When Albert C. needs specialized medical care, he hops the Greyhound bus from rural Nathalie, Virginia (pop. 183), to downtown Richmond and stays at The Doorways.
It’s a routine he knows well. Heart issues, kidney dialysis and an ongoing evaluation for a kidney transplant make him a regular patient at VCU Health and a frequent guest of The Doorways.
Even when he has to catch an insomnia-inducing 5:30 a.m. bus to get back to Nathalie in time for choir practice, you’ll hear no complaints from Albert. He feels blessed.
Six years ago he found out about The Doorways from a social worker and was amazed at the home away from home he found: the fully stocked kitchen, the 24-hour laundry facilities, the TV lounge with his favorite movies, and an inviting library with books that beckoned him to cozy up and stay a while.
“They provide you everything here,” says Albert, a former operating room medical attendant who is now unable to work. The Doorways offers unrivaled hospitality while lifting a financial burden, for which he’s grateful. “If it weren’t for The Doorways, I’d really be lost. I’d have nowhere to stay.”
Albert makes the most of his down time at The Doorways. You might find him catching a western on the big TV, or reading a book about World War II or getting on the computer to research all the history that Richmond has to offer. Just as easily you might find him playing bingo with other guests.
Or, you might find Albert, an experienced cook, prepping a meal in The Doorways kitchen — even when other obligations mean he can’t stay for the fruits of his labor. “The last time I was here,” he says, smiling, “I cooked a turkey.” A staff member made sure it got out of the oven in time and on the table for his fellow guests to enjoy.
Albert finds it easy to give back to The Doorways.
“I feel great when I’m here,” he says.
Carla Davis is a writer and editor living in Richmond.
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