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House at Deep Creek Lake opening

www.wvnews.com – Garrett County, MD | June 21, 2019
Originally published on www.wvnews.com

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(Pictured above) – Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation supporter Rod Morton, COO Maryanne Davis and Founder/President/CEO Brian Morrison unveiled the sign for the House at Deep Creek Lake during the grand opening for the new respite facility. Staff photo by Renee Shreve.

McHENRY — The Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation now has a second home in Garrett County to help bring smiles to the faces of critically ill children and their families.

A grand opening was held last week to celebrate the recent completion of the House at Deep Creek. The three-story, log-and-stone facility is located next door to BIT’s first Garrett County home, the House at Wisp Mountain. Both homes are perched on Marsh Mountain and offer scenic views of Deep Creek Lake, fresh air, recreation and peace.

Local dignitaries, supporters and volunteers attended the celebration, as did Brian Morrison, BIT’s founder/president/CEO.

“It’s exciting,” the Catonsville native said about the new house. “It’s going to be a very interesting facility.”

He noted the Wisp House has been very popular with families, in part, because it’s located in a four-seasons area and offers activities throughout the year.

The House at Deep Creek was built to meet the foundation’s growing requests for services. The new home is geared primarily toward BIT’s military initiative, which serves pediatric cancer patients whose parents are active military personnel.

“That’s one priority,” Morrison said about the Deep Creek house. “The other is that it’s for end-of-life issues. We built this one a little larger than most of our facilities so that extended families — grandparents, aunts and uncles — can come and stay.”

The goal of BIT’s respite programs is to “bring comfort, hope and joy to children and their families, enabling them to renew their spirits mentally and physically.”

The nonprofit is based in Baltimore but assists children receiving health care at hospitals and treatment centers throughout the world.

“It’s based on their diagnosis, their treatment plan and then recommendation from their social workers,” said Katie Larkin, BIT’s director of respite housing, about the application process.

The children are eligible for respite services both during and after their treatments.

“Our hope is that they’ll get away a couple of times during their treatments just to rest, relax, regroup and get ready for the next round of treatments,” Larkin said.

After all the treatments are finished, the children and their families can come back to the respite houses, up to a year later, and celebrate their recoveries.

Morrison was inspired to start the foundation in 1982 when he began volunteering at the University of Maryland Hospital’s Shock Trauma Center.

“Back then, the Pediatric Cancer Clinic adjoined the Shock Trauma Center, and I fell in love with volunteering,” he said. “I just love the ability to kind of make a difference and to bring friends together to help.”

Prior to 1982, Morrison indicated, his main focus was his administrative job with the University of Maryland. That quickly changed after he began volunteering.

“One of the first things I did was very simple, but I saw that it made a big difference in a child’s life,” he said.

After that inspirational moment, he couldn’t wait to get off work so he could head over to the hospital and volunteer. Since 1986, the foundation has provided more than 900,000 overnight stays for families from all 50 states and 82 countries.

“It’s been a very joyful experience,” Morrison said.

In addition to the two respite houses in Garrett County, BIT has four other sites homes: The House on the Sea and the House on the Bay in Ocean City, the House on Fenwick Island in Delaware and the House at Pinnacle Falls in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

BIT also has two houses in Baltimore to provide overnight accommodations for those receiving treatments at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Construction of the homes and operation of the programs are made possible by businesses, volunteers and other supporters who donate their time, talents and/or funds.

Volunteers prepare the homes for the families and set out welcome baskets with goodies, treats and vouchers from local restaurants, amusement venues and other companies.

“There’s a whole host of local businesses that allow our families to have either donated or discounted services,” Larkin said.

About 50 businesses and donors helped make the Deep Creek house a reality. Morrison recognized a few of them during the grand opening, including the estate of Edward Harshman, Dakes Company, Mountaintop Paving, O.C. Cluss Lumber Co., Roger Sines Construction, Mr. and Mrs. Rod Morton, Mr. and Mrs. Perry Shipp and volunteer Debbie Workman.

The respite houses are equipped with games, pool tables, large TVs and other amenities.

Families began enjoying the House at Deep Creek in February. In the guest book, 8-year-old Nate wrote, “My family did a lot this week. We went to Muddy Creek Falls and Tolliver Falls. At home, we played pool and played Xbox One. We also played lots of games like Guess Who and air hockey.”

He accompanied his notation with a drawing of himself at Muddy Creek Falls.

The Graziano family wrote, “We stayed for four days. During that time we went horseback riding, gem mining, rode the mountain coaster, visited Swallow Falls, went to the arcade, rode the go-cars and carousel and had many ice cream cones. It did rain a bit so we were grateful for the games, toys and books provided.We can’t thank you enough for this opportunity to stay in this beautiful home. The Believe In Tomorrow staff were so kind and helpful. We enjoyed every minute of this getaway!”

For more information, visit believeintomorrow.org.

Staff Writer Renée Shreve can be reached at 301-501-8394 or by email at rshreve@therepublicannews.com.