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Gabriel House is more than Just a House of Lodging

Castano TestimonialWhen Gabriel House opened in April 2011, its mission was to provide affordable, temporary lodging for those coming to Jacksonville for either an organ transplant or cancer treatment. That remains our core mission. Yet over the past few years, in an effort to help our guests further cope with the emotional stressors associated with long-term illnesses, we created a Community of Healing with additional supportive programs.

“Our guests walk through our doors weighted down with an enormous amount of anxiety, depression, stress and emotions that they don’t know how to handle,” explains Valerie Callahan, executive director. “So we asked ourselves, what can we do to help them manage these feelings? Through our Complimentary & Integrative Program, we offer classes to provide coping skills guests can use long after they return home.”

Some of these programs are based on sound medical research, like the mindfulness based cognitive therapy and yoga classes while the cooking/nutritional instructional classes help guests and caregivers adapt to new lifestyles with specific diet requirements for compromised immune systems. These classes are free for our guests and caregivers.

The feedback we have received from guests who have participated in the classes over the last 18 months, have been very positive. Diego Castano, a long time guest and one of the first lung transplant patients to stay at Gabriel House, gave this response to the mindfulness class:

“I have been visiting Gabriel House along with my wife, daughters and other caregivers since my transplant days back in June 2011 shortly after the house opened. The results of the staff and volunteers’ labor and dedication to this noble cause, have impacted many lives (both patients and caregivers) and eliminated and/or mitigated pain, caused by sickness. These combined efforts, have also helped in improving our health and spirits.

Among the many programs you have at Gabriel House, the yoga and mindfulness classes have been of great value to my wife, daughters and ALL the caregivers who have stayed with me. It helped them deal and manage the daily barriers and stress we encounter in life. For many of them, it was their yoga experience and all I can tell you is they got hooked on this philosophy. For me, I attended the mindfulness class during my last visit and I was able to sit down, meditate and relax for two and a half hours. You now me and for me to sit down for this amount of time, something must be wrong! I observed the faces of those attending the classes. They ‘transported’ themselves and when the classes ended nobody wanted to leave. They all had questions and were in a different world. Please keep them going as they do wonders for all of us.”

Unconditional Love & the Bond of Family

Levin TestimonialThere is nothing stronger than the unconditional love of family. It is unbreakable, determined and fearless. It’s what has gotten the Levin family through the past 2 years. June was a 25 year old, biology graduate student when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoma. The massive tumor sat on her heart and continued all the way down to her diaphragm. Chemotherapy wasn’t an option because of a rare genetic mutation that would allow the lymphoma to recur. Her only chance was a bone marrow transplant. Thankfully her sister, Terri, was a perfect match not only for her first transplant but also for her second when the lymphoma recurred six months later.

“We were so excited to learn she was a perfect match as there is only a 25% chance a sibling will be a match,” June, now 27, explained. “She stepped up without hesitation. Because of her sacrifice and gift to me, I was thankful to be her caregiver during her part of the transplant knowing she and mom would be mine.”

June and her mom, Carol, stayed at Gabriel House for 3 months and returned home last November. What they didn’t realize at the time, was Carol would be diagnosed with metastatic carcinoid cancer in March just six months after June’s transplant.

“We never expected to learn mom had cancer after we returned home from our first stay at Gabriel House,” June explained. “It was a shock and the news came five days after I learned of my relapse and need for a second bone marrow transplant. However we picked ourselves up, became caregivers once again for each other and were there to provide support and strength. Knowing we had our family back at Gabriel House made the return trip for my second bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy for mom much easier. There are amazing people at Gabriel House who truly care and stand beside you providing hope and inspiration along the way. It is this family bond that got us through our difficult days.”

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Location: 4599 Worrall Way, Jacksonville, FL 32224
Main Number: (904) 821-8995

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