Meeting the Challenge – The Johnson and Bedford families

The Johnson and Bedford families are two of the thousands of families who have called Family House home.  Their stories inspire us and show the true meaning behind the Family House Family Assistance Fund.   

The Johnson Family

Cedric Johnson came to family house over a year ago.  He and his mother, Ollie Johnson, traveled from Northwestern Ohio toPittsburgh, to wait for “the call.”  As many families of transplant hopefuls can attest, “the call” is equally frightening and exciting to receive.   It means life is about to change in a very big way!  Cedric was in dire need of “the call” as he waited for a heart and double lung transplant. 

On Christmas day, his nurse called to say ‘get to the hospital!’  The following morning, he received the much needed, much anticipated transplant.

It has been a long journey, but a compassionate one – filled with the love and care of his mother and visiting family members.  Cedric came back to Family House Neville to recover with plenty of support.  Now he is staying in a rehab center onPittsburgh’sNorthShore, where his mother travels to each day by public bus to visit and care for him.  Although his post-transplant experience has proven to be challenging as he adjusts to his new organs and medication, he finds a way to encourage himself and his family.  In fact, Ollie mentioned that “Cedric has been positive since we came here – he always says ‘Mom, I’m gonna be alright.’” 

“Neville house is a home away from home.  The staff here is very courteous and kind to all the guests.  Most of the guests have something in common.  We share our experiences with each other which makes the time spent here memorable and easier to cope with.  We would not want to stay anywhere else.  We have made some life long friends while here and exchange phone numbers to keep in touch.  It is comforting to know how they are doing.”

The Bedford Family

When Barry needed a lung transplant and coronary artery bypass procedures, the required relocation fromTennesseetoPittsburghwas the only thing to do.  Neville Family House was the first stop for Nancy and Barry Bedford during an initial evaluation by the UPMC lung transplant program.  The staff of Neville was very accommodating; questions were usually answered before they were asked.  Barry decided then that Neville would be their extended home away from home. Nancytook family leave as a nurse practitioner with the VA, as family and friends rallied.  Even Teddy, a 10-year-old Portuguese water dog, who had never been left alone, had his personal in-home caregiver.

The lack of personal stuff was quickly replaced with warm, caring humans, many of whom were traveling the same hopeful journey.  Those who forged before us quickly became the mentors.  After moving in on October 12, the call of urgency came on November 8, 2009.  The journey from the waiting area to the surgical suite was done in record time and Dr. Toyoda and crew were phenomenal.  While Barry called UPMC his short term home,Nancyreturned daily to Neville to give and receive the comforting words and hugs so desperately needed.  The extended family members came and went and new members were added on a daily basis.  The friendships made over shuttle rides, parking woes, walks to and from the hospital, meals, trips to the grocery, shoveling snow (yes, event the historic 21 incher), laundering and late night talks are cherished forever.

 After calling Family House Neville “home” for five and a half months, the car was packed and the long trip back toTennesseebecame a reality.  Barry’s health has permitted longer spans between trips back to UPMC and Neville.  Extended family stretch across theUnited StatesandIceland!  The magic of Family House carries on as do the beautiful, lasting friendships which otherwise would have never been realized.

Nancy and Barry Bedford


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Family House Young Business Leaders

Family House has created a new means to heighten community outreach. They are the Family House Young Business Leaders, fondly known as the YBL. Starting with a fresh viewpoint, the group is charged with increasing awareness of the mission of Family House in order to raise “friends” and “funds”.

The YBL was formed under the guidance of Family House board members and executive staff to connect with the dynamic and emerging young business leaders in the Pittsburgh region. Each member of YBL was nominated by a community or business leader based on leadership skills in their professional arena and dedication to philanthropy.

Bruce Coleman, Co-chair of the Advancement Committee, remarked, “This is a very energetic group of young professionals. They have an unparalleled enthusiasm and we are very excited about their potential.” During their most recent meeting, the agenda was full and many exciting initiatives are in development for the coming year. Some upcoming happenings are: a craft brewing experience, spa experience (for the ladies), summer music concert series, and, to cap off, a golf event at Birdsfoot Golf Course. Future events and social media will be introduced into the marketplace in the next several months.

“We are thrilled to have the Family House Young Business Leaders on board with our critical mission”, states Christie Knott, Executive Director of Family House. “These young people bring new perspectives to our outreach efforts and we enjoy their eagerness. Our guests will ultimately benefit from their efforts and for that, we are very grateful.”


Family House Young Business Leaders are a volunteer extension of Family House dedicated to increasing awareness of the mission of Family House; expanding the reach of the fundraising efforts and engaging young business leaders to broaden the mission.

Please contact us for more information about joining or nominating someone for YBL.

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National Volunteer Appreciation Week

In honor of National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we wanted to share this wonderful story about two of our house volunteers.  Donna and Gregg represent the more than 270 house volunteers who are an essential part of the daily operation of our houses. 

A Sunday Team

Every other Sunday, when guests arrive at Family House Neville, they will be greeted by a mother/son team – Gregg and his mother Donna.  While most high school seniors are otherwise occupied, for the past three years, Gregg has been aiding the guests and staff of Family House.  He took over this spot when his sister went off to college and he became Mom’s partner.  As he prepares information for guests, Donna is preparing and checking rooms for incoming guests. 

Gregg attends Seton LaSalle High School and has received early acceptance to Allegheny College with a current view to a career in finance.  His interests include an active participation in karate, the International Club and he works in the school office.  At Family House, Gregg enjoys meeting the guests and having the opportunity to interact with people from many different places.

Having come to Family House at the suggestion of another long time volunteer, Donna is very aware of the challenges of transplant patients as she is a seventeen year survivor of a liver transplant.  Her positive and encouraging attitude is helpful to folks who are going through what she experienced many years ago.  She is grateful that she has the opportunity to offer knowledge and support to guests who are going through stressful times.  She remembers a time when she could be with a gentleman who had suffered a loss and could allow him to express his grief. 

When asked what he has learned while volunteering at Family House, Gregg replies, “We should be thankful for what we have” and that he is “grateful to still have his Mom after all these years.”

This mother and son Sunday Team are a wonderful and valuable asset to Family House.

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Hello and Welcome to Family House Pittsburgh’s Blog!

Whether you have known about Family House for over 20 years or just stayed with us last week, you know that we are very proud of our mission to support patients and families being treated at any Pittsburgh based hospital, hospice or rehabilitation center.  Since 1983 we have welcomed more than 120,000 guests into our four homes and pride ourselves on providing comfortable, safe and affordable living accommodations. Our guests may be with us a single night or over 22 months; but their experience with us is just the beginning of our mission. The support of over 250 house volunteers and more than 100 group volunteers allows us to provide tangible items like stocked food pantries, prepared meals, toiletries, and other necessities. Our staff and volunteers also offer understanding as well as emotional support and connections to other families experiencing similar situations and access to valuable resources.  Based on our collective and extensive experience with critical illness, we are often able to anticipate the needs of our guests and provide guidance and information to support them on their journey of care. We operate with the motto of “Amazing things happen when your heart is in the right place”…our hearts are open to those in need and find themselves in a city where they may be strangers.

 We hope to use this blog to share our knowledge, practical advice, post articles that will help our guests and provide stories from our guests, volunteers, staff and supporters. Please take some time to visit our website to learn more about Family House.

 Thank you for taking the time to read and participate in our blog. 


Christie Knott- Executive Director


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