Local News

Comforts of Home

During May, June and July, Margie and Milo Cook stayed at Benincasa while Margie received treatments for a bone infection. They visited with others who stayed at Benincasa, an experience Margie said was comforting.

Date: 12/3/2009

Posted by Benincasa on 12/30/2009


By MONICA SPRINGER

mspringer@gctelegram.com

Brad Nading/Telegram Volunteer Kay Logan grabs a throw pillow to place at the head of a bed Wednesday while preparing a room at St. Catherine Hospital's Benincasa, 809 N. Sixth St. (Brad Nading/Telegram Volunteer Kay Logan grabs a throw pillow to place at the head of a bed Wednesday while preparing a room at St. Catherine Hospital's Benincasa, 809 N. Sixth St.)

Brad Nading/Telegram St. Catherine Hospital's Benincasa house is located at 809 N. Sixth St. (Brad Nading/Telegram St. Catherine Hospital's Benincasa house is located at 809 N. Sixth St.)

Benincasa, which means "Good home" in Italian, is a hospitality house for patients and patients' families at St. Catherine Hospital that runs entirely on donations and volunteers, and has been doing so since 1994. Benincasa is located at 809 N. Sixth St. in Garden City.

Benincasa will host an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, when people can tour the rooms and see the house with Christmas decorations.

Margie and Milo Cook, who live in Protection, more than 100 miles away, said they couldn't afford staying in a hotel during Margie's treatments. They said it was comforting to have a place to go.

"They have everything there that you would need at home," Margie said. She said doctors at the hospital even brought in a special bed for her to sleep in while at Benincasa because she was bed-ridden.

Milo, 72, enjoyed the puzzles at the house. When it was time for his wife's treatments, Milo would walk Margie, 64, in a wheelchair to the hospital a half a block away.

"I highly recommend it to anyone who needs help and can't afford a hotel. It's there to be used," Margie said.

Benincasa will celebrate 15 years of being open on Saturday, the exact date the house opened in 1994.

Shari Brandenburg, volunteer coordinator at St. Catherine, and Kevin Gallagher, executive director of mission and ministry at St. Catherine, said Benincasa is a home away from home for many families. The home also provides emotional support and camaraderie for the people who stay there.

"It gives them a place where they don't have to worry," Gallagher said, referring to things such as cleaning and transportation.

Benincasa is a two-story home with a basement. There are seven bedrooms with two twin beds in each room. Benincasa also has a quiet room for prayer and reflection, a Ronald McDonald room in the basement for children, and laundry, kitchen and pantry facilities.

"People help each other," Brandenburg said. "They become family."

On Saturday afternoon, Gallagher and Brandenburg said, they encourage citizens from southwest Kansas to come and take a tour of the house. Hospital staff will be on hand to answer any questions the public may have.

Benincasa serves a variety of people. There are three conditions people have to meet in order to stay at Benincasa. Those who stay at the house have to be from an area outside of Holcomb and Garden City, must have a loved one in the hospital and they have to be able to take care of themselves.

And the people who stay at the home come from a variety of backgrounds. Brandenburg said some people are passing through on vacation and get sick, while others get sick on the train and stop in at St. Catherine.

Benincasa also will be accepting donations if patrons wish to contribute toward its operating expenses. Gallagher said it costs about $100 per day to run the house, after donations. Operating costs for the house include utilities, pantry items, insurance, cleaning and general upkeep of the house.