Target House celebrates fifth anniversary

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (ALSAC)
Wednesday, 26 May 2004

Target House, the long-term stay facility for patients of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, celebrated its fifth anniversary on May 22 with a fun-filled afternoon for current and former patients that featured some local dignitaries and Nickelodeon's very own poriferan, SpongeBob SquarePants.

The celebration featured an under-the-sea theme with a treasure hunt for the patients, a dunk tank where children lined up to sink SpongeBob nemesis Plankton, a fishing game and lots of "Crabby Patties," the delicacy the fry cook SpongeBob prepares when he is working at the "Krusty Krab."

"Hooray. Water guns!" some of the children yelled when they saw three Target baskets full of what turned out to be bubble guns being wheeled to the speakers' stage that featured a sand sculpture to the left with the Target House logo carved in it.

Robert Spencer, local district team leader for Target Stores, was first to speak, discussing Target's history with St. Jude. Target joined with St. Jude in 1996, committing to the construction of Target House, a home away from home for families forced to stay in Memphis while their child is being treated at St. Jude. The original house opened in 1999 and was home to 50 families. In 2002, Target Stores opened the second phase of Target House, which could accommodate 44 additional families.

Spencer told the crowd that since the opening of the first house, 420 families from 36 states and 26 countries have called the Target House their home.

Rev. J. Terry Steib, of the Catholic Diocese of Memphis, who donated the land in St. Peters Village that Target House sits on, said that Target House "continues the dream of the first bishop who wanted St. Peters Village to be a home for the young and the elderly."

Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton spoke about the importance of the house celebrating its fifth anniversary. "Why celebrate at five? Because we are seeing things through the eyes of those whom Target House is helping. For them, five is a big number. Five is a lifetime.

"Target Stores has added to the phrase 'Corporate Citizen,'" he said. "This is not a building. This is a neighborhood of caring."

St. Jude patient Hayley Arceneaux represented the children of Target House, sharing with everyone what the facility meant to her and her family while she was being treated.

"Target House was my oasis from St. Jude, from chemo, from the needle, from the doctors, from the smell of the hospital."

Hayley has been able to go back home. But she still comes to St. Jude every three months for checkups. And when she does, she said, she always stops by Target House. "It's like coming back home."

For more information, or to contact St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (ALSAC), see their website at: www.stjude.org

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