It’s something you don’t think about until you need it, and then you need to find it fast.
When a loved one needs to travel to Fort Wayne for medical treatment, where are you going to
stay? How are you going to be at their bedside at a moment’s notice and still live your daily life?
Thanks to an organization called Paul’s Place, those questions are getting easier to answer for patients and family members traveling to Fort Wayne for medical treatment. Amy Torrez-Alfaro
Back in December 2016, Amy Torrez-Alfaro started a non-profit organization called Paul’s Place: Support for Families.
Paul’s Place functions by devoting temporary living spaces to adult patients who are traveling to receive medical treatment in Fort Wayne.
Currently, the organization offers a few one-story apartments where families stay an average of two to three nights a week, for one to two weeks. The idea came from a life-changing experience for Torrez-Alfaro herself.
Born and raised in Fort Wayne, she left in 1992 to attend college in Austin, Texas. Then in 1999, her father, Paul Torrez, underwent treatment for Burkitt’s lymphoma in Houston, Texas.
During his treatment a generous organization supported her with temporary housing, allowing her to take care of her father when he needed it.
Although her father beat the cancer, the treatment proved too much for his transplanted heart, and he passed away in March 2000.
Despite this loss, Torrez-Alfaro returned to Fort Wayne with a desire to help families facing similar situations. She formed a non-profit organization through her background in hospitality and insurance, as well as her degree in marketing.
Today, she still functions as the executive director, CEO and president, and she credits “God moments” and hard work for the organization’s steady growth over the last two years. Another factor is the organization's willingness to care for people above all else.
Torrez-Alfaro remembers a family she was able to help this past January: two daughters and their 82-year-old mother.
When inclement weather kept the mother from driving home from treatment, Paul’s Place housed them for five weeks.
Although the mother passed away, the daughters were able to live with their mother in her last weeks at one of the apartments provided by Paul’s Place.
“This family remains close to my heart, and we are still in touch," Torrez-Alfaro says. "I was extremely happy to give them a safe option for their mother to continue with her treatment, even in inclement weather. That was absolutely one of the reasons why I wanted to start Paul's Place.”
Paul's Place offers a stocked pantry for families to cook their own meals and even offers the help of an integrative nutritionist.
Torrez-Alfaro also says that Fort Wayne has also shown Paul’s Place kind-hearted generosity and a willingness to help her organization grow.
Before she started her nonprofit, she wanted to move back to Texas, but the spirit of the city and the steadfast growth of her organization here proved too good to leave behind.
Now her biggest obstacle is time.
Along with managing her organization and motherhood, she also works a full-time job. Her two daughters volunteer their time to the organization by knitting infinity scarfs to be sold on the Paul’s Place website.
Apart from her obstacles, Torrez-Alfaro says that she feels most rewarded by the families she meets and by those who stay in touch with her.
“The families who stay with Paul’s Place end up leaving tearful and grateful,” Torrez-Alfaro says.
The first family to stay at Paul's Place, Vi and James Korzknsky from Kalamazoo, Michigan.
In some cases, they contribute items for the next family to use, creating a contagious pay-it-forward chain of kindness.
Recently, in March, Paul’s Place hosted an annual corn-hole tournament. Teams registered for a spot in the tournament, and spectators registered to watch the games.
Mid-September will feature the organization’s fundraiser at Sweetwater—a gala-style event, which is themed Grammy Night with Paul’s Place.
Torrez-Alfaro says these two events are a great way for the community to get involved with and learn more about Paul’s Place and enjoy time with their families and friends.
Looking forward, her next goals for the organization involve acquiring varied living spaces for future families and growing the organization’s assets.
The current apartment buildings are about five minutes from I-69, which makes travel easy on the families.
New living space ideas include purchasing a house, which will serve as a communal environment for families, Torrez-Alfaro says, and serve as a more solid foothold for Paul’s Place in Fort Wayne. She hopes it will be a space that can mold to the needs of new families and offer them a secure environment.
The organization will also provide smaller, individualized apartments, as they have from the beginning, which offer a more private living experience.
Through these two living arrangements, Paul’s Place can, in time, continue to comfort and support people in times of need, so they can focus their energy where it matters—on the people they love.
If you would like to learn more about Paul's Place: Support for Families and how you can help, visit their website at www.paulsplace.org or call 260-444-8576.