The RAI Amsterdam had been a perfect host but as ISE grew, a bigger venue beckoned. ISE 2021 will take place at the Fira de Barcelona, but we will never forget Amsterdam, our friends there and the opportunities the city provided for us to flourish.
In partnership with our co-owners AVIXA and CEDIA, we are proud to be supporting a new transitional care unit in Amsterdam for chronically ill children and their families. Jeroen Pit Huis is due to open in early 2022, with the aim of making the transition from hospital to home easier, safer and steadier for sick children and parents. Thanks to the generosity of industry contributors, we have bought together the best in technology, design and installation expertise to create and deliver a hi-tech entertainment space, including a sensory room and home cinema, to provide an area of escapism and joy.
Here we talk to the widow of Jeroen Pit, Emilie van Karnebeek, about the project and the person who inspired it. Emilie is fundraiser, project manager and private financier of Jeroen Pit Huis.
You initiated the Jeroen Pit Huis project in honour of your late husband. Please tell us who Jeroen Pit was.
Born in 1968 in Vianen, The Netherlands, Jeroen studied Econometrics and Economics in Amsterdam. His career in corporate finance started at Mées Pierson, which is where we first met. We later had three children together: Isabelle, Olivier and Roemer. In 2004, together with Zoran van Gessel, Jeroen founded the private equity company Bencis Capital Partners.
During the summer of 2006 Jeroen was diagnosed with a rare form of colon cancer, known as GIST. Soon thereafter, metastases developed, and the Dutch medical specialists could not offer him further treatment. Jeroen refused to accept this and decided to put up a fight. The United States offered various possible treatments, so we travelled many times over the next five years to grab every chance at life that we could.
During his illness Jeroen maintained a strong and positive character, and despite his physical condition he managed to live life to its fullest. His attitude was always ‘Whatever you do, do it well” – he took on athletic challenges and in his career he enjoyed more success than ever. We founded the GIST Foundation (Stichting GIST) with the goal of facilitating more research and supporting cancer patients with personalised medical treatment. In 2010, together with friends, we raised €2.5 million for research on GIST. Sadly, Jeroen passed away on 5 February 2012, aged just 43.
You must be very proud of the support you have received so far, and building has not even begun yet! Has the project blueprint evolved since you initiated the plan?
Indeed, we are very proud and feel humbled by the support we have received so far. A couple of years ago we had a dream, creating a temporary house for chronically ill children and their families, and now the dream is becoming reality. With all the support that we receive, also from donators, the ministry of health, caregivers and health insurers, we feel and know the need for Het Jeroen Pit Huis is high. The development of the care concept and the design of the house has been a long intense process of nearly three years, in which time we have involved experienced care takers, parents, advisors and two professional architects. During this process we have been embraced by a number of companies that are willing to help us (like ISE and its industry contributors), partially pro bono, to create, engineer and build the house. This has resulted in a design that will include all the facilities that are needed to make sure that the level of care and ‘homeliness’ are guaranteed.
We are honoured to be providing AV support to bring the entertainment space to life. How valuable will this area be for the chronically ill children and their families who will be using it?
We are very thankful for the tremendous help ISE and its customers have and are going to give Het Jeroen Pit Huis, all for the benefit of those who really need it, the chronically ill children and their families. Their lives are severely disrupted with hospital stays that sometimes last months or even years. Once they are ready to go home, they often cannot make the transition as the parents are not ready to take on the intensive care of their child and all the necessary facilities are not properly organised at home. Het Jeroen Pit Huis, as a transitional care unit, wants to provide a cosy temporary home for the family to ease them into the next phase. The AV facilities will provide stimulation of the senses of the ill child while also enabling parents and siblings to unwind and relax in tough times.
What is your long-term vision for Jeroen Pit Huis?
Our first and most important task momentarily is to make sure that Het Jeroen Pit Huis will be built and then be fully operational to welcome the chronically ill children and their families in the first quarter of 2022. Het Jeroen Pit Huis is a new care initiative, where we cannot rely on experience from others. So, we need to engineer everything, in a literal and figurative sense, by ourselves. Once we are “up and running” and procedures become ‘routine’, we can start evaluating. We will do this continuously, supported by scientific research, which has already begun. In due course, Het Jeroen Pit Huis will function as a centre of knowledge and expertise. It is our ambition to help unroll this concept nationally and to be able to offer this new care concept to all those who need it.
The AV industry has a strong affiliation with Amsterdam after many years of ISE at the RAI. If people would like to donate or support in some way, how can they do this?
We have experienced the ISE fair ourselves last year and were impressed by the size of it, but also the innovation it showed. It has been a wonderful ‘marriage’ for ISE, the RAI and the city of Amsterdam. If people or companies want to reach out to us and support Het Jeroen Pit Huis, on top of the gift of ISE, the best thing is to get in touch with Nicole Weglau via mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone (+31 6 2293 5259). We are about to start the actual building process, so you can imagine that we need literally everything – from cement to TV’s to teaspoons. In addition, once we are operational, we hope that many volunteers will assist us in the daily work that needs to be done in the house, such as cooking, gardening and supporting the caregivers.
The Jeroen Pit Huis team would like to thank ISE and their customers for their tremendous support. We hope that Barcelona will be good for you too. We wish you lots of success in these challenging times!