Host Spotlight: The Koym Family
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Jen Koym. Our family consists of my husband, Todd, our three-year-old daughter, Lily, and myself. We have lived in Charlottesville for over a decade and love our community and the beautiful natural surroundings here. Todd works for an environmental company in town doing IT work and I am an artist and illustrator, specializing in surface pattern design. We love hiking, biking, cooking, DIY’ing, and spending time with Lily.
How did you become involved with LilyPads Housing?
In 2015, our daughter, Lily, was born with a very serious and rare heart condition that required us to travel to Boston Children’s Hospital many times over the course of the next two years. As you can imagine,
staying in a hotel in Boston for multiple weeks at a time would have been a huge financial burden for our family. Thankfully, we were put in touch with an organization in Boston, Hospitality Homes (www.hosp.org), which places families in need of hospital lodging in host homes in the community. We reached out and within an hour, one of their wonderful staff members was on the phone with us coordinating our visit. Each time we travelled to Boston, they placed us with an amazing host family. These families welcomed us into their homes with open arms and hearts, helped us navigate complicated stays in Boston, and showered us with kindness, empathy, and compassion during one of our most difficult times. By the end of each stay, we felt like we were a part of their family and still keep in touch with all of them today.
Why did you become a host?
Todd and I have been hosting people through various non-profit organizations for over ten years. It began after I bicycled across the country in 2001, and was offered lodging by many, many kind people along the way through a hospitality organization for cyclists. When we returned home from Boston with our daughter in a stable condition and learned that our Ronald McDonald House cannot accommodate the number of UVA pediatric families that need lodging, we knew that we needed to act. We founded LilyPads Housing, modeling it after Hospitality Homes in Boston, to try and help meet that outstanding need. For us, hosting is a way to “pay it forward.” We have received so much hospitality from kind strangers throughout our lives, especially during our daughter’s medical journey. Now, we have the ability and space to try and help other families that may be facing similar life-altering and difficult situations and we are blessed that we can do so.
Is there anything else that you would like your guests to know?
We want our guests to know that we will welcome them into our home with open hearts and arms. We want them to know that we will be there for them, as much or as little as they need us. We understand that there are times when a listening ear is helpful and times when they may prefer to be left alone. Ultimately, we hope that by hosting, we can help lessen the financial and emotional burdens that having a child in the hospital can entail.