LilyPads is a non-profit community hospitality organization that is working to bring greater medical housing options to Charlottesville, Virginia.
Our mission at LilyPads is to provide no-cost, short-term housing in volunteer host homes for families and friends of pediatric patients undergoing medical care at the University of Virginia or other medical facilities in Charlottesville, Virginia. We engage community members who open up their homes at no cost to patients and their families, offering overnight stays when people travel here for often life-saving medical treatment. We hope this compassionate, home-away-from-home experience will bring emotional and financial relief to guests in need.
Lily Koym was just four months old when her parents, Jen and Todd Koym, were told she had a rare, often-terminal congenital heart defect (CHD). For her first five weeks, Lily had been hospitalized in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the University of Virginia, fighting for her life.
On that day, their local surgeon said, “We think you should take your daughter home and enjoy what time you may have left with her.”
Thankfully, their cardiologist refused to give up on their sweet daughter. They sought second opinions. Boston Children’s Hospital gave them the gift of hope; they were willing to perform the risky open-heart surgery their daughter required.
After reaching out to friends and family in the Boston area, they were connected with Hospitality Homes, an organization dedicated to placing families in need of housing with host homes in the community.
“We tried to reserve a room at one of the two hospital hospitality houses, but these houses fill up months in advance. Lily’s open heart surgery could require weeks, if not months, in Boston, and hotel rooms close to the hospital are often upwards of $150/night. We could not afford a hotel stay,” recounts Todd.
“We are forever grateful that we found Hospitality Homes,” says Jen. “Our wonderful host families took care of us both physically and emotionally.”
Since her daughter’s birth, Jen has become involved with a number of organizations dedicated to raising awareness for CHD. “I felt heartsick after learning of an out-of-town mom having to stay at a hotel in Waynesboro during her child’s open-heart surgery at UVA,” Jen recalls. “Ronald McDonald House was full, and so were all of the hotels in Charlottesville because it was UVA’s graduation weekend. That day, I realized that I needed to do something.”
After recruiting doctors, nurses, social workers, and parents to join the cause, Jen founded LilyPads.