Guest House: A Small, But Mighty Nonprofit Celebrates 25 Years

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L-R: Ray, Aida, Adam, Dionne © Courtesy of Guest House Chicago

It started as a backache.

“All of a sudden, my doctors in Puerto Rico told me to travel to the U.S. mainland to be treated at a better-equipped hospital if I hoped to survive,” said Ray Bautista.

“We went directly from the airport in Chicago to Stroger Hospital,” recalled Aida Bautista of the day she and her husband, Ray, returned to the city where they had been high school sweethearts more than 40 years earlier. “Ray was immediately admitted to the hospital and taken right into surgery. I had no idea where to stay during his recovery. I began calling around and the Guest House was the first place where a person answered my call.”

Aida moved into the Guest House in September 2022, and Ray joined her once he was healthy enough to leave the hospital for outpatient treatment. They remained guests until his treatment was completed in December 2023.

guest house
Ray and Aida Bautista Recreating a photo of them from high school © Courtesy of Guest House Chicago

Guest House is a Chicago non-profit with a mission to provide temporary lodging to patients and their families when they need to stay near the hospital, making it possible for people like Ray to get the life-saving treatment they need. The facility on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has 47 fully furnished apartments, and Guest House is the only organization in the Chicago area open to patients of any age receiving any type of treatment. Guest House supports over 700 families each year and never turns families away for lack of funds.

The organization enjoys partnerships with Rush University Medical Center, Stroger Hospital of Cook County, the UChicago Medicine, and UI Health. Thanks to grants from the American Cancer Society, Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network, and other funders, the Guest House supports patients from many other leading Chicago-area hospitals. In addition, Guest House partners with the Road Home Program at Rush to support veterans dealing with PTSD.

“We are pleased to celebrate our 25th Anniversary this year,” said Guest House Executive Director Adam Helman. “Even though we are a small organization, we’re proud to have made a difference for so many families who would not have been able to complete treatment without our help.”

Bedroom © Courtesy of Guest House Chicago
Kitchen / living room © Courtesy of Guest House Chicago
Lounge area © Courtesy of Guest House Chicago

“Guest House strives to be so much more than a safe, affordable, and convenient place for our guests during treatment,” commented Dionne Nicole Smith, Director of Development. “Through our Jane Reich Community Room and volunteer-led programming, we work to build a community of comfort among our guests, reinforcing their sense of dignity and individuality at a time when they might otherwise feel that they have been reduced to a diagnosis.”

Now that Ray’s active treatment has been completed, he and Aida are permanently relocating to Chicago to stay near the doctors who saved his life.

“Aida and I met in high school here in Chicago,” added Ray. “When we moved to Puerto Rico to raise our family, we never expected to live here again. Guest House was a godsend for us in our time of need and we will carry a piece of our time there, and the people we met in our hearts for the rest of our lives.”

To learn more about the Guest House and how to support it as a volunteer or donor, visit their website at guesthousechicago.org

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Guest House builds community and healing by providing comfortable, affordable accommodation for patients and their families throughout their treatment.

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