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Long Beach Fisher House Breaks Ground At VA Hospital

Published: November 3, 2015

At the groundbreaking on the new Fisher House at the VA Long Beach Medical Center are (l-r) Steve Kuykendall, fundraising chair; Mike Walter, donor; Terry Geiling, fundraising co-chair; and Nancy Geiling.
PHOTO BY VA LONG BEACH HEALTHCARE SYSTEM MEDICAL MEDIA
At the groundbreaking on the new Fisher House at the VA Long Beach Medical Center are (l-r) Steve Kuykendall, fundraising chair; Mike Walter, donor; Terry Geiling, fundraising co-chair; and Nancy Geiling.

On Oct. 6, ground was broken on the VA Long Beach Healthcare System campus adjacent to CSULB for what will eventually become the Long Beach Fisher House. The facility, which is expected to open next summer, will serve as a home away from home for families of patients who are being treated at the medical center.

The 16,000-square-foot building will house 16 suites with private bathrooms, a shared kitchen and a common living room area. Total cost of construction is $6 million. Fisher House Foundation, Inc. provided $3 million and is covering construction management. Another $2.7 million has been raised locally, including a generous $100,000 donation from CSULB professor Mike Walter and his wife, Arline.

“Our contribution honors my brother, First Lt. George H. Walter, who died while serving as a jet fighter pilot in the Marine Corps,” said Walter, who is an executive assistant to President Jane Close Conoley and a professor in the College of Business Administration. “My brother would understand how important it is that families have a place to stay nearby while their loved ones recover and rehabilitate.”

The Fisher House is uncommon in that no family ever pays to stay at the facility. In addition, once the structure is built and furnished, it is donated to the Veterans Administration, which assumes responsibility for all future operations and maintenance.

“People will come from all over to stay at the Fisher House while their loved ones are at the VA,” said Steven Kuykendall, president and CEO of Fisher House Southern California and fundraising chair for the Long Beach facility. “Donating to our campaign is really the perfect way for the Long Beach community to thank our veterans and military personnel for their service and sacrifice.”

Fundraisers still need to raise $300,000 before the end of the year in order to complete construction.

The VA Long Beach Healthcare System serves more than 55,000 veterans and active duty personnel, many of whom also attend classes at CSULB. You can learn more about the Fisher House at www.fisherhousesocal.org.