Peace at Fisher House

Army veteran and mother Lupe stayed at Fisher House at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia with her adult daughter while she waited for and recovered from a heart transplant. They find peace in the comfort of the Fisher House, friendship, and sharing meals with other guests.

Lupe Nimetullahlah served as a supply sergeant in Germany and at Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg), North Carolina. She cared for her fellow soldiers and her two children over the course of her career. When her adult daughter, Lakeisha (Keisha) Samilton suddenly required a heart transplant, she found herself in the caregiver role again.

In 2020, Keisha was diagnosed with sarcoidosis of the heart and the lungs, but it wasn’t until 2023 that she suddenly felt ill and was medically evacuated from the hospital near her home in Hampton, Virginia to Northern Virginia.

Lupe traveled to be with her daughter who was barely functioning on 10% of her heart. Keisha spent the next three weeks on ECMO until she could receive a heart transplant. Following the transplant, she was in a coma for three days. At first, Lupe stayed in hotels, but she soon realized they would need a longer-term solution and sought a small apartment. The costs were incredibly high and nearly impossible to sustain.

“I'm a prayer warrior, so I was praying. I said, ‘Lord, you got to help us.’ We didn't have nowhere to go,” explained Lupe.

Fortunately, Lupe was connected to a social worker who told her about the Fort Belvoir Army Fisher House at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

“She showed me this place here, and I said, wow, I don't believe this. She said, ‘everything's free.’ I said, ‘no, everything's not free. Come on now. Ain't nowhere free, and she said, ‘everything's free.’ She showed me around. It just felt like a burden lifted up off of me. It was amazing. This is amazing place.”

After Keisha was released from the hospital in May, she required many follow-up appointments and at one point was readmitted, so the Fisher House provided again a home away from home for the mother daughter duo/team. Keisha shared how important it has been to have her mom nearby.

“It means everything. I couldn't do any of this. I'm so thankful that she's here,” said Keisha. “Her being here takes a load off of me too. Fisher House means a lot. It allows us to be here and connect and things like that. But her being here is everything.”

Over the course of their stay, they met many guests and even celebrated Keisha’s daughter’s birthday as she turned 14.

“She was here; I set up a little happy birthday. We had a little get together, a small get together right there,” she said pointing at the dining room.

Lupe shared that there are many parts of Fisher House that make a difference, but it is the managers who mean the most.

“I enjoy the managers. They take care of us. You can go to them and talk to them, even if you got any personal issue. They know you got to talk to somebody. You can't hold things in,” she explained. “They make sure we have everything we need.”

Lupe has become friends with many of the guests and continues to stay in contact with several over text. She loves to cook and get to know people in the kitchen.

“When people come in, they are friendly. Somebody always going through something, maybe not similar to hers, but everybody going through something,” she shared. “We are able to be in the kitchen. That's where we meet at when we are cooking and everything – and that is one heck of a kitchen to cook in. It's beautiful too. It's peaceful in itself.”

“It's a home away from home. It's peace. It is amazing,” said Lupe. “Thank God it came through, Fisher House.”