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Memphis Daily News
It’s a Great Day Here at FedEx Family House
July 6, 2015
By Dr. Mary C. McDonald

Memphis, an Egyptian word meaning a place of good abode; Memphis, a city in Tennessee that lives out the meaning of its name.
What makes Memphis such a good place to live, or to stay for a while, is the multitude of Good Samaritans who are neighbors to those in need. It doesn’t matter if those experiencing a crisis live here, or are just staying during a critical time in their lives: There are a multitude of Memphians who will provide that place of good abode for as long as it’s needed.

One such place is the FedEx Family House at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

The inspiration for the FedEx Family House came from a childhood experience of Susan Graf, its founder. When Susan was 9 years old her mother moved to Philadelphia with Susan’s special needs brother so that he could receive medical treatment. Susan and the rest of her family stayed in Boston.
“It was such a stressful time for my mother,” Susan recalled, “caring for a child undergoing neurosurgery, and also worrying about her children at home.”
That crisis in her own family was the seed of the dream of creating a home for out-of-town families with children receiving treatment at Le Bonheur. She knew that families needed to be together, especially at a time of crisis.

So Susan, along with the strong support of her husband Alan and her caring and compassionate friends Fred and Diane Smith, worked to bring the dream to life.

In the five years since the FedEx Family House at Le Bonheur opened its doors, it has been that place of good abode for more than 40,000 families from around the world, and from all walks of life.

It is “home” to families like the Drash family from Atlanta whose son Billy comes for treatment at Le Bonheur’s Neuroscience Institute. It is “home” for the Bakers, who take turns keeping round-the-clock vigils at their son’s incubator in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and caring for their daughter just across the street at the FedEx Family House. Catastrophic illnesses don’t just happen to one member of a family. All family members are affected.
There is no cost to families for the food, lodging and amenities at the FedEx Family House. That lifts a huge financial burden from families whose shoulders are already stooped from the weight of anxiety and concern for their child.

Continuing to meet these needs of families in crisis is made possible through the labors of love of the many volunteers, corporate sponsors, clubs and generous donors, all of whom have that Good Samaritan’s heart.

Receptionist Keva Vunn Sanders answers every phone call with the greeting, “It’s a great day here at the FedEx Family House.” And it is. In spite of the crisis and chaos in the lives of the residents, there is this enclave of warmth, kindness and caring that surrounds the families, and lifts them up with love. It is a respite for caregivers. It is a place of good abode.

Contact Dr. Mary C. McDonald, a national education consultant, at 574-2956 or visit

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