Doug and Andrea Froese of Abbotsford first met with representatives of Communitas Supportive Care Society in 2007 to discuss their dream of building a respite facility for children with severe disabilities.
They were inspired by their son Matthew, then six years old, and the challenges they often faced as a family in meeting all his needs.
Matthew passed away in August 2010 at the age of nine, but Thursday marked the grand opening of Matthew’s House as part of the Campus of Care project on Marshall Road next to Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
“I never would have believed that Matthew wouldn’t have had a chance to stay here (in Matthew’s House) … but his time was up here,” Andrea said tearfully in her speech at the opening celebration.
“This is the house that Matthew built.”
Doug thanked everyone involved in the project over the years.
“We are very excited to celebrate the opening of Matthew’s House, and we know it will be a blessing to the community and the families it serves.”
Matthew was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, depriving him of oxygen for several minutes. His disabilities included vision impairment, an inability to walk or speak, stiffened limbs and eating problems.
He died unexpectedly when he stopped breathing and could not be revived.
Matthew’s House, which is facilitated by Communitas Supportive Care Society, will provide a “home away from home” for children like Matthew from the ages of four to 18 who live with complex health-care needs.
Up to five children at a time can stay at the home-like facility for anywhere from two days to two weeks. Staff will include residential support workers and licensed practical nurses, supervised by a registered nurse.
Two family suites enable parents to stay temporarily while their child makes the transition to a stay without them.
The 4,000-square-foot home will welcome its first guest on Nov. 25.
Matthew’s House is the first of the Campus of Care partners to open. The project also includes Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and Holmberg House, an adult hospice operated by the Abbotsford Hospice Society.
Dignitaries attending the grand opening included Mayor Bruce Banman, and MLAs Darryl Plecas and Simon Gibson.
The public is invited to Matthew’s House for an open house on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 1 to 5 p.m. The event will include tours, refreshments and draw prizes.
Those who would like to make a contribution to the ongoing operation of Matthew’s House can do so by contacting Communitas at 604-850-6608 or by visiting mattshouse.ca.