When Paul Isenberg’s late wife, Nicole, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma while pregnant with their second child, she came up with the idea for the Great Guys Dinner, which debuted in 2001. Since then, it has evolved into Bringing Hope Home, a Wayne-based nonprofit that has aided over 3,500 families struggling with cancer diagnoses.
1. Capital Grille.
“It’s my favorite restaurant in both Philadelphia and King of Prussia. I’m not choosy—I eat it all.”
2. Listen Like a Dog by Jeff Lazarus.
“Dogs are full-body listeners.”
From Left: The Capital Grille, Listen Like a Dog, This is Us
3. Rocky Run YMCA.
“Going to the gym and for a run are some of my favorite things.”
4. Not Your Average Joe’s.
“They provide a gluten-free menu on request, and the food is delicious.”
5. This Is Us.
“It’s an unbelievable show about second chances. I was lucky to find love again and get remarried.”
MLT: What is the goal of Bringing Hope Home?
PI: Our goal is to help as many people as we can and we are driven by that goal every day. How do we help as many people as possible that need it so they don’t have to go through what Nicole and I went through when she was sick? If you are diagnosed with cancer in the greater Philadelphia area, even if you have health care coverage, your out-of-pocket cost can be between $10,000 to $25,000. We didn’t have huge bills and we didn’t live outside of our means, but we were still struggling with the cost because we were traveling wherever we needed to for her to get better. Costs were adding up, it was hard and there was a lot of stress. We decided that we were going to start paying bills for families who needed it.
MLT: What is the most rewarding part of your work?
PI: Helping the families. We had a couple families that were on the edge of getting evicted; our team was able to keep them in their homes. When you get calls from families that say “I don’t know where I would be without you,” that’s really rewarding.
MLT: What is the Light of Hope Family Grant Program?
PI: The Light of Hope Family Grant Program is the money we use to pay bills for families with cancer, up to $2000. On the first of every month, social workers from over 65 health care facilities in the greater Philadelphia area nominate families that are going through cancer. We pay bills such as rent, mortgage, utilities, car payments, food, whatever those families need. We get the bills from the families and we write the checks directly towards the bills. We negotiate those bills before we pay them. For every dollar we spent in 2015, we got $1.23 in value.