Rickey Beazley’s Story: How Hospital Hospitality House Began
Written by Ann Krenson, HHH Co-Founder and Rickey’s Aunt
The story of Nashville’s Hospital Hospitality House has its beginning on a warm June night in 1972. It was a night much like any other night – until the quiet darkness was shattered by a telephone call, “teenagers returning home from a friend’s birthday celebration, blinding lights, a car out of control, death and destruction.”
A young girl died, others injured. Seventeen year-old Rickey Beazley, son of Mickey and Raymond Beazley, was a survivor.
But six months of hospitalization exposed his family to the harsh reality of the difficulties, loneliness, fear and grieving that were the daily fare of many in similar circumstances who were without the supporting presence of other family members. Too often during the four months Rickey was in the Intensive Care Unit of St. Thomas Hospital, his family witnessed lone family members sleeping in the hospital waiting room, even in their cars, washing their clothes in public restrooms, getting their meals from vending machines, removed from the warmth of human companionship. Stricken by illness or injury, they came from across the state of Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and far beyond our city, even our country.
The plight of these families gradually became the focus of those hours, days and weeks that seemed to pass in slow motion for Mickey and her sister-in-law, Ann Krenson, as they waited and watched in the Intensive Care waiting room In assessing the families’ emotional and physical needs, Mickey and Ann envisioned a place of sanctuary, rest and support that would provide sleeping accommodations, family-style meals, laundry facilities and comfortable and pleasant living areas for social interaction with others near to the major hospitals.
They sought out others who also recognized the need and with the outpouring of encouragement, love and practical support of the Nashville community through business, churches, organizations, clubs, schools, and individuals, and with the participation and support of the major hospitals—St. Thomas, Vanderbilt, Veterans, Baptist, Park View and West Side, the Hospital Hospitality House welcomed its first guest on July 22, 1974, in a rented house on 17th Avenue South. This would be one of the first hospitality houses in the country. Two years later a larger facility was purchased at 214 Reidhurst, near Centennial Park. Shortly adjacent houses were purchased and in 2004 a complete renovation resulted in the present facility.
Over forty years later, HHH Nashville still serves as a model for other houses and still remains true to its mission… to be a “home away from home for patients and caregivers seeking medical treatment in Nashville hospitals by providing lodging, meals and other supportive services.”
HHH of Nashville has come to be known as The House with a Heart. It is the Heart of all those individuals and groups who have in one way or another, in small and grand ways, expressed their care for those who for a time find themselves in a medical crisis.
What had seemed a tragedy for one family on a night in June 1972 became a blessing for extended families throughout the world. Rickey’s story reminds us of the value of one person’s life. HHH of Nashville stands as a reminder that with perseverance and determination, great things are possible and there is always the possibility and the freedom to choose hope over despair.