Sunshine Factory home offers respite for families seeking hospital care
Executive Director and Founder Lori Williamson outside Sunshine Factory in Kalispell on Thursday, July 7. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
A suite at the Sunshine Factory dedicated to two moms executive director Lori Williamson met in New York City who lost their sons to cancer within two weeks of each other. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
The bathroom in the suite of the Sunshine Factory on Thursday, July 7. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
A stained-glass window in the spa area that was commissioned by an artist in Missoula at the Sunshine Factory on Thursday, July 7. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
The kitchen in the grand room at the Sunshine Factory on Thursday, July 7. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
Downstairs play area with miniature market-style buildings, a camper and a slide that begins in the grand room on the main floor at Sunshine Factory on Thursday, July 7. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
The grand room that features a slide for children, back right, at the Sunshine Factory in Kalispell on Thursday, July 7. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)
| July 10, 2022 12:00 AM
A once vacant lot just 100 steps from Logan Health Children’s Hospital has been transformed into a space for families to detox from the stresses of caring for their children in the acute and subacute programs.
The Sunshine Factory, which looks as though it were designed by a Disney animator, stands in contrast to what families are often dealing with in the hospital setting.
Lori Williamson, founder of the nonprofit 406 for Kids, saw the lot as an opportunity to “leave something for the ages.” She discovered the property because her own mother was receiving care at Logan Health.
“I knew right away that my calling wasn't just my mom who brought me here in the first place, but also to help the children's hospital,” Williamson said.
The home offers respite care for families in a variety of ways. The facility is a three-story home with a full kitchen, living room, bedrooms and a village-themed playroom with a toy camper. Other amenities include a spa, meditation garden, outdoor playground, home-theater, and a soundproof sensory room. Families can take a break from the hospital by reading, taking a nap, getting a pedicure or dropping off the kids.
“Here at the hospital, we have the most amazing doctors and nurses and they do great care with the children that come here. Along with the children come moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, and caretakers and the Sunshine Factory is a space where we can help those people turn crappy into happy even if just for a few moments,” Williamson said.
While the doctors and nurses at Logan Health care for sick and injured children, volunteers at the Sunshine Factory care for their families.
Walking into the bright yellow house families immediately smell a waft of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
“When we bought the land, I wanted the first thing the families would smell as they walked in to be chocolate chip cookies,” said Williamson. “Families will smell that, breathe, and say ‘now I can relax’.”
According to Williamson, many of the builders have said that the Sunshine Factory is the most important project they’ve ever worked on and that it is the best work they have done.
“The builders of this project are amazing,” credited Williamson. At the ribbon cutting ceremony opening the home, Williamson expressed her gratitude to the contractors saying that the Sunshine Factory is “truly a labor of love.”
The goal is for families to be able to make good decisions after spending time at the Sunshine Factory.
“This is a home built by the community to support the beautiful families that come to Logan Health Children's Hospital,” Williamson said.
Williamson received some of her inspiration for the Sunshine Factory through working with an organization called the Candlelighters. Based in New York, the group houses families whose children have cancer. The Sunshine Factory plans to expand care for families and dedicate themselves to helping families in difficult situations.
The Sunshine Factory is located at Glacier View Drive and is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. To find out more about the Sunshine Factory or Williamson’s organization 406 for Kids, visit 406forkids.org. If interested in volunteering, visit 406forkids.org/volunteer.
Business reporter Summer Zalesky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org