Shirley Castillo

Having a son currently serving as a Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, I have a special place in my heart for the military. In 2003 at the age of 17, my oldest son, Jeff, decided to join the military. On one hand, I was so proud of him for wanting to serve – on the other hand, there was that constant fear of “what if” that no parent ever wants to think about. Fast forward 11 years. After 4 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Jeff was fortunate to come home safe, but many others were not. When I asked him how we could help, he said they had enough supplies over there and he alerted me to the Fisher House Foundation, which is a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while their loved one is receiving treatment.

A Fisher House is “a home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes are normally located within walking distance of the treatment facility or have transportation available. There are 63 Fisher Houses located on 23 military installations and 24 VA medical centers close to the medical center or hospital they serve. Many more houses are under construction or in design.

Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members, as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge. The Foundation also manages a grant program that supports other military charities and scholarship funds for military children, spouses and children of fallen and disabled veterans. You can learn more at

To honor the local military veterans who have served our country, High Swartz will be hand delivering cards and letters written and drawn by children and adults to the Veterans Administration in Spring City, PA. Many of these forgotten servicemen/women do not have family members, and we would like to let them know that they are not forgotten. The words “Thank You For Your Service” do not cost a penny.

Shirley is also involved at Bethany Baptist Church in Fox Chase, Philadelphia where she serves as a Sunday School teacher, hosts small group ministries at her home, teaches during Vacation Bible School, visits church members who are in the hospital and shut in, and speaks at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission in Philadelphia once a month with members from her church. She also hosted a cancer patient who lived in Michigan during her treatment at Fox Chase Cancer Center for over a year while she came to Philadelphia for treatment.

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