Hope Lodge Founder Turns 105

Margot Freudenberg portrait hangs in the Charleston Hope Lodge's Margot Room

Margot Freudenberg, the American Cancer Society’s longest serving volunteer, still works to drum up donations for the program she founded, the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. Freudenberg will turn 105 on August 8, 2012. Charleston Hope Lodge Manager Sundi Herring and some volunteers are planning a small birthday party with cupcakes and cards from well-wishers.

Herring said, “She’s the Grande dame, the matriarch of the Hope Lodge program.”

The program provides a free, temporary place to stay when cancer patients and their caregivers have to travel out of town for treatment. There are 31 American Cancer Society Hope Lodge facilities in 22 states. The very first Hope Lodge was founded in Charleston, S.C. in 1970 after Freudenberg approached her local American Cancer Society chapter with the idea.

A physical therapist and a longtime volunteer for numerous service organizations, Freudenberg was visiting hospitals and clinics in New Zealand with a medical team when she learned about a residence for cancer patients who were receiving treatment. She spent the plane ride home writing down all of her ideas for what eventually became the first American Cancer Society Hope Lodge.

Freudenberg has called Charleston home since 1940, when she and her family found safety there after fleeing Nazi Germany. An uncle helped them escape to England, and from there they made it to Charleston, where they had relatives. Freudenberg says her decades of volunteer work is her way of repaying the kindness she has received.

That first Hope Lodge is still in use today, having been expanded and renovated over the years to include 4 historic Charleston houses. There are 17 individual suites for guests and their caregivers, as well as kitchens and common areas. Fittingly, Freudenberg’s portrait hangs in the original house in the “Margot Room,” which is used for support groups and yoga classes.

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