Longtime holiday home donor for the terminally ill Doug Hanna took some timeout to chat with us about his home donation experiences.
Doug, how did you first become a house donor?
[Doug] A friend’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He wanted to take her on one last trip around NZ before she became too ill and asked if he could stay at our beach house. We were of course fully supportive and they stayed a few days and loved their time in peace at the beach. After she passed our friend told us how much it had meant to them and that got me thinking. I approached the local cancer Society who also introduced me to the local hospice. Through their counsellors, we have been hosted over 50 families since we began doing this in 2004.
What has surprised you most during your time as a donor?
[Doug] When I first approached the local Cancer Society branch I assumed that lots of people donated their holiday houses for this purpose. I was told that I was the first, which really surprised me. It’s the reason that I loved seeing TimeOut emerge and fully support it as I know a lot of families would also like to do this.
You have been donating your houses for quite a few years now, what is it that has kept you donating for so long?
[Doug] We have received some lovely cards and letters from our recipient families telling us about how much it meant to them. We love hearing about the positive impact that what we do has. We feel privileged to be in a position of owning a property in such a lovely spot and this is our way of sharing some of our good fortune.
Doug’s family on holiday
Tell us your most memorable experience that you have had as a house donor!
[Doug] Because we live 3 hours away from our holiday house we have not met any of our guest families. The most memorable moment was receiving a letter in the mail that was written by a woman who found writing very physically difficult due to her illness so she had dictated it to her daughter to write for her. She told us how she wanted to write to thank us but could only dictate the letter. She described her stay with her family and said how special it was for her. That was years ago and left a real impression on us.
What is your advice to people who may be considering donating their houses?
[Doug] It is a lovely thing to do and is really appreciated. It truly makes a difference to the life of a family who’ve the misfortune to be suffering from a terminal illness. Its only with the offer of support from families with holiday homes that these families can experience some very special time out together away from the reality of everyday life. You’ll feel really good about what you are doing by donating your house.