CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A staple in the Charleston medical community, the Charleston Hope Lodge, celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday. The Hope Lodge was the first hospitality home in the country and now there are over thirty Hope Lodge campuses around the US and Puerto Rico.
Since 1970 the Hope Lodge has served as a free home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers during treatment. It’s nicknamed the “Birthplace of Hope.”
Saturday, also the birthday of the founder of the Hope Lodge, Margot Freudenberg. She came up with the idea for the hospitality home while traveling through New Zeland as a part of President Eisenhower’s People to People Ambassador program. Freudenberg became the longest-serving volunteer with the American Cancer Society after spending 67 years volunteering for the organization.
“She was an extremely determined person,” said Larry Freudenberg, Margot’s grandson, who attended the 50th anniversary celebration with his wife, Marsha. “When she set her sights on something, it got done.”
The pandemic got in the way of an in-person celebration on Saturday. Instead, a “chain of hope” surrounded the campus with encouraging notes written by community members. It was created by The Garden Club of Charleston.
A large “50” wooden cutout was available for people to sign and write messages on. The trees around the campus were decorated by the Mad Hatter group.
“This tradition of carrying on and bringing hope to the world and the people around us who are cancer survivors, who are fighting cancer who have this amazing sense of love and friendship and care when they come to the hope lodge. It gives them this sense of peace they never thought they would have again,” said Marsha Freudenberg.
The 50th anniversary kicks off the Fifty Days of Hope campaign. The goal is to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Crucial funding for cancer research is facing a low point due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ACS is hoping to raise $500,000 with the campaign.
Susan Pearlstine, a philanthropist, attended Saturday’s small gathering. Her parents, Edwin and Barbara Pearlstine, donated the money for the Hope Lodge to expand in 1997. Susan and her family gave a charitable matching donation of $30,000 to the Fifty Days of Hope campaign with hope that it will inspire others to donate to the cause.
“We so want this place to thrive and to grow and funding has toughened this year,” said Susan Pearlstine.
If you would like to donate to the Fifty Days of Hope fundraiser, there is a GoFundMe set up which can be found here.