LIVE TO GIVE LA
Two years ago, Paul Finegold’s wife, Gitu Bhavnani, passed away from TEMPI Syndrome, a rare blood-related disorder. At the time of her death, there were only seven reported cases of TEMPI in the medical literature. Gitu, an occupational therapist dedicated to patients recovering from head injuries and strokes, had lived with the symptoms of her undiagnosed disease for more than three decades. After years of searching for answers, Gitu’s primary care physician Dr. Casey O’Connell, who specializes in hematology and oncology, together with hematologist and oncologist Dr. David Sykes from Mass General Hospital, used Gitu and two other patients to discover a new disease which they called TEMPI syndrome. Gitu’s last wish was that rare blood-related disorder research programs would get the funding needed to become centers of excellence. Funding for research centers investigating diseases like hers could help lessen the suffering of others with these often deadly and baffling illnesses. At the time of Gitu’s passing, she and Paul had been married for 27 years.
In the weeks after Gitu’s death, Paul was unsure what the Manola Court property meant to him after her passing: they had bought the property together imagining that it would be their biggest restoration challenge and a home that they would share for years. Paul began to re-evaluate his goals for the property, wondering if there was a way to turn his grief into a renewed sense of purpose, a purpose that would provide inspiration to honor Gitu’s last wish.
In the months to come, Paul used his background as a CPA and property owner to devise a way to use the property to raise money for rare blood-related disorder research. He believed that many architecture and design enthusiasts, especially fans of Schindler, would relish the opportunity to actually live in one of Schindler’s creations. Paul decided to take the Maid’s Room, one of Manola Court’s restored and furnished one-bedroom apartments, off of the rental market, instead offering the space for short-term stays. This idea led to the creation of the 501(c)(3) non-profit, Live to Give Ltg., Inc. and the Live to Give LA project. Guests of Live to Give LA enjoy the apartment on a by-donation basis with one hundred percent of the nightly rate going to rare-blood related disorder research programs.
In pioneering the "stay by donation" model, Paul is able to use the property in a way that Sachs and Schindler would be proud of—gathering community and guests from near and far who are inspired by architecture and design, while remembering and honoring his late wife. Guests donate to a worthy cause, avoid paying a hotel occupancy tax and parking fees, all while experiencing a culturally significant site. Furthermore, guests are able to find lodging in Silver Lake, a destination for many creative types which suffers from a paucity of elegant hotel accommodations.
The concept of Live to Give LA is one that Gitu would have stood for. Her commitment to helping the community around her, especially if she could offer some joy and meaning to their lives, was what fulfilled her. Her last wish, that Paul should raise money for rare blood-related disorder research, is a testament to the love humans can have for one another and the ingenious ideas that can come from pain.