Vicki Birkeland

Vicki Birkeland, Director of Women's Services at St. Vincent Healthcare, talks about birthing room upgrades through the Women's Campaign, which were funded in part by the 2018 SAINTS Benefit.

When Scott Redmond was diagnosed with prostate cancer in April, he started looking into his options were treatment.

Redmond, a Belgrade resident, was interested in a treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia, but he realized it would be costly to find a temporary place to live. His doctor recommended St. Vincent’s Frontier Cancer Center in Billings and decided he’d look into it.

He reserved a spot for the Meadowlark House, a pair of duplexes that offer free lodging for cancer patients in Billings. Driving back and forth from Belgrade wasn’t an option, Redmond said.

A few weeks later, he received a call that everything was arranged for his stay at one of the duplexes. He lived there from mid-July to early September.

After his radiation treatments, Redmond is expecting to be in remission.

“Basically, for me, it was better than home,” Redmond said. “It’s a really nice two-bedroom condo, it’s completely furnished, has everything a person needs to stay there, and the only thing a person needs to bring is their personal items.”

Redmond is one of the 630 patients who have used the Meadowlark House, and St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation plans to invest all the funds raised during the 41st annual SAINTS Benefit into a $1 million endowment. The earnings from the endowment will cover operating costs for the Meadowlark House.

The goal is to raise $1 million this year.

“We want to make sure that the Meadowlark House lives on forever,” said Heather Bergeson, director of events for the foundation.

The foundation offers four two-bedroom units that are fully furnished with a washer and dryer and pays for everything that patients might need during their stay. The foundation covers utilities, cable, internet, and even laundry and dish detergent. Crews visit every week to clean the units.

Bergeson said most patients aren’t able to afford a stay in a hotel for an extended period of time, with some saying that they’d forgo treatment if they weren’t able to find an affordable space.

While there is a wait list for the spaces, the foundation plans to keep them available to anyone who needs them.

“They don’t have to pay for anything, and it’s pretty powerful and quite incredible when we check many of our patients in, they are just brought to tears,” she said. “I think when they hear free lodging, they don’t have very high expectations, and when they step into the Meadowlark House, they are just overwhelmed with gratitude that they’re given such a beautiful space for them to heal and to recover.”

The event’s theme this year is “House of Color,” and foundation members encourage participants to pair their attire with the distinctive ribbon color that symbolizes the type of cancer they’ve battled or the cancer of a loved one.

The benefit starts at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Billings Red Lion Convention Center and will include dinner, a variety of auctions, and a performance by LIVE 61. 

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