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Virtual tour benefits residence house for young patients’ families

Virtual tour benefits residence house for young patients’ families

Veteran South Bay radio broadcaster Lissa Kreisler and Mercury News columnist Sal Pizzaro didn’t have to dress up to co-host this year’s breakfast fundraiser for the JW House. In fact, they got to stay in their pajamas to film a virtual tour of the residence house on the Kaiser Hospital campus in Santa Clara, where families can stay for free while a loved one is in the hospital.

The “Celebration of Hope” tour will be shown April 29, 8-8:30 a.m. The event is free, but fundraiser participants can donate to the nonprofit when they register. The fundraising goal for the virtual tour is $100,000.

During the tour, guests will learn about the JW House and meet one family who explains how the facility has been a lifesaver during the pandemic.

Pizarro and Kreisler—whose show, “Community Storytelling,” is in its fourth season on Los Gatos community channel 15 (KCAT TV)—will also chat with Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmore and San Jose Sharks mascot SJ Sharkie.

The services offered by the JW House have become even more vital during the pandemic, since most hospitals are allowing only one parent or guardian to stay with a child who is receiving medical treatment, and siblings aren’t allowed to visit. This leaves family members who are from outside the area to fend for themselves when they can’t be with a patient.

“There’s an inherent problem in our healthcare system,” said JW House Executive Director Richard Ajluni. “Healthcare providers take care of the patient, but nobody’s cued up to care for the families, the parents, the spouse of the sick person. That’s where we jump in.”

JW House opened in 2008 to provide a place for families to stay while their children underwent cancer treatments. The house is named for Jan-Willem Knapen, a student at Bellarmine College Preparatory who launched a drive to build the residence house before his death from cancer in 2005 at age 16.

The nonprofit has since expanded its services to include overnight lodging, day use services, meals and support to any family in the Bay Area with loved ones in Silicon Valley hospitals.

“We want to keep this home open for the families we serve,” Kreisler said. “Anyone could be one of these families someday.”

To RSVP for the free “Celebration of Hope,” visit

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