HOW IT ALL STARTED
A CHANCE CONVERSATION
JoAnne McTague, a 26-year resident of Charlottesville and a graduate of the University of Virginia, will tell you that she never envisioned starting a charitable foundation – it just happened. After working for more than 30 years in Corporate America, a chance conversation started her down the path to establish The Yellow Door Foundation.
JoAnne and her husband Jeff, were rehabbing houses in Charlottesville when, over dinner in February 2017, a friend asked "Have you ever thought about making your houses available for families of pediatric cancer patients who are in town for extended periods of time?"
JoAnne's response, like most people's, was "But we have a Ronald McDonald House in Charlottesville!"
At her friend's urging, JoAnne spent two months researching the need - speaking with Hospital personnel, cancer patients and their families, and countless providers of patient lodging across the country.
JoAnne learned that:
The University of Virginia Children's Hospital has just over 100 pediatric beds
available options in Charlottesville were limited to the Ronald McDonald House with 19 rooms and The Alyssa House, a one-family home.
over 50% of the out-of-town families whose children received treatment at UVA Children's Hospital are unable to afford ANY type of long-term lodging away from home.
families were driving hours back and forth for treatment, and sadly, would at times have no option but to use their car for lodging.
the largest gap was long-term lodging for immunocompromised pediatric patients, for whom communal living is not an ideal option.
Brooke & Maggie
At about the same time, JoAnne was introduced by future Board member Ann Marie Gathright to a little girl named Maggie and her mom Brooke from southwest Virginia. They were heading to Charlottesville for Maggie's extended-stay outpatient treatment at UVA Children's Hospital and had no place to stay. JoAnne and Jeff welcomed them to stay at their home.
They spent a lot of time together, including emergency hospital runs with Maggie. These interactions provided invaluable first-hand insight into the challenges these families face every day.
From this association, The Yellow Door Foundation was born.
The Road to Yellow Door
JoAnne's initial program considered single family detached homes, but the cost to purchase, manage and maintain the number of homes needed to fill the gap was cost prohibitive.
Instead, JoAnne chose an apartment home model, which reduced the budget by 83%, provided additional amenities, and kept all lodging in a single, more manageable location.
After literally visiting every apartment complex within reasonable proximity to the hospital, JoAnne and Board member Kathy Woodson found Stone Creek Village Apartments, whose management and staff were willing to do whatever it took to assist with providing a Safe/Clean environment for our patients and family. Trial runs confirmed it was 11 minutes to the UVA Hospital parking garage!
Why "Yellow Door"
While driving near the hospital one day, JoAnne saw a cute house with a red door, and thought of naming the charity Red Door, until she started looking into the meaning of colors! She chose Yellow Door after learning that yellow stands for " happiness, positivity, clarity, energy, optimism, enlightenment, remembrance, honor, loyalty, and joy." The search for a name was over.
The Yellow Door Foundation was founded in May 2017 and received its 501(c)3 charitable organization designation in November 2017. It opened its first Yellow Door apartment in February 2018. As of September 1, 2020 YDF has 4 apartments, which have delivered over 2,400 nights of totally FREE lodging, ranging from a stay of 2 weeks to 9 months. These kids have endured cancer treatments as well as heart, kidney and liver transplants.
Watch Channel 3 Roanoke's interview with Brooke and Maggie
and Yellow Door Executive Director JoAnne McTague.
Expansion of Pediatric Cancer Program
Immunology leading to research breakthroughs at UVa,
The Daily Progress. Click to read article>>
Pediatrics Professor Aims to Attach Childhood Cancers with Immunotherapy, UVA Today. Click to read article>>
Who Is My Brother’s Keeper?: Supporting Sibling Caregivers in Pediatric Oncology, Molly M. Williams, Vanderbilt University, 2017. Click to read>>
Yellow Door was born to give families a safe, convenient home away from home while they fight serious childhood illness at UVA Children's Hospital.
Help us open doors.
We have opportunities for both individuals and groups to volunteer and make a difference in the lives of families coming to Charlottesville for lifesaving treatment for their children fighting cancer or requiring an organ transplant at UVA Children's Hospital
Contact JoAnne McTague by email or phone at 434-953-9123 or click below for details.