No doctors, no nurses, no needles, and no machines tethered to the arm.
At Justin’s Beach House, which will be supported in perpetuity by the new Justin’s Beach House Fund at the DCF, families can leave behind the frustration of cancer treatment while they enjoy the comfort of this beautiful home in Bethany Beach.
Just a half-mile from the waterfront, the five-bedroom house was built with donations and volunteer labor in memory of Justin Jennings, a Pennsylvania State University student who died in 2000 from glioblastoma, the form of brain cancer that also killed Beau Biden and is now affecting Sen. John McCain.
Families with a loved one who is in cancer treatment, or less than a year out of treatment, may stay at the house for a full week. Donations ensure that no one ever has to pay for their stay.
The house is equipped with everything a vacationing family might want, including a sun deck on every floor and a flat-screen TV in every room. A trolley goes right past the front door, providing easy access to the beautiful sites of Bethany Beach.
Since it opened seven years ago, more than 150 families have stayed at Justin’s Beach House, which has become a cherished part of the community. Local businesses, schools and private donors continue to raise money to maintain the house. Grocers and restaurants provide gift certificates for guests.
In June of this year, the Justin’s Beach House Board established a new endowment fund at the DCF, which will ensure money is available to care for the property in perpetuity. The fund was established with money raised over several years, and additional donations are needed to reach the endowment goal.
While growing up in Delaware, Justin loved visiting the family’s beach house in Bethany. And when he was recuperating from chemotherapy, the beach was his favorite place to be.
“When we drove over the bridge, Justin would put his hands up and say, ‘we’re almost there!’” said his mother, Mary Ellen Nantais.
When Justin died on June 25, 2000, his family started a charitable foundation that quickly filled with gifts from friends and fundraising events. The family decided to build a beach house to honor Justin’s memory and provide some pleasure for families suffering similar trials.
On Sept. 29, 2009, which would have been Justin’s 29th birthday, ground was broken at the site. Exactly one year later, the doors opened, and the first guests arrived in time to enjoy the Christmas holidays at the beach.
Eligible families from anywhere in the United States are invited to apply for a week at Justin’s Beach House. The house is open all year long and applications are now being accepted for 2018. To apply or for more about Justin, visit justinjennings.org. To support Justin’s Beach House Fund, visit delcf.org/Justin.