Green Bay, WI -- On East Mason Street in Green Bay sits a home away from home. The Altrusa House is a cozy, safe and nearly free place to stay for out-of-town hospital patients and their loved ones who are traveling 50 miles or more to support their family member during treatment.
"This has been a blessing to be here," said Joan McClain.
McClain lives near Marinette and says without Altrusa House, she couldn't be by her husband's side as he recovers from heart surgery and a stroke at Bellin Hospital. A 10 day hotel stay would be too expensive.
"At Altrusa House, it's been wonderful. They're so friendly," she said with a smile.
Altrusa is an international service organization that's celebrating 80 years in Green Bay.
"It was back in 1980 when the hospitals came to us to ask us if we could take care of a house that they had, and that propelled us years later to build this 12 bedroom house," explained Altrusa President Mary Hanzel.
Each room is decorated by sponsors and other than a one time $10 fee to stay there, Altrusa House runs solely on donations.
"I mean it costs us $99,000 a year to keep this house running," said Hanzel.
It also relies on dedicated volunteers.
"It takes all of us. 24/7 this is covered," said volunteer Mary Pat Cumps.
Whether it's cleaning, cooking or lending an ear, Altrusa House and its volunteers provide a place of peace during a trying time.
"There's days that we laugh with the guests. There's days that we cry," explained Altrusa House Director Cheri Corcoran.
Guests, such as McClain, are thankful for the emotional and financial support.
She says, "When I leave here tonight, I'm going to go to the store and buy some stuff and donate myself."
The volunteers are just as thankful for the opportunity to serve others.
"That I'm actually making a difference in someone's life," said Cumps.
Corcoran adds, "I feel very blessed to be here and to give back."
Since it opened in 2001, Altrusa House has served people from 20 different states and several foreign countries. They work with four Green Bay Hospitals: Bellin, St. Vincent, St. Mary's and Aurora.
Click here for more information about Altrusa House, how to donate, volunteering opportunities and their June 10th golf outing to raise money.