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Amanda’s House

The fear of a loved one becoming hurt or ill is something that many people worry about, and unfortunately for some, this fear becomes a reality. When this occurs, many stressors arise in addition to the emotional toll of the situation. Financial struggles, traveling, and more can add to the already difficult situation for the family. 

While no one can prevent illness or harm, many people work hard to ease some of the other burdens. 

Amanda’s House is an excellent example of the good that can come from a tragic situation, and the impact a community can have on those in distress. At her four-month check-up, Amanda Cafaro was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. The town of Glens Falls came together to support Amanda and her family in any way that they could. They raised funds to help pay for her medical treatments, but unfortunately, Amanda passed away after a six-month battle on September 24, 1998. 

Despite being only 10 months old, Amanda had an extremely big impact on the Glens Falls community. After her passing, her family wanted to use the funds that were raised to do something for the community in her name as a remembrance of both Amanda and her impact on the town. Amanda’s grandfather, Tony Cafaro, suggested they create a home for those traveling long distances to be with loved ones who are sick. He was inspired by his own stay at a Ronald McDonald house when Amanda was receiving her treatments.

In 2001, Finch Pruyn & Co. rented the house to the Amanda committee for $1. Located at 22 Henry Street, Glens Falls, the house is only about a seven-minute walk from the Glens Falls Hospital. 

From there, volunteers began renovating the house, and furniture and appliances were purchased by different organizations. The house officially opened in 2002 and successfully housed hundreds of people. 

However, the house had to cease operations in 2013 due to financial issues. Wanting to continue Amanda’s legacy, the Glens Falls Hospital worked closely with the house’s board of directors and the community rallied to keep the house open. Beginning in 2015, the Glens Falls Hospital took over operations of the house, and it is still operating to this day. 

“The house really is a story born out of love and support through family and community,” shared Glens Falls Hospital Director of Volunteer Services, Tom Lyons.

The house itself comprises three private bedrooms, each with its own lock, and two bathrooms. There is a driveway that provides one spot to each family. The house is also equipped with a washer and dryer, linens like blankets and towels, a coffee maker, stove, microwave, and anything that someone needs to comfortably rest while their loved one is at the hospital. Security members monitor the property and volunteers keep up with the overall maintenance of the house. The goal is to keep guests safe and comfortable so they can focus on their loved one. 

“Our guests that stay there have so many more things to be concerned with. It’s a stressful situation, they’re traveling a long distance, and we’re there to provide a soft landing,” Tom said. 

The referrals for the house come directly from the Glens Falls Hospital staff. To stay at Amanda’s House, a person typically has to be coming from at least an hour away. Usually, people will stay for a period of five days, and then they can evaluate their situation to decide if they need longer. If the house is ever full,
the Glens Falls Hospital has many partners that they work with to provide families other rooming options. For example, the Queensbury Hotel will provide discounts to patients at the hospital.

The impact that the house has had on the town is indescribable. From its origin, thousands of people have spent the night. “It’s profound. I’m very grateful to be involved with it, it’s a very special home. It truly is a home away from home,” shared Tom. Last year, the house had around 350-night stays, and this year they are on pace to match, if not exceed, that number. 

While it is heartbreaking for any family to be in the situation where their loved one is ill, the home gives them the comfort they need during such a difficult time. Additionally, so many people have been inspired by Amanda’s story and all the house provides that they themselves volunteer to keep the house functioning. 

“It’s a privilege to be part of it, to be in a position to help others and to work so closely with volunteers that are interested in helping others as well,” Tom said.

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, you can visit the Glens Falls Hospital website for more information. To donate to Amanda’s House directly, visit the following website: www.glensfallshospital.org/services/community-services/amandas-house