Valour Place: 'Hope away from home' for military families

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Valour Place: 'Hope away from home' for military families

Staff and volunteers at Edmonton's Valour Place have reached a milestone.

They've helped more than 600 families, offering over 10,000 nights of free lodging in the last five years.

"Valour Place is known as a hope away from home for military members, RCMP, veterans, first responders and their families staying in Edmonton for medical treatment and rehab," said executive director Lydia Migus. 

The 10,000-square-foot, 12-bedroom home opened at 111th Avenue and 111th Street in October 2012. 

It's the only temporary residence catering solely to military and emergency personnel in Canada, according to Migus.

A group of local volunteers raised $10 million to build the home, which features a large kitchen, gym, games rooms and dining and living areas, a reality.

Guests can stay anywhere from a night to six months. The house has an occupancy rate of more than 85 per cent.

"It's been beyond our wildest expectations," said Migus. "That's an awesome number we never thought we'd reach so quickly."

Their visitors run the gamut.

"We've had families of the fallen stay here, which is great because we have room for the padres to come and meet with the family and it's a quiet area that they can spend time together and mourn. 

"We've also had a lot of young mother's who had high-risk pregnancies from Cold Lake or Yellowknife that can't handle them so they send them down here," said Migus.

Brianne Funke and husband Collin from Calgary stayed at Valour Place with their four-month-old son Jackson while he underwent a liver transplant at the Stollery Children's Hospital.

"First and foremost it was a safe and comfortable place to lay our heads," Funke said.

"It allowed our family to be together and to support one another through what was a little bit of a nightmare for us and Jackson never had to go through anything alone."

Jackson's grandfather, Joe Mitchell, was a member of the RCMP.

Now retired, Mitchell still volunteers Tuesday mornings at Valour Place as a way to pay forward the kindness given his now happy and spirited grandson.

It's the kind of success story Lydia Migus believes might lead to a second Valour Place one day.

You can see more from Valour Place on this week's edition of Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m. and Sunday and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV.