Our History

Many, many years ago…Founders and Board of Directors members have personal experience staying at Ronald McDonald Houses when close family members are seriously ill. Learn how much a hospital hospitality house can make a stressful time easier.

September 2002

Carol W. is moved to Kindred Hospital-Sycamore (where part of her immediate family lives) after weeks of unsuccessful attempts to wean her from the ventilator at a suburban Chicago hospital.

Fall 2002

Carol and her family members make many good friends in the waiting room and halls of Kindred Hospital as Carol gets stronger. Family becomes aware of how lucky they are to live so close and not have to commute or live in a motel.

Christmas Day 2002

Family celebrates Christmas at Kindred. Carol’s ventilator is wheeled out her room late that evening!

January 2003

Carol moves to Marionjoy Rehab Center. Thank you, Kindred!

Christmas 2003

Carol records and sells the CD “Somebody’s Watching Over M” and raises $10,000 for the American Cancer Society. In all her public speeches, she talks about the importance of “paying it forward”-helping out others in their time of need, not to pay back a favor, but simply out of kindness. Her love of the concept and the way in which she lived her final years were the inspiration for the House’s name.

March 30, 2004

Family approaches Kindred about opening a hospital hospitality house, stating “it will probably be June 2005 before we really start anything.”

August 2004

The family at 719 Somonauk Street, the house right next to the Kindred Hospital parking lot, decides to move.

September 2004

Carol’s family have the house appraised and inspected and make offer. Sellers accept.

December 21, 2004

City of Sycamore grants special use permit. Work on the house can begin.

January 2005

Community learns more about the project and embraces it wholeheartedly. Volunteers take on numerous tasks of bringing the house up to code and make it a “home away from home” for families and friends of patients at Kindred.

March 24, 2005

Pay-It-Forward House welcomes its first guests.

March 24, 2010

Pay-It-Forward House celebrates its fifth anniversary. It has provided a home-away-from home to more than 500 families and over 5700 nights of rest with the help of 150 active volunteers and hundreds of local and other donors. The number of nights of rest provided changes nightly as volunteers welcome new guests to share the comforts of this home-away-from-home.

March 24, 2015

Pay-It-Forward House celebrates its 10th anniversary. We pride ourselves in reporting that we have provided over 14,800 nights-of-rest and its outstanding community participation has created and amazing chain of human kindness that continues to touch many lives.

March, 2020

Pay-It-Forward House celebrates its 15th anniversary and officially has provided over 21,000 nights of rest for guests of patients in DeKalb County!

October, 2021

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.

How Pay-It-Forward-House

Impacts Guests

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