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2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Christopher's Haven

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Cancer, Family Services, Homeless & Housing, Human Services, Residential Care & Adult Day Programs, Temporary Housing

Mission: Christopher's Haven aims to make a tangible difference in the life of a child and his/her family being treated for cancer at the MassGeneral Hospital by providing a comfortable, fully furnished and equipped apartment during the average 6-8 weeks of outpatient cancer treatment. Christopher's Haven offers a warm and supportive community for both kids and caregivers.

Results: Since opening the first apartment in 2006, we have acquired 7 residential units and a community space for families. 2010 was the first year in full operation. We hosted 50 families in that year. Since opening, we have hosted over 200 families.

Target demographics: Providing affordable and comfortable housing for children receiving outpatient cancer treatment and their families.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Direct benefiaries are the children and their families who are being treated at MassGeneral Hospital for cancer. Christopher's Haven enables families to focus on their child's treatment and not worry about where to stay and how to afford living in an expensive city.

Geographic areas served: United States, International

Programs: Provided temporary housing for pediatric cancer patients and their families as they undergo medical treatment.

Community Stories

40 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2014, and could get the care she needed in Boston. We were so worried about where we would stay and how we would be able to afford it, and then we came in contact with Christopher’s Haven. While there we were immediately comfortable and it didn’t feel like we were anywhere but home. We made so many friends, that we are still in contact with to this day.

Carly14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had the good fortune of being introduced to this amazing organization through a fundraiser last year and fell in love with Christopher's Haven. The amount of genuine passion that goes into making these families feel as comfortably as possible is truly unbelievable. Christopher's Haven provides housing for families from all over the world who's children are battling cancer and getting treated in Boston. From the moment you walk into their facilities, you know you're somewhere special. Whenever a child finishes treatment, they get to ring a bell and then whole facility throws a party in celebration. I've seen these families come in and build beautiful relationships in a safe space with others who are battling the same thing. There is so much warmth and so much love that goes around Christopher's Haven and my greatest wish is to see it grow bigger and bigger as the years go on!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Christopher's Haven continuously finds ways to change the lives of families who have been given the worst possible news and must act quickly. These families are not only given a home, but by residing in one of the apartments at Emerson Place, they are also introduced to an understanding, second family-type of community. Most importantly, Christopher's Haven takes into account all who are effected by the illness, as siblings and family members are made to feel important and valid. God bless these families and the sweet souls behind Christopher's Haven!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A place where compassion and loving people through there toughest battles is a priority. Thank you for loving people!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

We were one of the first few families to stay in the first apartment in May-June 2007, while my daughter, Jamie Buchanan was in treatment. We LOVED it there! We wanted to stay in Boston permanently! Hi Anne Brogan! and Evelyn M! Is Paul still at reception? Who is the nurse there now?? I'd love to see pics of our apartment, right off the elevator, 6th floor!! You are all angels! ❤️❤️❤️
Andrea (Buchanan) Cardillo

Client Served

Rating: 5

My then eight year old daughter was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in May of 2008. Part of her treatment required radiation and her doctors at CHOP recommended proton therapy. At that time the closest facility offering proton therapy was Mass General.

Christopher'sHaven was a godsend to us for our six week stay in Boston during treatment. Despite being in Boston for obviously a traumatic reason, Chistopher's Haven made our stay otherwise a great experience.

Fast forward five years and my daughter is a happy healthy 13 year old today. We think of Boston as our second home and love the city. Thank you Christopher's Haven for being there for my family.

