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Here's How Nonprofit Molly's House Has Been Supporting Medical Patients And Their Families For 20 Years

As local nonprofit Molly's House steps back to 1950s Cuba for a Havana-themed fundraiser this weekend, the organization will be remembering the past 20 years of its service in our community.

Molly's House, which is based in Stuart, works to provide ultra-affordable, bed-and-breakfast-type accommodations for local medical patients and their families—from oncology patients who need a place to stay after seeking treatment to relatives of patients checked into a Treasure Coast hospital. 

Its sold-out Club Havana event at Sailfish Point on Sept. 17 will be one of the organization's two main fundraisers of the season (the second being an annual polo classic in the spring). The themed evening, chosen because of the opening of American ties with Cuba, will feature Cuban food, cocktails, casino games and dancing.

The charitable home was the dream of a young Stuart native named Molly Sharkey, who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 12.

After traveling the country for treatment—her family oftentimes having no convenient place to stay—she came up with the idea of building a house in her hometown of Stuart for families of patients at Martin Memorial Medical Care. When she passed away at the age of 18, Molly left behind a journal filled with ideas for Molly's House, from its wraparound porch and spiral staircase to the flower beds and countless windows. The entire home was built with the support of the community. 

"The way Molly's dad describes it, pretty much everything was donated for the building other than the land and the concrete," Molly's House CEO Bill West said"It was definitely very much a community-based thing. Even the money for the land came from community donations."

For a suggested donation of $20 per night, the Victorian-style Molly's House offers private guest rooms, fully equipped kitchens, continental breakfast, a laundry facility, library with Wi-Fi, chapel, and Serenity Garden.

"It's an amazing butterfly garden … that's planted for different butterflies. People can go back there and relax," West said. 

Molly's House also provides a Caregiver Respite Program, in which caregivers—say, a wife tending to a husband with Alzheimer's—can apply for a free four-day, three-night stay at Molly's House, during which they'll be pampered with a massage, hair-styling and evenings at local cultural and dining establishments. In return, a professional caregiver is sent to their home to take care of the relative in need. 

"You can watch the stress just melt off them," West said.

The facility formally opened on Sept. 21, 1996, to celebrate what would have been Molly's 23rd birthday. Now 20 years later, the organization is celebrating its own 20-year milestone—an accomplishment West said he believes speaks to Stuart's tradition of taking in others. 

"I think it says a lot about our community," he said. "Think of the House of Refuge over on the beach. It's something that's been in our community over 100 years."

For information on Molly's House, visit the organization's website here

Stuart Magazine is a sponsor of Molly's House Club Havana event. 

Photos courtesy Molly's House