Making a Difference: Palmetto Palace - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Making a Difference: The Palmetto Palace

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Waiting for a loved one in a hospital waiting room can d be anxiety filled. A Lowcountry organization is trying to make your experience a little less trying.  The Palmetto Palace is making a difference.

It's the little things that mean a lot, and bags packed by volunteers are on their way to provide comfort to families at hospitals. It's a part of hospitality day for The Palmetto Palace, a non profit that provides housing assistance for families that are in medical crisis due to a patient being in the hospital.

Dr. Youlanda Gibbs is founder and executive director. She says, "If families are in the hospital and can not afford a hotel, or can not afford a meal and they live 25 to 30 miles away from Charleston, we provide assistance. However they must not be eligible for the other hospitality houses like Hope Lodge or Ronald McDonald House. I was in a role at a local hospital, and frankly I realized people were sleeping in hospital waiting rooms, and eating out of vending machines, or finding their car for lodging, and after researching and finding out that the resources were limited to families that did not have cancer or family that did not have a pediatric patient. There weren't any other resources, and that's how the palmetto palace got started."

Families would pay five to twenty-five-dollars for lodging, and scholarships were available for families that could not afford to pay any money.  Dr. Gibbs says, "We've been able to provide more than 120 nights and provide 1,700 meals and we are out of funds." The Palmetto Palace partners with hotels near hospitals. Patrick Rogers is general manager of Marriott Hotel. He says, "It's been a wonderful experience for myself and my hotel. We're here for the call. She explained what the need is at the hospitals, and the number of people that were coming from outside for unexpected emergencies, and it was difficult to see them living in the waiting rooms, trying to make important decisions about health care."

Right now The Palmetto Palace is out of funds, but the organization is still reaching out to help families, by giving 350 bags filled with donated items.  Dr. Gibbs says, "I call it the waiting room survival kit. We have crossword puzzle books in the bags. We have a small pillow that was made with love from the women's missionary society at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church. We have lap sized blankets, water, a pen, soap. We have a wash cloth. Just things that we think that families would need in order to survive in a waiting room while they wait. I know we're making a difference."

News 2 tagged along with The Palmetto Palace during the first stop at the V.A. Hospital. Audrey Hanes received a bag while waiting for a loved one in waiting room. She says, "Oh wow. This is nice. This means a lot knowing that someone cares. Thank you. What a wonderful surprise."

Charles Knipper also received a bag. "I think that's wonderful that you bring something like this in for them, and make a terrible time a little more enjoyable," says Knipper.

Students at Windsor Hill Arts Infused School, a News 2 Cool School played a major roll in this project. They collected the majority of the donated items for the hospitality survival kits.

The Palmetto Palace plans to have a fundraiser event to continue to help families. They are applying for grants and looking for corporate sponsors. They need donations and volunteers. If you would like to help, click here: http://thepalmettopalace.com/

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