Heart of the Matter: Elijah’s Heart House

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Supporting Families and Ill Children in Need

By Olive Gallagher, Contributing Writer | Photos courtesy of Elijah’s Heart House

The remarkable nonprofit, Elijah’s Heart House, was founded by Kimmee Auxier and her husband, Jeff, after the tragic loss of their youngest son, Elijah, to restrictive cardiomyopathy on Sept. 3, 2017 at age 16. The family will be forever imprinted by the six-week ordeal that began with rushing Elijah to Seattle for urgent help by Life Flight with no idea where they could stay to be near their son in the hospital.

Left with a hole in their hearts, Kimmee and Jeff and their three other children chose to use Elijah’s death and their own experience of being dislocated away from home as an impetus to funnel their indescribable grief into the creation of something positive to help others. Their inspiration, fashioned on the Ronald McDonald model of support, was to create a nonprofit that would provide a “safe harbor” for families needing to be near a hospital or medical center where their gravely ill child was receiving treatment.

To begin, Kimmee and Jeff set aside one of their private homes and turned it into the refuge that is known today as Elijah’s Heart House (EHH). Their mission was simple and generous: the families that would be chosen to stay would not be limited to those with children just dealing with heart issues, but rather would include parents of children with other serious diagnoses such as cancer. Families are invited to stay at no cost for as little as a weekend or as long as a month, whatever the need, including just needing to “take a break” for a few days from their current ordeal.

In addition, the chosen families receive three specific gifts: a bag of swag when they arrive that might include gift cards worth as much as $1,500; if the family needs to travel to a more distant location for medical treatment, the bill for their stay at a B&B or hotel is covered by EHH; and finally, participants are welcome to come to EHH and stay for a quiet, private respite, somewhat like a mini-vacation.

All decisions at EHH are made by the Auxier family board with every choice discussed by all before a decision is made. They’re very proud that they’ve never had to turn anyone away. Their ultimate goal is to establish EHH all over the country, an appeal directed, as Kimmee succinctly put it, “to anyone who owns a property and has a beating heart.”

The organization has one annual fundraising event, so mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. This specific date is deliberate because the event is always held on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day. An open house, the event will take place at EHH & Barn located at 15668 N.E. Eilers Road, Aurora, 3 to 7 p.m. Attendance is $25, children are welcome and the attire is casual. There will be a silent auction, a tour of the house, great music, including a performance by Olivia Harms, and a no-host bar along with complimentary spreads of yummy foods. EHH swag will be available for purchase, miniature donkeys serving water will be there, along with ducks, pigs and goats that can be fed. There also will be a s’mores bar, tea bar, hot chocolate bar and coffee bar, with vendors like Half Pint Bros., Shaker & Salt, Tamale Boy, Good News BBQ, Sprig & Spread, Gather + Give and Archer Vineyards.

As of December 2023, EHH has raised $125,000. Along with some sizable donations, much of that impressive total has come from small donors giving as little as $1. In fact, the next time you treat yourself to a delicious meal at Oswego Grill, remember to order the creme brulée. The restaurant donates $1 to EEHH for every creme brulée ordered!

For more information, visit elijahshearthouse.org, contact info@elijahshearthouse.org or call (503) 704-0741.