Valdosta Daily Times

Business

July 7, 2013

The Tree House

Hospice House to open retail outlet

VALDOSTA — It started, as many things do, with a question.

A hospice consultant, visiting Hospice House a few years ago, asked why they hadn’t opened up a non-profit retail store with profits going toward the Langdale Hospice House.

Though they had never considered it, the proposal was something the Hospice House board took under consideration, keeping it on a backburner for a couple of years. Upon deciding to offer residential care at Hospice House, the retail store got moved to the front.

“We saw a need for residential care,” said Leta Cone, a registered nurse who works with Hospice House. “To keep patients under our care, we decided to begin using one part of our building for residential care.”

Amber Lodge’s grandmother was the first patient.

With her mother on the board, Amber Lodge had always heard about Hospice House and the good it does, but it didn’t hit home until her grandmother stayed there.

“She had skin cancer and spent her last couple of months at Hospice House,” said Lodge. “After she passed, I had to find a way to give back.”

She started gathering things together for the proposed store: donations of furniture, clothes, dining ware. With the Tree of Life being an important part of Hospice House’s logo, it was a short jump to name the store, The Tree House Resell Shop.

The name even feeds into the design of the Tree House. With local interior decorator Doug Carter advising, the store emphasizes earth tones, with several columns throughout the store wrapped as trees.

The Tree House has received help from the community. Langdale Industries provided seed money for the store, while Valdosta Electric helped with the lighting and Pat Davis of Davis Industrial Electricals helped with racks and shelving. Located at Five Points, the Tree House also benefited from the advice and references of neighbors such Five Points Liquor Store, Backyard Retreat and Carter’s Produce.

“We want customers to feel warm, comfortable and want to come back. For me, this isn’t a retail store. This is a 365-day fundraiser ... that’s going to help families receive the same care that we did.”

Except for large appliances, things like freezers, stoves and refrigerators, the Tree House is ready to sell most things. While donations will be accepted during business hours, pickups must be scheduled by appointment.

To keep costs down, the Tree House will be mostly staffed with volunteers. Volunteers play a large role at Hospice House already, sitting with patients, talking with them and playing games.

“If our patients have a need, we help them,” said Bill Meli of Hospice House and Hospice of South Georgia. “Opening up the Tree House Resell Shop will mean more money going to patient care.”

“Because we’re a non-profit, we don’t turn people away,” said Cone. “Everyone gets the same care regardless of their financial standing. If they don’t have coverage or the financial resources, they still need the same things.”

Things like medications, meals, bandages, equipment, and personal care.

“We want to put money back into the system we’re using to pay for care for people who have no reimbursement for that kind of thing.”

Along with the other services, Hospice House offers bereavement services, including ongoing grief support groups for adults; these are open to the community. A Children’s Grief Camp will be held Oct. 12, for children who have lost a relative or friend.

Hospice House joins other non-profits that have opened retail stores in recent years. With the money from the store earmarked for patient care, it will allow Hospice House to show love to more patients in the future, just as it has done with more than 5,000 patients served so far.

“If you’ve ever had to use a hospice, then you know the feeling you get,” said Lodge. “You don’t get any better for an organization.”

Located at 3007 N. Ashley St., the Tree House Resell Shop is scheduled to open July 9, with a grand opening July 20. It will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays.

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