Sarah House, as it was known, was founded in 1994 by Mary Keough. Mary was inspired by her nephew Billy Johnson to open CNY’s only adult Hospital Hospitality House. Billy was 22 when he was diagnosed with leukemia. He and his family traveled to New Hampshire and Minnesota for his bone marrow transplants. It was during these travels that Billy learned of the Hospital Hospitality House concept. People often need to travel away from home for necessary medical care - not everyone can afford to stay in a hotel. He discovered a “home away from home” for families and patients – an affordable and compassionate alternative to a hotel. Billy shared the idea with his aunt Mary and soon an opportunity arose. Father Ahern of Most Holy Rosary asked Mary and her husband Dick if they had a purpose for a vacant caretaker’s house next to the convent, and Sarah House was born. It was a small 4 bedroom house that was located right next door that was torn down in 2010. Sarah House opened its doors in 1994. Billy and Mary’s dream has allowed us to serve more than 1,000 individuals for more than 3,000 nights per year - people from all over the world…providing them with a home like atmosphere while they or their loved one receives medical care.
Sadly, Billy lost his battle with leukemia a year after Sarah House opened. His spirit of generosity, love and kindness remains here at Sarah’s Guest House and his friends and family continue to support our mission.
In 2004, we moved to this convent, allowing us to serve more people with 11 bedrooms, 5 shared bath rooms, 2 common rooms, a library, a kitchen and laundry facilities. In 2010, Mary Keough handed over the reins to current director, Jen Coman. In the past 4 years, we have been fortunate to receive funding to replace all windows, upgrade our computer systems, install a back yard entry and renovate our 1st floor common room and kitchen. With funding from the Allyn Foundation and Sara Recktenwald of Goldman Sachs we are now have a new parking area for guests.
Although housed in a convent, Sarah’s Guest House has no religious affiliations. However, Sarah House was named after Sarah, Abraham’s wife. In the Bible we learn that Sarah was known for her hospitality. The biblical story tells us that she and her husband Abraham built inns for wayfarers to find food, water and a place to rest their heads. They charged no money and all were welcome. In 2014, we changed the name to Sarah’s Guest House, lodging for patients and families, to limit confusion with a similar sounding non-profit and to better clarify our mission of healthcare hospitality.
Sarah’s Guest House is not funded by state or federal monies. We rely on the generosity of our community and the hard work of our staff, board members and volunteers to exist. We ask for only $20 per night from our guests and no one is turned away for inability to pay. We have a wish list of items that we need and we are always looking for individuals and groups alike to make meals, plan an event, do lawn work, housekeeping.