Client Served

Rating: 5

When my four year old son was diagnosed with a rare cancer, we decided to travel thousands of miles away from our home, job, family, and friends to give him the best possible care. When we first arrived in Boston, we spent a couple of nights in a hotel. When my son's nurse asked him if there was anything she could get for him he candidly replied, "dishes." He told her his new house did not have dishes. She smiled and called Christopher's Haven. Alone and in an unfamiliar city, the staff at Christopher's Haven welcomed us as family. My son was so happy there. He became the "superhero" that ran up and down the hall welcoming other families and visitors. He was able make new friends, and I was able to talk to other moms and dads that were going through difficult times as well. We became more than friends. We were sad when we had to leave. My son often asks, "when are we going back home to "our" apartment in Boston?" We had a wonderful experience at Christopher's Haven. The staff made a difficult time much easier for us.

1 Susan277

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 4 year old has a recurrence of her cancer. She was originally diagnosed at age 3 and was treated at MGH. We stayed at Christopher's Haven in the summer of 2012 and they welcomed us back just this passed month to begin her second round of radiation. We have a beautiful apartment across the street from the hospital. The week day are busy with treatment for my sweet girl and we can quickly be home and play or rest as needed. In the weekend there is enough room to welcome my husband and second daughter.

This kind of a stay in this neighborhood would be cost prohibitive to my family. That is to say that My 4 year old would not be able to do this specific treatment if we could not afford a place to stay. Christopher's Haven makes it finically possible for my family to get the treatment we need. But, This place offers so much more then finicial support.

This place is nicely decorated with space to rest an play. The volunteers, interns and staff are here to serve us in so many ways. This place is run on compassion, kindness and generosity. I am humbled and grateful for the time this has given me to spend with my daughter.

I would recommend this to anyone. It has been a life saving organization for us.

Donor

Rating: 5

We are grateful to the MGH and Christopher's Haven for making us fell we are at home. We stay from Jan 2013 until March 2013, and we felt loved . Absolute best place to stay to help family like us when coming from Miami area.

Love you Guys .
Bell Family

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am currently staying at Christopher's Haven with my twelve year old daughter who was diagnosed six month ago with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma of the Lacrimal Gland. This was a very scary diagnosis, I suppose cancer is always a scary diagnosis but we could not find any children with this particular rare type of cancer. Then we found another girl from Florida and spoke to her mother who told us of Dr. Liebsch at MASS General and also about Christopher's Haven. Thank god that she did. Both Dr. Liebsch and Christopher's Haven have been a godsend! During previous visits CH was full and we stayed at a local hotel. Staying at a hotel for a long period of time not only costs a fortune but is soul destroying. CH is a home from home, such a cosy apartment kitted out with everything you could need, and only steps from the hospital. And having the loft is a great advantage, you can join whenever you want, or not. In a difficult situation, it makes the accommodation part so easy. Also there is a comfort in being with people who are going through a similar experience. We are very grateful to Christopher's Haven.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Feeling at home while caring for your child 300 miles away from "home" is a difficult task. Christopher's Haven offered us so much and more than we could have ever asked for! We are so grateful to their organization and everyone that helps in supporting it.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am very grateful to the MGH Proton Team for recommending Christopher's Haven.

Without a doubt, the absolute best place to stay!

A wealth of truly wonderful people who provided much more than 'a home away from home' during an extremely difficult time in our lives.

Whatever happens, no one can take away our truly wonderful memories that we gained
while staying at Christopher's Haven.

We love Boston! Go Red Sox!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Wonderful, supportive place to stay this summer during our son's treatment at Mass General.

Amy_131

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son was diagnosed at 15 months with brain cancer. The best treatment for him, after his surgery, was proton beam radiation, and there was no proton beam within easy travel distance of my apartment.

MGH has the most experience in the country with pediatric proton beam radiation, so I made the decision to take my twin toddlers and myself to Boston. I had initially planned to stay at a friend's place or rent an apartment or do something, when a cousin mentioned Christopher's Haven.

Christopher's Haven provided us a place to stay that was so close to the hospital that I could roll my NPO child out of bed and be at the hospital in minutes every morning, minimizing the time my son was awake and not fed. The apartment they provided was beautifully decorated, with robust furniture to survive twin toddlers, but homey and cheerful feeling. The playroom / gathering area down the hall provided a great place for the kids to play, and to meet and commiserate with the other parents of kids with proton-beam requiring cancers. They were friendly, helpful, and provided pointers, coupons and entrance to a number of activities in the Boston area as well.

