Frequently Asked Questions
Who qualifies for a respite from A Week Away?
Once an application and other required documents (outlined on our online application) are received, our Board of Directors will review it and conduct a vote. The only requirements for A Week Away are that the patient must be diagnosed by a medical doctor with a life-threatening illness, and the patient must be actively treating their condition. A Week Away defines a life-threatening illness as an illness that puts the patient's life in jeopardy despite an active treatment plan OR the condition is life threatening because without immediate treatment for the condition, death is imminent.
Applications will also be considered if treatments have recently concluded. A Week Away is designed to give a break to those undergoing treatment for their condition, so that they may find the peace and hope they need to continue their fight. If a patient has opted out of treatment and has instead been referred to hospice care, we will refer the individual to another organization that is better suited to their situation.
All applications are subject to review by the Board of Directors, and the approval and then any trip is at the Board's sole discretion.
What are the age requirements?
There are no age requirements.
Who is able to attend the respite?
Anyone who is actively involved in the care of the patient is eligible; we call this their “immediate care team.”
A Week Away defines “immediate care team” as family members and/or friends who have played an integral role in the patient's care since the time of their diagnosis. We understand that it takes an entire team to combat illness, and the toll this takes on everyone involved. We will make reasonable efforts to ensure that we provide a break to everyone who needs it.
What if I have received benefits from another organization?
That’s OK! Many great organizations are out there doing various wonderful things. We only ask who you’ve worked with in the past so that we can broaden our resource base in the event that we must refer an applicant to a different organization.
Am I eligible for more than one respite?
Yes. Once you are selected to receive a week away, you become part of our family.
Once your trip is over, we do our best to stay in contact with you to see you through your treatments. If you get to a point that you need another break, you’re absolutely welcome to apply for another respite.
Can I refer somebody else? Can I apply for a friend or family member? Can I surprise someone?
At this time, A Week Away is only accepting referrals from the patient, a parent/legal guardian, a physician/medical staff employee (from which the patient is treating such as a nurse, social worker, etc.).
How long does the application process take?
Once we receive a completed application, an AWA representative will reach out to the applicant to request additional information (copies of insurance cards, valid identifications and a letter from the patient’s treating physician). Once all of the information is received, an answer will be given within 7-10 days. (But it’s usually much faster than that!)
Can I apply without a physician’s note?
An application is not considered to be complete until we have all of the information that is requested. Only completed applications will go before our Board of Directors for approval. If you have any questions surrounding this stipulation, please contact us.
Who will see my application? What steps do you take to keep my personal information private?
A Week Away goes to great lengths to ensure your privacy, using encryption and two-step privacy precautions wherever possible. Our internal information is hosted on Google Apps, one of the most secure service providers available. The only people who will see your information are our Board of Directors and members of our Respite Planning Committee.
Where are the respites held? Where can I go?
When applying for a respite for yourself , you are asked to select a Destination Site: Beach, Rustic/Outdoor, Urban, or Our Home Town (Lancaster, PA). As part of our growth process, we plan to establish many destination sites throughout the country. As of now, we offer our beach respites in Ocean City, NJ, Ocean City, MD, Bethany Beach, DE and Outer Banks, NC. Our Rustic/Outdoor destinations are in either the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon area, or the Poconos, PA. Our Urban destinations include Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA and Baltimore, MD. We will make every reasonable effort to make your trip personal to your desires. However, In order to keep costs down so that we can help as many families as possible, and to keep the patient near their medical team, all respites are planned to take place within 500 miles of the family’s home/hospital. Any trips that will exceed 150 miles from the family's home/hospital will require additional documentation from the patient's physician explaining that the patient is safe to travel that far. We do not plan any respites that require airplane travel. This is one way in which we differ from “wish” programs.
How long can a respite be?
Most trips last a week. However, we understand that treatment schedules can sometimes limit travel and scheduling options. Long weekends, or even day trips, are an option too!
Can I reschedule my respite?
Many hours of volunteer work and coordinating go into planning each respite. As such, we ask that you be respectful of the time and work that goes into each trip. That being said, we understand that sometimes the unforeseen happens. When battling a life-threatening illness, life can be hectic and unpredictable. We will work with you and your team to make any needed adjustments.
Can I bring my pet?
Yes, we can make accommodations for pets if requested. Please note that requesting a pet will likely limit our options for lodging and could cause the desired dates to be adjusted, or the location to be adjusted in order to make the proper arrangements.
Can I help plan my friend/family member’s respite?
We have a dedicated team that specializes in planning our respites. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t want your input. If there’s anything within reason that will make your respite extra special, please let your contact on our Respite Committee know and we’ll see what we can do!
What’s the catch?
There is no catch. A Week Away was founded on the idea that when you get away, you get to feel normal. Our founder, Caleb Walker, knew this all too well. He created AWA in an effort to provide a feeling of normalcy and hope to others who are going through what he did. To learn more about Caleb’s story, go here.
How should I expect to feel after my week away?
When you get back from your respite you should feel rested and rejuvenated! It is our hope that a week away will provide you with the hope, strength, and support you need to continue your fight.
How much does my respite cost me?
The simple answer: zero dollars.
If you are approved, A Week Away will cover all expenses related to the trip including lodging, transportation, incidentals and even opportunity costs. Our goal is make the experience completely stress-free for patients and their care teams. Our team of volunteers takes care of all respite arrangements and is able to pay most costs ahead of time. Respite-goers are also provided with prepaid Visa cards to use for all expenses (and fun!) along the way.
What are “opportunity costs?”
A Week Away defines opportunity costs as any wages that would be forfeited as a result of going on a respite.
We understand that treatment for illness can often lead to financial hardship. In order to make respites as stress-free as possible, we may be able to cover a portion or all of the lost wages that a respite may cause for each individual.
Please note that in order for A Week Away to cover lost wages, all PTO and/or vacation time must be exhausted. Proof of time off from all employers will be required.
Why are you asking for my financial records?
If you choose to apply for opportunity costs, we will need you to provide copies of your last two pay stubs and the most recent W-2 of any working, non-dependent family member. We will also request your financial statements for the past three months.
We take these steps to ensure that the money we receive from our donors is being used appropriately. With these records we are are able to prove income, employment and financial hardship. Please note that A Week Away supplies this funding by determining the appropriate amount and then providing payment to accounts with relevant third parties, such as a car payments, rent payments, utility bills, etc.
A Week Away Foundation
What makes A Week Away different from other, similar organizations?
A Week Away is designed to offer a respite to anyone, regardless of age, who is battling a life-threatening illness. This is a break; a chance to get away and feel normal -- not an item to check off your bucket list. It is a time to rest and recuperate however you deem necessary. We partner with each family to see them through their treatments -- we are here for you, long after your respite.
How can I support / get involved with A Week Away?
A Week Away does not currently receive any government grants or funds. We rely 100% on private donations.
That being said, there’s a little “donate” button in the upper right hand corner of this website -- we are hoping visitors know what to do with that! You can also check out the events section to see what we’re up to next. Come out and support us at our next event!
Want to get involved? A Week Away is run entirely by volunteers, so we’re always looking to add to our team. Go here to fill out our volunteer form.
Still have questions? Feel free to shoot us a message and we’ll be happy to answer anything else that you may want to know.