Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge - Birmingham, Ala.

Imagine the prospect of fighting cancer. Now imagine you will be treated at a facility two hours away from your home. The unexpected travel and lodging expenses can place a huge burden on family finances.

The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Joe Lee Griffin Hope Lodge in Birmingham, Ala., offers a solution to cancer patients who must undergo treatment far from home. The Hope Lodge provides housing free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis to cancer patients and their families during their course of treatment. The lodge not only reduces the financial burden, but also provide a much-needed supportive environment.

The Hope Lodge provides a temporary home for about 700 families per year. Each of the 33 guest rooms at Hope Lodge has a private bath and sleeping accommodations for two. It also has a dining room, kitchen, library with computer access and recreational areas. In addition, each floor has a day room and guest laundry with 24-hour access.

Take an Online Tour of the Birmingham, Alabama Hope Lodge

Leading the way

The American Cancer Society named the Birmingham Hope Lodge in honor of longtime volunteer leader and supporter, Joe Lee Griffin, who lost both his first and second wives to cancer before losing his own battle with the disease in 1998. He was a life member of the ACS’s Board of Directors and a contributor to many community causes. His greatest source of inspiration was his family, especially his three daughters Gari, Ginger, and Gana, who celebrated their father’s life by making a substantial donation to the lodge and naming it for him.

Two other donors helped make the lodge a reality. William Ireland, Sr., and Nancy Taylor literally paved the way for a successful lodge, and, in fact, the street where the lodge is located was renamed Ireland Way to honor Ireland as a dedicated, lifelong community volunteer.

"This is the best thing that’s happened in my lifetime," Ireland said. "It means more to me than I thought it would. I’ve been through cancer myself, and I've seen people come a long way and have to go back [home] day after day. This [place] eliminates the travel; you can be taken to and from the hospital. This is outstanding for people who need it," Ireland said.

Taylor agreed, "It’s a dream come true, not only for the American Cancer Society but for Birmingham. There are so many facilities here, and people come from all over the world to have treatment. This makes it so much easier on patients and families." Taylor’s husband passed away from cancer, and the Hope Lodge conference room is named in his memory.

"The return on our investment is great," Taylor added. "I have four children and they all agreed unanimously that we’d get much more enjoyment out of this than having the money."

Rallying around the mission

"Another gratifying thing about the donation," Taylor concluded, "was that we could see where it went, see exactly what it went for, and that it was put to good use."

Other Mid-South Hope Lodges are located in Nashville, New Orleans, and Lexington, Ky.

Patients must have a referral from their doctor and be capable of caring for themselves in order to stay at Hope Lodge. They are also required to maintain their own room. For more information about staying at the Hope Lodge, call the ACS at 1-800-ACS-2345.