Mason’s Story

There doesn’t seem like enough words to express how thankful we are for everything you have done for our family.

21766656_297392380738444_5134201689792138809_nOur journey began at our 20 week ultrasound in January, 2017.  We learned our baby Mason had a rare congenital heart disease known as CCTGA, congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries. The future for him looked so easy — as easy as heart disease comes. He was born perfectly healthy, with no signs of distress.

At about a month old, things began declining slowing. At 3 ½ months old Mason and our family traveled to Boston Children’s for his first open heart surgery. Thirty days later we returned back to Virginia to find he was in heart failure. After months of trying to control it, he showed no improvement. That was when we faced our only option — to list him for transplant. 

We felt so scared, but after asking our doctor to give him life and he led us here, we knew it had to be done.43539698_492767594534254_5497748148233175040_n

August 30, 2018 we went for Mason’s G-tube surgery. It was that admission we realized he was in complete heart block. About a week and a half after discharge we came back in due to issues with his G-tube. That’s when we realized that this was “the admission,” the one that kept us in until Mason got a new heart.

On October 21, 2018 Mason received the greatest gift of all, his perfect donor heart. During our admission my husband and I took shifts. I spent the week in the hospital with Mason, while my husband worked and cared for our two girls. The weekends he took hospital shifts while I spent needed time with our girls.

For those couple of months it felt so hectic and we all felt so spread apart.

It wasn’t until coming to The Alyssa House that our family felt whole again. The Alyssa House felt so warm and welcoming, and was the best recovery regimen our entire family needed.

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We have spent more time bonding and enjoying as a whole family than it feels like we ever had before.

It’s been a true blessing to have a place to call home through our post transplant care. It was an honor to stay here, to learn about Alyssa, and partake in the house lighting. The generosity of everyone with The Alyssa House is beyond words. We feel honored and blessed to make this house our home for a short while.

mason-haislipIt is with sincere gratitude and appreciate that we thank you. It’s hard to leave the place that gave me comfort during an anxious time, but I hope it helps the next family as much as us.

 

 

Sincerely,

Tiffany, Dustin, Mason, Arianna, and Aubrey Haislip

 

 

Give the Gift of Family

TAH Giving Tuesday

Support The Alyssa House this #Giving Tuesday, and help us ‘Give the Gift of Family!’

We strive to surround each family that stays at The Alyssa House with compassion, comfort and grace, allowing them to be together during the most traumatic of times. But we can’t do it without your help.

We hope this Giving Tuesday you will consider making a financial contribution, within your means, to help ensure that we enter 2019 well-positioned to continue supporting families. Your generosity means we are able to keep our doors open to our fragile families in need.

Donate online through Virginia Organizing’s Network for Good here: DONATE

Scroll through and select The Alyssa House as your donation designation.

Helping Families…

IMG_0077.JPG“I just want to thank The Alyssa House for allowing my family to be together for such a scary time in our lives, for loving on us, and making sure all our needs were met. You took a huge weight off our shoulders.

“We came to UVA Children’s Hospital for an emergency dialysis surgery. We came fighting. We couldn’t see the end. Thank you to UVA doctors, nurses, and all staff for caring for my baby girl. You loved on us all and always encouraged us. You got my baby feeling so much better and I will always be grateful for that.

The Alyssa House will always hold a special place in our heart. We have been blessed to be able to stay at The Alyssa House. We got to stay here for free — all because people have given. “

A Message of Gratitude…

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I just want to thank The Alyssa House for allowing us to stay here in this wonderful home.

We started our journey back in 2014. Cody has been in heart failure with severe arthritis and vasculitis since he was 14… His whole teenage life was taken from him. Cody was blessed with another chance in life six days after being put on the heart transplant list.

We had a big set back and Cody was in the hospital longer than we expected. They had to reopen him back up 7 weeks ago.

Our 4 weeks here have been amazing. The healing has begun and he’s been doing great. We call this our home away from home and it’s been a blessing knowing he’s not too far away from the hospital…

We want to thank the Divers family, the church, and of course their sweet girl Lexie for bring Easter Bunnies. My grandbabies loved them

Our journey here is done. Now Cody gets to go home to graduate in June!

May the next family that comes here feel as welcome as we did! Thank you for sharing this home with our family!

 

Sincerely and always,

The Monto Family

A Thank You…

IMG_6620-edit.png“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 1381522_543088572440447_413212140_nher 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.”

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Working Together to Help Families in Need

IMG_0198The 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.

http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/housing-collaborative-helps-families-at-uva-children-s-hospital/article_3635b59c-35e6-11e8-9e1e-d37bf11aa690.html

http://www.nbc29.com/story/37837003/local-nonprofits-partner-to-house-uva-childrens-hospital-families

 

Volunteer Feature: Teen Miss Carrington Harris

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 75772_278848698900589_1760146796_nHonorary 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.

Knowing and spending time with Alyssa and watching her battle with cancer, I knew the least I could do was to help other kids and their families as they battled for their child’s 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.

I spent an evening with Lynn (Alyssa’s mom) talking about Alyssa, their journey as a family, and what was beneficial. After that I came up with the Welcome Bags.  I heard from a lot of families about how hard this fight is on the siblings of a treating child.  This is why I also make sure that all children in the family receive a bag personalized to what they like and their interests.

 

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.”
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Dancing for Joy

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.

 

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Absolutely Speechless!

The family currently staying at The Alyssa House received the surprise of a lifetime on  Tuesday, January 16th.
IMG_5586-editOur 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, IMG_5654-editwho 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!

We are so thankful for the wonderful people and Valley HondaMason’s Toy BoxWes Iseli Magician & Illusionist, and everyone else who helped bring this miracle together.

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:

Family in Need Gets Surprised with Life Changing Gift (WHSV, Harrisonburg)

Family of Girl Recovering from Heart Transplant Receives New Car (NBC 29, Charlottesville)

 

 

Our Namesake, Alyssa Grace Divers

22007321_10214416386027297_4744777609937523218_nThis 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