I feel lucky and blessed that we were offered space at Christopher's Haven for the duration of my son's radiation.

Jennifer B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

In 2009 my son was diagnosed wit ha brain tumor. We had to move 100's of miles away from our home for 6 weeks so he could get a special type of radiation. We are so blessed that we ended up at Christopher's Haven. I could never say enough good things about our experience there. It was like living among family eventhough ours were miles away. They helped make a very difficult time in our life a little easier. We love it there and I recommend it to everyone who is in a similar situation.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family stayed at Christopher's Haven in 2009 while my son received proton radiation for a malignant brain tumor. They gave us a beautiful place to stay that we could afford and allowed us to have a relaxing "home away from home" close enough to the hospital that we could walk there. While we were there they had two gatherings, where we met the director and the owner, along with several activities for the kids. It was definitely a "home away from home" complete with a caring, supportive family to go with it. I would (and do) highly recommend Christopher's Haven to anyone receiving proton treatment at MGH.

Christina63

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter Kim was diagnosed with brain cancer in August, 2012. After having surgery done in NYC, we decided to go to Boston - MGH for proton radiation. THANK goodness for Christophers Haven!! It was such a great feeling knowing that we were so close to the hospital which made going back and forth (sometimes 2 or 3 times a day..dr appts, radiation, pt or ot, etc) so much easier, it was just a quick walk across the street. I felt right at home with the adorable apt we called home for 6 weeks, fully stocked with everything you would need if it were your own. Clean right from the start. The staff is so helpful and the meeting room was great for having the children get together to watch tv, movies, crafts and just keep each other company during this very difficult time. Loved the nights when dinner was served in the meeting room as well. Treasure the friends we made during our time there as well.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The help, healing and hope that was given to us at Christopher's Haven had a dramatic effect on my son's ability to not only tolerate the proton radiation, but actually heal from his brain surgery.

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son and I stayed here while he received Proton Radiation and speech, vision, occupational and physical therapies. Because of its proximity to MGH he was able to maintain a schedule with up to five appointments each day and still have time to rest and recuperate. He arrived in a wheelchair and left walking. However, Christopher's Haven is more than just affordable and convenient housing. It is a refuge for families during an incredibly stressful time in their lives. The sense of community is amazing. In addition to an amazing professional team (Dan, Martha and Katelyn) the families develop a bond which helps everyone heal, parents, sibling, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Joy_12

Client Served

Rating: 5

Imagine being told your child has a rare cancer & will need to go to a city you've never been to for proton radiation after several brain surgeries. My youngest has Chordoma & his tumor is on the brain stem. It required 3 brain surgeries & proton radiation to save his life. Chemo doesn't work on his cancer. It was tough during the surgeries then having to go to a new city where you don't know anyone & be strong for your child. There are only a few proton radiation centers in the world that treat children with rare head, neck & spine tumors. Boston is one of them so a lot of families travel to this city with hopes of saving their child's life. Finding a place to stay that is close to the hospital that will not financially not bankrupt the families is needed. This is where Christophers Haven is a blessing to many families. They saw a need with rare childhood cancer on the rise.

Christopher's Haven welcomed us & treated us like family during & after our stay. They gave us strength during & after my son's proton radiation treatment in Boston. My son is now a thriving 16 year old in high school. He has few physical problems from his surgeries but cherishes his stay at Christophers Haven. The families, staff, interns & volunteers stood by us during 2 months in a new city for cancer treatments. They are now all life long friends.

