By Executive Director, Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater

The journey to create a loving, comfortable and supportive home for those who are homeless and dying in honor of my grandson, Joshua Lee Nielson (pictured), who died on the streets of Omaha, NE at 34 years of age, has taken many interesting twists and turns.

We first purchased a 100-year-old empty building near Loaves & Fishes on North C Street in 2018. It was an amazing space, but, unfortunately the building ended up needing more than $5 million in retrofitting, roofing and other structural improvements, so we put it up for sale. Fortunately, we sold the property within two weeks of putting it on the market and we are closing on the sale on September 21.

After several months of looking for another site and lots of research, we were finally able to link to a City-owned property in South Natomas, in City Council Member Jeff Harris’ District. Jeff has been a supporter of our effort ever since we started. Through his support, we are preparing to sign a lease agreement for the property this month. This property will allow us to have 4-6 manufactured homes providing shelter, meals, clothing, and comfort care to 9-15 terminally ill homeless men and women.

In addition, our five non-profit partners, Sutter Health, Dignity Health, UC Davis Health, Kaiser Permanente, and Yolo Hospice will be able to discharge their eligible terminally ill homeless men and women to us and they will provide hospice care to their patients. Because hospice care is delivered to people in their homes, homeless individuals have not had access to hospice care before!

This model is relatively new and that also led to almost four years of exploring the most ideal way of being established. We have finally been able to receive and accept legal advice that we best fit being a “volunteer hospice,” because we are not a nursing facility – we are a home! So, our Board has approved our final name – Joshua’s House Volunteer Hospice – a program of the nonprofit, Health Communication Research Institute, Inc.

Joshua’s House Volunteer Hospice will not provide skilled nursing services, we will not charge patients or their families for the comfort care we provide, nor will we receive third-party insurance payments for services rendered. Our hospice partners will cover room and board charges.

We are on our way to open in the late spring of next year as one of the first such facilities on the West Coast! We are so grateful for all of you who have supported us during this journey and hope you will join us at our groundbreaking (happening soon) and grand opening in the spring!!

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