Hope Hollow gives cancer patients' loved ones place to stay while in town
At the end of a winding lane off Olentangy River Road, a sprawling New England farmhouse seems to almost call out its welcome to visitors.
At the door, owners Jane Jacquemin-Clark and Kevin Clark reassure those who arrive that Hope Hollow is indeed a house of warmth, healing and support.
That is important to their guests, who stay at the house while they are in Columbus because a loved one is receiving cancer treatments at an area hospital.
The family and friends of cancer patients receive not only complimentary lodging and food during their stays but also support and care from the couple, who know firsthand what it is like to struggle with cancer.
"We want people to know they are really welcome; we let them know we care about what they are dealing with," Jacquemin-Clark said.
Her story began at age 10, when her mother died of pancreatic cancer. Later, an aunt, who helped raise her, died of the same disease.
Seven years ago, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of thyroid cancer. In 2007, following surgery, she received the good news that it seemed to be encapsulated and had not metastasized.
In 2010, she learned she had breast cancer. After two surgeries and seven weeks of radiation treatment, her prognosis seems to be very good.
From those experiences, the couple felt a need to help others facing cancer. They formed Hope Hollow, a nonprofit organization that provides lodging, food and gift cards to people who are staying in central Ohio while their loved ones are being treated at the James Cancer Hospital, Mount Carmel Hospital, an Ohio Health hospital or Children's Hospital.
Some of those they have helped have poured out their appreciation in many ways, including offers to help others. One woman said she would have slept in her car had it not been for Hope Hollow.
The couple express their own gratitude for the business community in central Ohio that helped make their dream a reality.
The Clarks purchased and renovated the house themselves but could not have done it without the help of the man who sold it to them, the bank that financed it and other professionals who seemed to always come through when a challenge would surface.
"The business community in central Ohio has said, 'What do you need? What can I help you with?' " Clark said.
They are particularly grateful to Jane Forbes and Sue Jacobs Grant, landscape designers who created the welcoming landscaping that surrounds the house.
The Columbus Landscape Association formed a Hope Hollow landscape committee to carry out the design, which includes trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs, along with columns flanking the drive, stone walls and a brick entry court.
Inside, the home has several large living areas, three sleeping areas and a meditation room.
The couple tend to play down their part in creating Hope Hollow, which they said is more about the community and the people it serves.
"It is such a privilege to be invited into a family's life at such a difficult time," she said.
To learn more about Hope Hollow or to make a donation, go online to hopehollow.org.