A lot of people have been touched by cancer & have seen what these warriors go thru everyday. The children with cancer are treated with adult treatments with lifelong problems to save their life. Parents fight to keep them alive shouldn't have to worry about the expense of where to stay during their treatments. Christopher's Haven made sure that you don't have to worry about housing in Boston where it is very expensive. They also go above & beyond to make sure you feel at home. Most places forget some of the families after they leave. Christophers Haven continues to support the families with love & friendship even after they finish their treatments & go home.

Christopher's Haven needs your support to help the children & their families affected by cancer.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer on 4/29/11 at age 11. We received chemotherapy in Pittsburgh and then were told we qualified for proton beam radiation in Boston. As we looked for places to stay for her 6 week treatment, conventional hotels were unbelievably expensive. Then we learned about Christopher's Haven. It was about a block from Mass General Hospital and offered fully furnished apartments. While this alone was truly a blessing, we received so much more by staying there. Christopher's Haven is for children with cancer and their families. It was our first opportunity to meet other children and families who were going through the same thing we were. It was nice being able to talk with people who could relate to what we were experiencing. The staff of CH offered free massages once a week for all of us, opportunities for parents' nights out, and truly was a home away from home. We made lifelong friendships and I will never be able to thank everyone at Christopher's Haven for all they did for us.

Client Served

Rating: 5

If I had to describe Chrsitopher's Haven (CH) using one word - it would be: BLESSING. My seven year old daughter Madelyn was diagnoised with a rare spinal cancer (Chrodoma). We traveled from Tucson, Arizona for her radiation treatments @ MGH in Boston. I'm a single mother and traveled with two children to a city I had never been to. The director and staff at Christopher's Haven went above and beyond their services to make us feel welcomed, informed, and safe. They helped us find a Summer camp for Madelyn's brother. The camp was Hill House and they too were amazing people. We were there under very stressful circumstances but because of the love and hope given by everyone (employees & guests) @ CH we miss Boston. This Summer we hope to visit our friends at Christopher's Haven and it will not be for medical reasons. We just adore them all. That is how special they are. I'm saving up so we can make this trip happen in 2014. Anything we can do to support this incredible organization and the healing work they do - we are ready to help. If you're family is considering CH I would say it is a blessing and the BEST place for your family.

Barb Sparrow
Tucson, AZ
bsparrow114317@gmail.com

Client Served

Rating: 5

We had to stay in Boston for 2 1/2 months so that my little boy could get the treatment he needed. I truly do not know what we would have done if not for Christopher's Haven!!!! To have our own place and be right across the street to that incredible hospital Mass General....... I remember my little guy getting so sick one night from chemo that I had to put him in his stroller (too weak to walk) and go across the street to be admitted for 2weeks. The apartments are AMAZING and things to do there awesome for the children and parents!!! We have some truly amazing memories from all our time there at Christopher's Haven and the hospital and that incredible town BOSTON!!!! I could not put into words how much you all have meant to us!! THANK YOU!!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family had the opportunity to stay at Christopher's Haven this past summer while our 2.5 year old son was receiving treatment at Mass General Hospital. The protocol for his treatment was 6 weeks of proton radiation treatment with each treatment being under general anethesia. However, several additional procedures were required that lengthened our stay in Boston to 70-days. It was a long, and difficult, summer, but the care and hospitality we received at Christopher's Haven was nothing short of unbelievable. The excellent living conditions, the location directly across the street from Mass General, the wonderful volunteers, the support from other families, scheduled activities, donated meals, and more brought tremendous comfort to our family during our time in Boston. Furthermore, we have another young son, 3.5 years old, that was with us the entire time and the attention for the siblings was valuable and meaningful. We will be forever grateful to everyone involved with Christopher's Haven for looking after our family. -Joshua W. Podkaminer, Syracuse, NY

Client Served

Rating: 5

When we were told that our son needed 6 weeks of proton radiation therapy at Mass General in Boston, we were very anxious (not in a good way). 6 weeks was much more than we expected. We were all nervous and fielding through very new territory in the healthcare for our child.

