Her fearless determination in the face of such pressure led to a natural partnership with Modern Health and Modern Community.
In August 2022, Modern Health and WTA Charities donated $10,000 to JW House, a “home away from home” for families experiencing medical crises in Silicon Valley—important work that is strongly aligned with the Modern Health Community mission to promote better mental health and well-being among members of our local communities. And through Modern Health’s partnership with the WTA, while professional tennis player Garbine Muguruza was in town competing in the San Jose Mubadala Classic, she took the opportunity to visit JW House to greet some of the families and present the donation to JW House president Richard Ajluni.
We recently spoke with Richard to learn more about the mission of the non-profit organization, and he shared that JW House is accustomed to serving families facing extremely challenging circumstances, like traumatic injuries, premature births, overwhelming diagnoses, and end-of-life care.
While hospitals are focused on the person in need of medical care, explained Richard, “no one is focused on the caregiver”—so JW House steps in to fill the void. The organization provides a day-use facility, overnight lodging, meals, gas cards, and more to caregivers supporting a family member receiving lifesaving medical care.
In the Silicon Valley, typical nightly hotel rates range from $300 to $500, and many families are in town for an undetermined length of time. So JW House staff and volunteers often find families sleeping in their cars in hospital parking lots, said Richard, subsisting on junk food from vending machines. “We’re too good of a society for this,” he said. “We’re too smart and we have too much to let this happen.”
Other caregivers don’t require overnight lodging, but they are in need of a sense of community and a hot meal—so roughly 50 people eat dinner at JW House each day, donated and prepared by local community organizations every night of the year. Others can stop by JW House during the day for computer access, a hot shower, or a nap on the couch.
Richard shared the story of a mother and two daughters who recently stayed at JW House: One of the girls, 11 years old, was awaiting a lifesaving heart and liver transplant. She was required to be within 60 minutes of the hospital at all times while she waited for a call that a transplant was available. But the apartment the family was staying in had spotty cell service—so JW House staff rushed to find accommodations for them and to have a landline installed in their apartment within days.
Unsurprisingly, mental health needs abound in an environment like this, both among the caregiving family members and the JW House staff and volunteers. “Sometimes the families are anxious, sometimes they’re quiet and grieving,” said Richard. “We try hard to get them out into the community space with our volunteers, who are good at just listening.”