Nestled on a quiet street in the coastal town of Stuart, Florida, stands a lovely three-story Southern-style home with an inviting front porch. This house serves as a temporary home away from home for people from all over the world and all walks of life. Those who reside here have at least one thing in common – they or someone in their family has a serious health condition.
The place is called Molly’s House, and it was the vision of a young woman named Molly Sharkey who was diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia when she was 12 years old. She and her family traveled the country to find treatments and often had trouble finding convenient and affordable places to stay.
In 1992 Molly passed away, but her family, friends, and community worked together to make Molly’s dream a reality, even using the detailed ideas left behind in Molly’s journal. The grand opening in Molly’s hometown was on September 21, 1996, which would have been her 23rd birthday. Last September marked the charity’s Silver Anniversary.
Molly’s House supports patients receiving outpatient medical treatment by providing temporary, safe, and affordable accommodations to them and their families. This year alone, guests from Russia, Poland, Jordan, Costa Rica, Brazil, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, Dominican Republic, Scotland, Israel, and 31 states have stayed.
“We are grateful that we can offer patients and their families a comforting place during a stressful time. It was a community that built Molly’s House, and it’s a community that keeps us going,” said Katie Watts, Executive Director of Molly’s House.
There are 15 bedrooms in this cozy, clean getaway including 12 guest rooms, two family rooms, and one small apartment. Each family who stays here has its own private bathroom.
More than half of the patients staying at Molly’s House are children referred by the Paley Institute in West Palm Beach. The Paley Institute takes on complex diagnoses which often require a patient to undergo several surgeries. In between surgeries, patients will have several physical therapies and follow-up appointments, so they need a temporary and affordable place to live. Typically, these patients stay longer, on average, 2-4 months.
Guests pay a small fee for a room if they are able. Those who are unable to pay are not turned away. Their costs are covered through donations and grants. William & Helen Thomas Foundation, Loblolly Foundation, and TD Bank Foundation are just a few organizations that have donated to keep Molly’s House open and thriving.
Families are able and required to cook their own meals here. Local organizations also come in and volunteer to cook a meal on occasion. The program is called “Chef for a Day.” Individuals and businesses can prepare a meal either ahead of time or at the house for guests staying there. RV Johnson and Gordon & Partners participate in Chef for a Day. Other companies are encouraged to get involved.
Generous companies like US Sugar routinely donate fruits and vegetables for the guests.
“An important part of what we do is Feed Families Across America, so we are honored to help provide sustainably grown, local, nutritious fruits and vegetables to the guests of Molly’s House,” said Judy Sanchez with U.S. Sugar.
Fresh Market provides bread and bakery items every week. Treasure Coast Appliance Sales delivered a new refrigerator to store perishable food donations.
“Like other charities, inflation is taking a toll. If you would like to donate, Molly’s house needs many items, including proteins like meats, cheese, and eggs, and gas cards to help residents with transportation costs. You can find a wish list on the Molly’s House website.
It is safe to say Molly would be pleased with what has been accomplished over the past 25 years. To celebrate this significant anniversary, a silver tree is displayed in the lobby with the names of donors engraved on the leaves and around the base. It complements the Tree of Life in the library that honors those who helped make Molly’s dream a reality.