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A home for warriors' families

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By Carolyn Risner

When military men and women are treated for extended periods at any one of this country’s 1,200 medical facilities, their recuperation and peace of mind is enhanced by the support of their families.

But everyone cannot afford hotel rooms for long periods.

That’s where Fisher House comes in.

Founded in 1990 by Zachary Fisher and his wife Elizabeth, Fisher House provides free accommodations giving veterans and their families a home away from home during treatment or rehab, said Rick Fabiani, president of the Gainesville Fisher House Foundation.

Fabiani told Williston Rotary members Tuesday that Fisher Houses are located at every major medical center in the United States and now it’s time to bring one to Gainesville.

The Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Fabiani said, serves 50 counties in Florida and South Georgia and is one of the most utilized VA medical centers in the United States.

A Fisher House, unlike hotels, is a home–but on a grander scale. Families have full reign of the houses and use it as if it were their home–meaning there are no maids or housekeeping staff and they clean up after themselves.

Gainesville Rotary has taken the development of a Fisher House on as a major project and is currently in fund-raising mode for the house.

An anonymous benefactor has contributed $1 million for the start-up fund, leaving $1.5 million more to raise for the potential 21-unit house.

When Zachary Taylor started Fisher House 19 years ago, his foundation paid 100 percent of the buildings’ construction.

Today they match funds raised dollar for dollar.

And that’s where residents of Levy County come in.

Fabiani challenges every person in the service district of the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center to pledge $2. The Fisher Foundation will match that and in no time at all, Gainesville-served veterans will have a house.

Scout troops, churches and JROTC  can all have a vested interest in the construction of the area’s first Fisher House by raising funds and spreading the word, Fabiani said.

For more information on Fisher House or to make a pledge, visit www.fisherhouse.org, www.GainesvilleFisherHouse.org or call 375-4027.