When Lee and Kitty Purgason heard the news that their son had been rushed to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center after a work accident, they traveled as quickly as possible from their home in Southern California to the Bay Area. Shaken by the medical crisis, and realizing that they might need to be in San Jose for a while, they made arrangements to stay with a friend of a friend. A social worker at SCVMC also told them about JW House. It was there that they found an oasis of calm.
“There were many stressors in our lives,” says Kitty, “but with JW House, at least we didn’t have to decide where to eat or stress about the little things. We could count on a warm and delicious dinner. We were able to get our laundry done.” All of this allowed Lee and Kitty to focus on what was most important: the recovery of their son. “He was burned on sixty percent of his body, and bandage changes happened daily. These bandage changes can last two to three hours at a time with no visitors allowed. We couldn’t spend any more time in the hospital cafeteria or we’d go crazy!” Lee acknowledges.
As time went on, JW House continued to surprise the Purgasons with what it had to offer. For Kitty, something as small as finding apricot jam and crackers in the kitchen brought her immense happiness. “It’s one of my favorite snacks, and when I saw it set out on the counter, I couldn’t help but feel at home,” she remembers. She also loved the garden in the backyard, which was a place for her to relax and remind herself that there was still a world out there beyond a hospital room. Lee also felt the tangible support JW House offered, and felt incredibly grateful for the moments of quiet the House gave throughout this difficult time of his life. “We come to JW House every day; it really is a place of refuge—not just a place to read, nap or catch up on email,” Lee feels. Both Lee and Kitty agree that the most important thing JW House has given them throughout their stay is consistency amid the uncertainty of their medical crisis. Kitty explains, “We didn’t know how long it would take for our son to recover. Would the burns heal or would he need a graft? Would the graft heal? One thing we can always count on is the hospitality of JW House.”
That hospitality is expressed through the volunteers. “JW House volunteers work here because they truly care about the people they are helping,” recalls Kitty. “For us, their kindness has been an important form of support throughout our time in San Jose.”
Their son was released from the hospital after one month—half the time that they had originally feared. As they look back on that dark month, there are many lights that made it less dreadful—including JW House.