WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Editor’s note: Skywrighter staff writer Amy Rollins talked with Chris Stanley, executive director of Fisher/ Nightingale Houses Inc. at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the future Dayton Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Fisher House. FNHI will host its 14th annual “All American Evening” on April 29 in the Modern Flight Hangar at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force from 6 to 10 p.m.
Skywrighter: What is the purpose of the “All American Evening?”
Stanley: It’s a celebration of the organization’s 27th anniversary, produced in partnership with the Air Force Association Wright Memorial Chapter and the Miami Valley Military Affairs Association. FNHI started with the Nightingale House, founded in 1990 by then-Capt. Gretchen Lizza when her son, Tony, was diagnosed with leukemia and was initially being treated at Wright-Patterson Medical Center. Lizza had noticed there were families from other bases at the hospital who faced lengthy stays. Some patients’ families were even sleeping in their cars because they couldn’t afford to pay for hotel rooms.
The Nightingale House served as the Department of Defense’s first compassionate care facility until it was demolished Feb. 14, 2011. Fisher House I, named in honor of residential and commercial developer Zachary Fisher, a major philanthropic benefactor for military causes, and his wife, Elizabeth, opened in May 1994. Fisher House II opened in April 2011 and replaced the Nightingale House. A site for a 16-bedroom Fisher House on the campus of the Dayton VA Medical Center is about to be prepared.
Skywrighter: Can you tell us more about the planned facility? What will it do for the military community?
Stanley: The Dayton VA is close to preparing the site. We tentatively plan for a groundbreaking in early July. The Fisher House there will be two stories, with 16 bedrooms, 17 and a half handicapped-accessible bathrooms, and 13,500 square feet. The home will be valued at $6.5 million.
There is no hotel near the Dayton VA. We’re going to be helping a lot of families with this new house – almost doubling our capacities from what we have at Wright-Patterson AFB. It will add 5,800 nights to our annual capacities. The guests do not pay to stay with us.
Skywrighter: The evening also serves as a fund-raiser for the current and future facilities, right?
Stanley: Yes, it does. Tickets for the evening are $85 each, with $35 of the cost being tax-deductible. They can be purchased through me at 937-672-8724 or online at www.fnhi.org. “A Night at the Movies” is the theme, and the new chef at the Wright-Patt Club will be preparing a special, all-you-can-eat gourmet buffet. All beverages are included. It’s a big, fun party.
Attire this year is business casual, patriotic or movie-themed. You can come dressed as your favorite character! There could be anything from Fred Flintstone to Humphrey Bogart.
Both silent and live auctions of items have been donated by community members and businesses, with Jim Bucher returning to serve as auctioneer and master of ceremonies. Organizers of the event are still looking for donated items to be sold during the evening. Past items have included works of original art, vacation condos, gourmet dinners and a chalet at the Dayton Air Show. This year, with the 75th anniversary of the Doolittle Raiders coming up, we’ll have a special commemorative bottle of cognac for the auction.
Prices for bidding on auction items go from $5 on up, but everyone has a chance to bid on and win an item. New this year will be mobile bidding so people can use their cellphones or tablets; volunteers will staff bidding kiosks to assist people who prefer to bid that way.
There will also be a raffle for four vouchers for tickets from Southwest Airlines, valued at $200 each. The winners need not be present for the drawing.
Anyone who would like to donate an item for the auction should contact me at 937-672-8724. Contributions also may be mailed to Fisher/Nightingale Houses Inc., PO Box 33871, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433.
Skywrighter: What do the funds support?
Stanley: Wright-Patterson AFB’s Fisher Houses assisted more than 1,040 current and retired service members and their families in 2016 and more than 20,000 in the last 27 years, providing an opportunity for military families to stay together for physical and emotional support while undergoing medical treatment. Each year we save our guests more than $1 million in hotel costs. This annual event provides money to support the guests staying in the Fisher Houses. No taxpayer money has ever been used for the Fisher Houses’ expenses or support of the guests.
Skywrighter: What may guests expect in terms of food and entertainment?
Stanley: Gourmet bistro dining by the Wright-Patterson Club will be featured as well as wine tasting. Entertainment will be provided by Dan Edwards.
Skywrighter: Is there anything else you would like people to know?
Stanley: With a total of 21 bedrooms between the two Fisher Houses, we have the potential to provide nearly 7,700 nights of lodging annually at no expense to the guests. Fisher Houses are homes, not hotels, where families support each other and their family members undergoing medical treatment. Fisher House – because a family’s love is good medicine. Locally, the two Fisher Houses at Wright-Patterson AFB touch lives with compassion. It’s a great way to take care of and help support our wounded, injured and ill military men and women, veterans and their families.
With the Buckeye Federal Healthcare Consortium agreement signed in May 2015 to improve the timeliness of medical care to veterans throughout Ohio and optimize the training and readiness of personnel at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center, we are seeing more veterans for inpatient or outpatient services. Now we are seeing increased usage.
The 14th annual“All American Evening”April 29 will support Fisher Houses operations. The evening at the National Museum of the U.S.Air Force will again feature silent and live auctions of items donated by community members and businesses. Organizers of the event are still looking for donated items to be sold during the evening.
HOW TO GO
WHAT: 14th annual ‘All American Evening’ supporting Fisher/Nightingale Houses Inc., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
WHEN: April 29, beginning at 6 p.m.
WHERE: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
TICKETS: $85, with $35 tax-deductible. Contact Chris Stanley at 937-672-8724 or go online to http://www.fnhi.org/events/