Visalia Rotary club breaks ground on "Al's Place"

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- In the South Valley, families caring for a loved one in the hospital will finally have a place to stay.

Cheers and claps filled the air, as Visalia Rotarians and Kaweah Delta Medical Center employees ushered in a new partnership to care for their community with Al's Place, a respite home. "Oh it's fabulous. It's a plan that's been happening for 3 years," said Phil Hornburg, Visalia Rotary Community Foundation.

The empty lot will one day provide free shelter to those who have a sick family member in the hospital. On average, Kaweah Delta cares for more than 90,000 patients in its emergency department every year. "A family member being in the hospital is always a stressful time. And especially when you compound that with travel from out of state or out of the area," explained Lindsay Mann, the CEO Kaweah Delta.

For the past three years, since the Katie Luther Home closed down, the hospital has not had a free housing option. They believe this new home will provide much needed shelter. "During the days the Katie Luther House was operating we had over 280 days of every year with the house fully occupied so we anticipate the house will be fully occupied all times," said Mann.

The project is being supported by the Visalia Rotary Foundation, which is made up of five local clubs. The foundation purchased the lot and will build a two bedroom apartment. Phil Hornburg of the Visalia Rotary Community Foundation explained, "They've all given to this. Some of the members they've done hands on things like removing this house, designing this place, going to build the place, so it's really hands on."

The home will be named Al's Place, after former Rotarian Al Fisher. The foundation will own the home, but Kaweah will operate it. Rotary members hope it will give people a home away from home when they need it most.

Now with the ground breaking in the books, construction will now start on that plot of land. Al's Place is expected to open to families and individuals in July of 2016.
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