Community Gem: Chris Stanley shines as Fisher-Nightingale House leader

When it comes to supporting military families, Chris Stanley, executive director of the Fisher-Nightingale Houses, has a growing fan club.

Stanley leads Fisher-Nightingale Houses, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports the houses at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and on the Dayton Veteran Affairs Medical Center Campus — a trio of homes in all, with more than 30 bedrooms in the three buildings.

“I have had the privilege of working as a volunteer under Chris for various fundraising events for the Fisher houses at (Wright-Patterson) and the new house at the Dayton VA Medical Center,” said Marge Perenic, who has worked with Stanley and nominated him as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem. “He is a tireless advocate for this cause especially considering there is more than one fundraising event each year.”

Even though the houses are located on military or VA installations, they have no corporate or government underwriting and must rely on private donations for some of their operating expenses, Stanley said.

The homes shelter and support patients and their families as the patients are treated at the Wright-Patterson Medical Center and the Dayton VA Medical Center.

The support comes when families are often at in the midst of their most trying hours. In 2020, more than 525 families were helped, according to the organization. The average length of stay was some 11 days, though some have stayed a few months to a year.

That support is extensive. The Dayton VA campus finds itself in a “food desert,” Stanley said, so the organization ships food to that home and provides for transportation when it is needed.

Despite the displacement caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one key fundraiser in August netted $135,000, Stanley said.

Stanley has been executive director of the Fisher organization for 20 years. He even took about a $60,000-a-year pay cut when he left a government contracting job to focus on this job.

But he doesn’t mind one bit.

“This is my passion; it’s not a job,” he said.

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