The mission of Pay-It-Forward House is to provide physical and emotional rest in a homelike environment to the loved ones of patients receiving medical treatment in DeKalb County, thanks to the hospitality of local volunteers and the generosity of donors from near and far. Pay-It-Forward House knows it has accomplished its mission when its guests are inspired to extend a kindness, large or small, to another person in need, not to pay back a favor, but to pay it forward just to help.
TRUST in people’s kindness to others and in their respect for the facilities made available to them.
RESPECT for all, especially our guests and the physical and emotional fatigue they are experiencing.
CARING demonstrated by a willingness to provide as little or as much companionship and support as each guest welcomes.
GRATITUDE for the generosity of others who make it possible for guests to find a place of rest and respite.
Story Behind Our Name
When we first opened our doors in 2005, many people were not familiar with the phrase pay it forward. That is less the case today, but in case you’re curious, here is the explanation we felt obliged to print in our February 2006 newsletter.
It has become clear that many people think the name Pay-It-Forward House a bit “strange,” to put it mildly. They have read on our brochure that to “pay it forward is to do a good deed for a stranger in their time of need” or some have heard that the 12-year-old hero of the book, Pay It Forward, set out to change the world through a chain of human kindness. He told people not to pay him back for his “big helps,” but rather to “pay it forward.” But, as one person said, “I don’t get it. The House helps others, but why the name?”
So, let me explain. Our involvement with Kindred Hospital dates back to September 2002. Phil’s sister, Carol, was suffering from stage-four breast cancer and complications had left her on a ventilator, and a patient at Kindred Hospital. That’s how we became aware that, in spite of how tough our situation seemed, we were lucky. We lived within walking distance. We made friends with many families who were not so lucky and were commuting from great distances to be at their loved one’s bedside.
Carol was successfully weaned from the ventilator on Christmas Day 2002 and we were blessed with her presence and love for almost two years after that. She was inspired by the pay it forward philosophy when the book was published in 2000, and wove it into her teaching of middle school students before she became ill.
Once released from the hospital, she put the philosophy into action in the last months of her life, raising more than $10,000 for the American Cancer Society. In spite of being confined to a wheelchair and weakened by chemo therapy, she sang a song and told her story on an inspirational CD to educate women not to avoid going to the doctor out of fear.
As Phil and I considered how to honor her memory, we searched for a way for us to pay it forward as well. Another loss in our lives- the death of my father in 2003-allowed us to take the steps to purchase the property that is now the Pay-It-Forward House. We never imagined that we’d be so blessed by all your help, support and love. We set out to make something good out of the bad in our lives. Thanks to you, an amazing chain of human kindness is touching many lives!
Emeritus Board Member
2021 Moving Forward
In the summer of 2021 the Board of Director’s agreed that a pivot was in order to move toward finding a property that would offer private bathrooms and better accessibility for our guests families, something the 1870 historic home couldn’t offer. When the charming home that served as the organization’s hospitality house for 16 years sold in the fall of 2021, the organization moved toward placing guests families in partner hotels, as they had often done before when demand for rooms exceeded capacity in the hospitality house. The goal of the Board remains to find a new property to serve as a hospitality house for guests for years to come.