Come to the Hope Lodge as guests. Leave as friends.

Come as guests. Leave as friends. That's the motto of the Hope Lodge in downtown Minneapolis.

Adults receiving cancer treatments in the Twin Cities area who reside 40 miles away can receive free lodging at the Hope Lodge in Minneapolis.

In February, Team Yarn - Head Huggers donated 45 hats, scarves, shawls and afghans to the Richard M. Schulze Family American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. While there, we received a tour of the facility, and left quite impressed.
The Team Yarn donation on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. Left to right: Brad Slater, Debbie Nelson of Hope Lodge, Tesha M.C. Pettit, Amy Slater and Joselyn Pettit.
Team Yarn donated a heaping box of 45 items to the Hope Lodge on Feb. 26, 2013.

Brad Slater carries in a large box of Team Yarn donations into the Hope Lodge.

Our tour guide: Debbie Nelson

Debbie Nelson of the Hope Lodge gave us a detailed tour through the facility. No one but guests are allowed on the top two floors in order to prevent illness from spreading to those with weak immune systems. But the tour of just the main floor and the basement took about an hour.

Visitors are beeped into the facility from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and are then required to fill out a check-in form. Guests are given the code to the door. There's a jar of candy at the desk, and information posted on upcoming events. "We try to do activities that help make their stay more enjoyable," explained Nelson. "If you've got to be here, we're trying to make it more fun." A church came in recently with homemade ice cream, and the Junior Miss contestants performed.

A bin full of donated hats and scarves is by the front door. (There's another in a room used to introduce guests to the facility.)

"We're the family you didn't really want to have," explained Nelson. The goal of staff at the Hope Lodge is that guests there offer support and encouragement to each other. "Many establish good friendships," she pointed out. The average stay for one guest is 11 nights, although those who have a bone marrow transplant are there for 120 days. The average cost to the American Cancer Society to provide free lodging for one night is $50.

There are 40 private guest rooms that accommodate two people per room. Some come with spouses and others with supportive friends or other family members. Sleep Number donated all the beds. Each has telephone and internet access.

The Hope Lodge caters to adults battling cancer. Those who are under 18 stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

The Hope Lodge isn't a hotel. Guests are responsible for their own food and laundry while they are here. Once they leave, volunteers clean out the rooms to prepare them for the next guests. Alcohol and tobacco are prohibited -- which can be tough rules to follow for some.

There are journals in each room, and guests leave words of encouragement for those who come after them. "They get the most encouragement from each other," observed Nelson.

The Hope Lodge is quietest on the weekends, when guests tend to return home for a few days.

The facility in Minneapolis was built on donations. The Richard M. Schulze family (the founding CEO of Best Buy) donated $5 million to the Minneapolis facility in honor of his first wife, Sandy, who died of mesotheliome on June 22, 2001. The University of Minnesota donated the land, upon which an Econo Lodge had formerly stood. There are 31 Hope Lodges across the country, mainly along the East Coast. The nearest one is in Rochester; there is also one in Marshford, WI and in Iowa City, Iowa.

"The U has a vested interest in us," noted Nelson, because of the number of guests at the Hope Lodge who are treated at its hospital.

A perk of staying at the Hope Lodge is the free shuttle service is from the Hope Lodge to the University hospital. It comes every half hour during the day, and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are currently 10 staff members at the Hope Lodge -- two are full-time -- and lots of volunteers. Folks can sign up on a Google Calendar, and a newsletter goes out each week listing the various needs at the facility.

Every Hope Lodge is different, according to Nelson.

In Minneapolis, there is a small chapel/meditation room just off the reception area. Items within it have been donated by various people.
We enjoyed looking through the hand-crafted kaleidoscope in the chapel/meditation room.

There are two computer areas, one on the main level and one in the basement.
The computer room off the main lobby houses one computer station.

Donors are recognized in the hallway between the lobby and the dining room.

The kitchen and dining rooms eat up a large chunk of the mail level. There are six full equipped kitchen areas, and each guests is assigned to one based on room number. Each guests also gets his/her own fridge and cupboard space.
Assignments via room number are posted on each fridge and cupboard area in the 6 fully equipped kitchens.

Plates from across the country decorate the dining room. They have been donated by past guests.

Just off the dining room, there is a spacious outdoor patio with grills and patio sets. Last year, two log swings were donated by Lowe's.

An art gallery fills up the hallway walls between the kitchen area and the Great room. The artwork is rotated monthly, and is for sale.
The art gallery

In the great room, there is a two-side fireplace, couches and tables for games such as chess. The only televisions in the facility are located in the common areas in order to encourage guests to interact with each other.

A table for games sits by a window.

There is a TV, fireplace and several seating areas in the Great Room.

Nine different support groups meet in the conference room. It is also the place to find various craft nights and supplies ranging from stuff to make jewelry to crochet and knitting items to scrapbooking supplies.

The library is fully stocked with both books and videos. Guests can grab a book and don't have to worry about returning it.

Half of the space downstairs is used to store the wide range of donated items the Hope Lodge receives, everything from toilet paper to detergent.

The exercise room was equipped by Lifetime Fitness.

The TV room downstairs doubles as a shelter during bad weather. There is always a puzzle going at one table. The second computer room with four computer stations is located off it.

Just a few steps away is the laundry room. Appliances were donated by Whirlpool. A sewing machine is set up in one corner.

The last room downstairs houses a pool table and ping-pong table.

The Schulze family’s wish for all guests would be that you find strength, encouragement, support, compassion, camaraderie, and faith during your stay at the Hope Lodge. And as you leave its door, may hope, peace, and good health follow you always.


2500 University Ave. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414


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