ZBT gives back

Fraternity volunteers at new low-cost housing nonprofit

Gabrielle Buffington, Staff Reporter

The Transplant House of Cleveland (The House), a new nonprofit organization that temporarily houses hospital patients, is opening in University Circle with a little help from the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at CWRU.

The House offers free or reduced-cost hospitality housing to those undergoing organ transplants. The goal of the House is to provide a stress-free environment where patients, friends and family can find comfort and support in a home away from home.

Twenty-five ZBT brothers volunteered on Sept. 27 to help spruce up The House’s location by weeding gardens, painting the entryway, moving and assembling furniture, putting together electric recliners donated to the nonprofit and installing curtain rods and handheld showerheads in the available apartments.

The House’s first transplant patient and her mother moved into the first furnished apartment on July 20, and more apartments have opened to new patients since. There are currently five apartments available, with guests occupying three. There are seven apartment suites, along with a community suite, that should open in less than a month.

The House will be hosting a grand opening on Oct. 9, which will require many hands to ensure that the suites are ready for future residents. Refurbishing apartments can be a tough task for a nonprofit organization, especially when they are a bit short on staff.

“We have just one part-time staff person and the rest of us are volunteer board members,” said Elaine Turley, The House’s secretary. “So you could imagine how setting up eight apartment units is overwhelming for us. We were very thrilled to have all that hands-on help.”

The brothers of ZBT received an outpouring of support one month ago when an airplane crash claimed the lives of two of their brothers. The support they received from the community, along with their own life experiences, encouraged the fraternity to reach out to The House.

“[The brothers are] very tuned into organ transplantation because one of their brothers is a kidney transplant recipient,” said Turley. “And as Marcus [Dempster, ZBT president] said, the community reached out toward them a month ago when they needed it, so they wanted to turn around and do the same for someone else in the neighborhood.”

The ZBT brothers were eager to serve the University Hospitals community while getting their hands dirty. They were the House’s first set of volunteers, but Turley hopes they won’t be the last.

Turley said that the House is looking for volunteers that can make a once-a-week commitment for two or three hours to help Cassie Rosenbaum, the Operational Manager. Volunteers are needed to help with office work, assist Rosenbaum with checking families in and out, prepare rooms for new guests, and even bake muffins to serve to guests as part of the continental breakfast. The House is also looking for donations of paper towels, Kleenex and laundry detergent.