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When the doors to Target House opened in 1999, Marlo Thomas, St. Jude national outreach director and daughter of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, addressed the crowd of dignitaries, celebrities and St. Jude patients and their families.
“Target House will allow each family a private haven from the stresses of treatment, as well as a gathering place to take comfort in each other as they undergo similar struggles,” she said. “Target has built on my father’s dream.”
This week, Target House celebrates 10 years of being a home away from home for patients and their families facing long-term stays for treatment at St. Jude.
The partnership between Target Corporation and St. Jude began in 1996. At that time, St. Jude was pursuing ideas to provide long-term housing for patients and their families, and Target was in the process of evaluating its charitable giving. When the two organizations were introduced, a dedicated partnership, with Target House as its centerpiece, was born.
The vision for Target House included private living spaces so that families could nurture each other and maintain comforting family routines while their children underwent treatment. But comfortable common areas were also seen as necessary, to encourage interaction and support among the families. Special playrooms and teen rooms were also part of the design, giving patients and siblings of different ages their own places to play, relax and retreat.
The number of families that Target House benefits expanded in 2002 when Target House II opened, increasing the number of residential suites from 50 to 98. The two-bedroom apartments are fully furnished with everything a family needs, from bed linens to dishes. Since 1999, Target House has provided a home for 1,337 St. Jude families.
Target continues to fund the maintenance and operation of Target House. The company sponsors quarterly carnivals for the children, numerous art parties and special dinner events throughout the year at Target House and St. Jude. Each December, Target’s “Wish List” party helps provide a joyful holiday season for patients and their families. Target employees also give their time and compassion to St. Jude through store promotions and fundraising efforts and through personal visits to Target House and St. Jude.
“Target House is part of the healing process,” said David L. McKee, chief operating officer and interim CEO of ALSAC. “Our families have a safe and secure environment where they can focus on their kids. They can help them get better without worrying about where they will live. Target has never felt like they were finished with St. Jude. They are an ongoing part of our mission.”