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By Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs
The Fisher House of Alaska hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction for the Fisher House II June 6, 2017.
Since opening in 2012, the 12-suite Fisher House has been at maximum capacity. As a remedy, the installation commander provided a temporary annex location for an additional 15 families who need a free temporary lodging while their families are receiving medical care.
“Today, we are celebrating a start of a brand new Fisher House project,” said Mary Considine, Fisher House Foundation chief of staff. “A second Fisher House is necessary because since we opened this first house, there has a great need for families to have the lodging assistance, so we are grateful that we have the opportunity to build a second Fisher House and provide that resource.”
Due to the long waiting list to stay at the Fisher House, the manager was hearing stories of military and veterans declining medical procedures because they had no place to stay in Anchorage.
“We have stories of people sleeping in their cars, canceling their medical care because they either did not have a place to stay or [could not] afford their stay, so we have this very long waiting list,” said Jenny Hall, Fisher House manager. “The annex was a just a temporary solution, but these 15 rooms were immediately filled and stayed above 90 percent occupancy rate - so it’s a perfect match for us. Our new house will have 16 rooms, and it’s exactly what Alaska needs and give us a total of 28 rooms to accommodate Alaska families every night.”
In 2016, the Fisher House accommodated 1,636 families and help save those families $1.8 million dollars in lodging accommodation, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Ken Wilsbach, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Alaskan Command, and Eleventh Air Force commander.
“This new facility will meet the critical need as we mentioned,” Wilsbach said. “We’ve been filling up the Fisher House and been using another facility to accommodate the families. [Families go] through stressful times and the Fisher House takes some of that stress and financial burden off.”
With 72 houses nationwide, the Fisher House Foundation has helped more than 300,000 families since the first one opened in 1990.
The $7 million project will be a two-story building with more than 14,000 square feet – 16 suites which include a private bedroom and bath, a shared family room, living room, and common kitchen, and laundry facilities for families.