Friday, January 7, 2011 2:00 AM

Donors celebrate opening of Terry's House

More than 250 donors celebrated the completion of Terry’s House on Jan. 6, touring what was a labor of love for local building trades people who gave their time and heavily discounted materials.

The 17,000-square-foot, two-story house will lodge families whose loved ones are receiving critical care at the downtown Fresno hospital, which serves burn and trauma patients from a region the size of Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey combined. Terry’s House was built so families can have a meal, shower, sleep – stay strong for their loved one in the hospital. “This was built entirely with private donations,” said Jack Chubb, Community Regional Medical Center’s chief executive officer, “so we’re literally surrounded by generosity and that’s a really wonderful feeling.”


Terry Richards (far left), namesake of Terry's House, stands with his mother Marie Richards, sister Deborah and brother Tom, whose generous gift gave birth to the lodging home for families of critically ill Community Regional patients

Terry’s House features 20 guest rooms with private baths, in-house refrigerators, activity lounge, sitting areas, living room with library, kitchen/dining area, family resource center, reflection room, exercise room, laundry room and a healing garden.

More than 40 years ago, Tom Richards’ older brother Terry was hospitalized after a car accident. Richards remembered the emotional toll it took on his entire family, especially his mother, having his brother being cared for 80 miles away. She drove daily to spend time at her then 5-year-old’s bedside during the five months it took for him to recover. Richards said so many people have experienced something similar that it’s been easy to find support for the project.“What has occurred here is beyond our wildest dreams… and beyond the parameters that were drawn,” said.

Community's Board of Trustees' Chair Susan Abundis accepts a ceremonial key to Terry's House.

Tom Richards, CEO of Penstar Group. He provided the start for the house with a $500,000 donation and asked that it be named in honor of his brother Terry.

“We never planned this,” Richards said looking around the spacious reception area. “All of the subcontractors who came together on this project – and many of them who called the moment Community started this to see how they could be involved – not one of those contractors dropped out during these tough economic times but they’ve contributed more as we went along. They have donated roughly one third of the cost of Terry’s House.”

Richards said the reason Terry’s House looks so luxurious with tile and granite and upscale lighting is that subcontractors arranged for discounts on those building materials. “Because of them, we were able to leverage your contributions,” said Richards.


Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen celebrates the Terry's House opening with Jack Chubb, CEO of Community Regional Medical Center

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearingen called Terry’s House a jewel for the community and a gift that Fresno residents had provided for the rest of the Valley since Community Regional serves burn and trauma patients from a 15,000-square-mile area.

“How do you appropriately say thank you for this?” Susan Abundis, new chair of Community’s Board of Trustees, said as she accepted the ceremonial key to the house.

To learn more about Terry’s House or to make a donation, log on to

Erin Kennedy reported this story. She can be reached at