Radiation for 6 weeks, 5 days a week meant living in Boston. Hotels are incredibly expensive in Boston, rentals, tough to navigate. When Anne Brogan of Mass Gen. said: "Wait, I may have an opening for you at a fantastic place that happens to be across the street from the hospital."

We experienced loving people, who are now friends for a lifetime, who are incredibly creative and compassionate. Free massages by Amy on Wed & Thurs gave us much needed relaxation. Our studio was perfect w/a small partitioned area, so our child could have some privacy as well. Fully stocked kitchen, everything anyone would need. Most importantly support & love through a tough time. WE LOVE YOU CHRISTOPHER'S HAVEN and will see you every year at the amazing Cape Cod Bay Challenge!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I stayed at Christopher's Haven while I was receiving Proton Beam Radiation Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) for a brain tumor. The all around feeling of love and support that my entire family and myself received and felt from Christopher's Haven was overwhelming. Christopher's Haven is unique in that it's setting of communal living forms natural bonds of support and encouragement between families going through similar challenges. My overall experience and the connections and friends that my family and I made while staying at Christopher's Haven have been life changing.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Just finished a 6 week stay at Christopher's Haven in Boston, MA. There are 7 apartments and 1 "loft"/ community room. I don't know how we would have made it without this place. The connections you make with the other families staying there and the fun the kids have together is amazing. We also enjoyed the volunteers that came on certain days to offer assistance and fun such as Pet Therapy, Massage Therapy, Cooking meals, etc. was all an added bonus! The apartment feels safe and is literally across the street from MGH. If you find yourself heading to MGH with your family for some unfortunate reason Christopher's Haven is where you need to stay, it makes the long stay much more comfortable and even enjoyable!

Olga H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family stayed at Christopher's Haven the summer of 2012 while my daughter received proton radiation therapy at MGH. Thank God for Christopher's Haven! It was a blessing to be provided with a home - a sanctuary to find peace and support during a time of confusion and fear. The apartments were great - safe, clean, fully furnished. Anything we needed was just a question away. The staff was always helpful. I am so thankful for our friends at CH.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In my position handling the pediatric intake/access for treatment at the proton therapy center in Boston, I deal with incoming families whose children are coming for this type of therapy. These families travel to Boston from all corners of the world driven by the hope for cure. The average length of treatment is 6-8 weeks requiring relocation for this period of time. Christopher’s Haven has become a wonderful resource for these families. Both close to the hospital and affordable, Christophers Haven is a dream come true. Christophers Haven wonderful reputation is known far and wide because of the rave reviews of families who have stayed there and understand first hand the sense of community. The level of compassion and caring is clearly conveyed by the excellent staff, who go above and beyond on a daily basis.

Every time a parent comments “There is no place like Christophers Haven” I am reminded of the movie The Wizard of Oz. Specifically Dorothys famous line “There is no place like home”. Christopher’s Haven is a phenomenal organization and is clearly a home away from home for these families in need.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family stayed at Christopher's Haven almost 4 years ago when my son, Noah, received Proton Beam Radiation Treatments. We traveled from Northwest Indiana really arriving and not knowing how we were going to manage staying in Boston for 8 weeks. Christopher's Haven opened their arms and welcomed us by allowing our family to be the first family in their second apartment. We are so amazed at how far they have come and how many more apartments they have been able to open up to families like us. The entire Christopher's Haven Family is our family and we are forever grateful for them.
When you are going through a traumatic experience such as your child having cancer, the last thing you need to worry about is making arrangements on where your family will live for 2 months during treatment. Christopher's Haven took that stress off of our backs and allowed the four of us to just be a family and enjoy each other as much as possible while we were in Boston.
The Christopher's Haven Angels are truly angels uniquely selected by God and we were so very blessed to be a part of this organization.

