25 years ago, Marianne Giles was awakened by the phone call every parent dreads: “Your daughter’s been injured in a car accident.” At the time, Marianne and her husband, Colin, both from England, were living in Connecticut with their three children and had only been in the United States for two and a half years. Distraught and far away from where the accident occurred, Marianne had to act quickly to get to her daughter and relay the news to Colin, who was on a business trip in England.

When Marianne arrived at a hospital in South Hill, Virginia, she learned that her daughter had suffered a spinal cord injury and was being transferred to VCU Health in Richmond. “I was so upset. I didn’t know where I was or what I was doing,” said Marianne. “The first night in Richmond, I slept in a chair in my daughter’s room. The next day they told me about The Doorways (known then as Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond). The Doorways was a lifesaver.”

The Doorways Guests Marianne and Colin Giles

Colin and Marianne stayed at The Doorways for a week while their daughter recovered from her injury. “It was such a traumatic time,” said Colin. “I still remember driving down to Richmond wondering what we would find.” Thankfully, their daughter, who was 18 at the time of the accident, made a remarkable recovery following weeks of bedrest back at home.

Colin and Marianne later moved from Connecticut to Michigan and then, serendipitously, made their way back to Richmond where they’ve lived for the past eight years, surrounded by their children and four grandchildren. They and their family continue to support The Doorways, both financially and as volunteers.

“The relief we received was very impactful. We were in a strange city. You have to put yourself in that situation. What would you do? We were fortunate to have The Doorways to care for us so that we could focus on the health and wellbeing of our daughter,” said Colin. “The Doorways is very special, and Richmond is lucky to have it,” added Marianne.

The Giles’ never forgot the help, comfort, and generosity that surrounded them at The Doorways. “We were strangers to the area and The Doorways took the worry out of everything. The support system was wonderful,” said Marianne. “Ever since then, it’s always been a priority to give back to The Doorways,” added Colin.

It could happen to anyone a phrase echoed by both Marianne and Colin when asked about their support of The Doorways.