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Home is Where the Hope Is

Shepherd Center housing program accommodates families, offers stability day and night.

Shepherd Center’s Delores Ann and Goodloe Yancey Family Housing Program offers much more than four walls and a floor. Its 120 suites and apartments are a resting space for the body and mind, says housing program manager Victoria Denson. She coordinates the housing units at three locations – for 30 days to the family members of newly injured Shepherd Center rehabilitation patients if both the patient and family live 60 or more miles from the hospital.

“It’s really an extension of Shepherd Center’s mission to care for the patient,” Denson says of the program. “The families we serve are often overwhelmed when we meet them, so if we can help relieve their worry over where to stay while their family member is a patient here, then that’s an important part of providing complete care.”

One of the families who has benefited from Shepherd Center's housing program is the Clark family from eastern North Carolina. Brad and Rachel Clark, along with their seven children ranging in age at the time of their visit from 1 to 19, occupied a suite at the Irene and George Woodruff Family Residence Center during Brad’s rehabilitation following a spinal cord injury he sustained in a cycling accident.

“It was a really hard time, and Shepherd Center made it as easy on us as they could,” Rachel says. “Our apartment was a two-minute walk from Brad’s room in the hospital, and I can’t tell you how comforting it was to be so close.

“Shepherd Center’s housing program also means families don’t have to break the bank on housing,” she adds. “I can’t even imagine trying to locate housing in the midst of everything else we were going through. To have that level of support is simply priceless.”

That is precisely the purpose of Shepherd Center housing, says Shepherd Center President and CEO Gary Ulicny, Ph.D. It removes the financial and logistical burdens of finding accommodations so families can more easily transition from an acute-care setting elsewhere to rehabilitation at Shepherd Center.

“A big part of serving the patient is supporting the patient’s family,” Dr. Ulicny says. “If we can help lift some of the pressure families feel in an already-stressful situation, then we want to do that for their sake and for the sake of our patients. The housing program is one measure of doing exactly that.”

The value of Shepherd Center’s housing program isn’t lost on families who benefit from it, Denson says. “Families come here, they make friendships, they relax and often they want to show their appreciation in some way,” she says. “Sometimes, they fix things or help water the plants. They want to contribute something, no matter how small, as their way of saying ‘thanks.’”

Shepherd Center offers three locations for family housing:

The Irene and George Woodruff Family Residence Center

  • 84 accessible suites located on the Shepherd Center campus. The Irene and George Woodruff Family Residence Center offers fully equipped housing units, whose amenities include free WiFi, a tranquil garden, pool tables, grills, games, toys and DVDs.

Biscayne Apartments

  • 24 studio apartments one-half mile north of Shepherd Center

Shepherd Place

  • 12 accessible apartments one-quarter mile north of Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center’s Delores Ann and Goodloe Yancey Family Housing program is funded entirely through donations. For information on making a gift to support this invaluable program, please visit, or call Dean Melcher at (404) 350-7306.

Written by Shawn Reeves
Photos by Louie Favorite

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.