Advisor

Rating: 5

I have been involved in many non-profits from creation through the organiztions maturity. The key has always been whether the charity's purpose is truly its driving force. The purpose of this organization is to assist kids with cancer and their families. All, from the founders to volunteers, believe and practice that, it is what they do.

Mark O.

Advisor

Rating: 5

Dan, the founder of Christopher's Haven, has had cancer three times. We supported him through each of his rounds of chemo, stem cell transplants, and subsequent convalesences. He is our son and we could not be more proud of him. We love you Dan!!!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a social worker involved with the children and families coming from near and far for proton therapy, I have witnessed the palpable relief of families when they have found comfort and community at Christopher's Haven.
the initial question, when a family has learned they will be coming to Boston, is invariably where can we stay. This is frequently followed by concern at the cost of remaining in an expensive City for weeks that can extend to a length of 8-9 weeks.
Our Christopher Haven families have been delighted and grateful for their initial welcome to the apartments. This includes a cupboard and refrigerator with basic necessities, like milk and bread. This is enormously meaningful when a family arrives after long travel, tired and with no idea of how to locate anything in this new place. There are toys for the children and a new "greeting" book for the young patient.
The manager is there to welcome the family, to explain basic needs, to introduce them to the community "Loft" where pot luck suppers take place, birthdays are celebrated, books and videos are available to borrow. She also introduces them to the other children and their parents staying there..
Christopher's Haven is now 5+ years old and has made an enormous difference to the young patients, their siblings and their mothers and fathers; sometimes to visiting grandparents as well.
It is, as many parents have said, a blessing place.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became involved with Christopher's Haven over six years ago when there were just two apartments. Now there are seven plus a common apartment for families to congregate. The founder, Board and Executive Director have done a wonderful job growing the charity to effectively meet the needs of the families. So many families have been served from all over the world and now there is even a Family Services Manager on full-time who does a great job addressing the needs of the families on-site.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

One of the very first questions that families ask when they contact our Pediatric Radiation Oncology office is “Where will we stay when we come to Boston for Proton Radiation?" They are so relieved when we tell them about Christopher's Haven. It is overwhelming for families to cope with a newly diagnosed child who has a life threatening illness. Planning to relocate for six weeks to a new city is a daunting task.
Our children come from all around the country to Boston for this treatment and the cost of hotel rooms or renting apartments is beyond the means of many families.

One of my fondest memories of Christopher’s Haven was the opening of the family room where children and parents can gather to watch TV, play games and share laughter and tears with other families traveling the same road. Two children were playing “Proton Center “. They had us lined up in chairs waiting our turn to go in for treatment and one child said so tenderly, “Don’t worry, it’s just a pinch and it will not hurt”

Thank you Christopher’s Haven.

Stephanie Edwards

Amy T.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family used Christopher's Haven in 2008; it was a lifesaver. My 4 year old son was diagnosed with cancer and we were moved from our local hospital to Boston which is two hours from our home. We spent a month living in a hospital room and then were told we needed to start radiation for 6 weeks. We had no idea where or how we would take this on; knowing only that we couldn't drive to Boston everyday for treatment. Christopher's Haven answered this question for us. During a time of so much uncertainity we were able to find a place that we could call home. The apartments had everything we could have ever asked for and more. Being able to have a place across the street from the hospital was a godsend. Our son was extremely sick from both the chemo and radiation that he was receiving and to be able to walk him home in 5 minutes was the best thing in the world. I don't think we would have made it if Christopher's Haven hadn't been there for us! It is truly a wonderful place that gives families a little piece of normalcy during a very difficult time.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've seen first hand how this organization helps families in need of housing when receiving cancer treatment at Mass General Hospital. My cousin Shannon and her family stayed at Christopher's Haven a year ago. After being involved as a volunteer and Shannon's visit, I was invited to sit on the Board. It has been a remarkable experience meeting these families and knowing that the work I do for Christopher's Haven is helping provide comfort and care to the families staying there.