us to have stayed here during the most difficult time of our lives. This house became home to me and my kids for three months. It was exactly what we needed to help us get through this time.” – Nikki
As we quickly approach the holiday season, the gratitude expressed above by the mother of our second family is identical to how I am feeling about our amazing community of supporters. It’s hard to believe that today marks one year since our open house to introduce the public to The Alyssa House and begin the final push toward becoming operational. At the time, it was a small but momentous step as the spark of an idea blossomed into reality. But that was just a hint at what was to come, with the start of 2017 welcoming our first family!
Since that time, we have had five families call The Alyssa House home, with their stays ranging from two weeks to three months. Each has been able to use the house in a manner that best suits their family’s needs, but all have been able to relay on clean, free, and safe housing because of you.
Whether assisting with a house reset, helping to beautify the grounds, baking a casserole, washing laundry, supporting ongoing house operations through donated supplies, coordinating an independent fundraising event, attending one of our various fundraising events, or sending your thoughts and prayers to our families, you have stepped up in innumerable ways.
Because of you, we’ve had more than 10 successful community events to raise awareness and funds.
Because of you, we’ve had more than 40 volunteers contribute their time and talents to our efforts.
Because of you, we’ve had more than 50 donors make financial contributions to support our operations.
And most importantly, because of you we’ve ensured that five families have had an oasis during times of acute crisis and despair. What our families and their children have endured breaks my heart. But I do find a measure of comfort in knowing that collectively we are honoring Alyssa’s legacy by ensuring that family and love is the root of all we do.
Our mission is to provide housing and holistic care to families of children in medical crisis while they are away from their local community. At a deeper level, we strive to surround each family that stays with us in grace, compassion and comfort, allowing them to be together and fully focused on, and present with, one another during even these most traumatic of times.
While we surely need your continued support through advocacy, prayers, and volunteerism, the stark reality is that we can only continue to do all of this at no cost to our families with your financial support. I hope that during this holiday season you will consider making a financial contribution, within your means, to help ensure that we enter 2018 well-positioned to continue supporting families.
On behalf of our staff and Board of Directors, I thank each of you for your continued support of The Alyssa House. May you and yours have a safe and joyous holiday season and please know that all of us are deeply grateful for your compassion and resilience in taking this journey by our side.
Chair of The Alyssa House Board of Directors