Area teen’s support of Beacon House inspires, motivates

If you or anyone you know has ever battled a serious illness or debilitating medical condition, then you likely have an understanding of the stress and grief it can cause in a person’s life.

The Beacon House, the Upper Peninsula’s only hospitality house, is intended to help at least a little with getting people through those dark times.

The nonprofit organization provides people traveling to Marquette with a place to stay when getting treatment from UP Health System-Marquette and the Upper Peninsula Medical Center.

The Beacon House has been helping patients since 1990, and in 2002 it began operating from its location along Third Street, near UP Health System-Marquette’s current facility. In the last 16 years, nearly 200,000 patients, family members and caretakers from throughout the region have stayed there.

But with the hospital’s move to a new site off Baraga Avenue, the Beacon House is relocating as well, to a 2-acre parcel near the intersection of Seventh and Spring streets. It’s just a short walk away from the new health care facility, a distance many patients and family members would probably find reassuring.

The new hospitality center will be called the Steve Mariucci Family Beacon House, named after the former Detroit Lions coach and Upper Peninsula native, who, along with his family, has been involved with the Beacon House essentially since the beginning of its operations.

The move to a new location is pricey, and Beacon House leadership has been working diligently to raise the money needed to complete the first phase of the roughly $7 million project. The initial step, though, is expected to cost about $3 million, with around half of it already raised through the Beacon House’s Legacy of Love Capital Campaign.

Though the Beacon House still needs $1.5 million for the first phase of its project, we’re confident the support will be there by the December deadline the group has set in order to move forward with a spring 2019 groundbreaking.

One reason we’re confident is because of a recent effort led by what some would call an unlikely subject.

Millenials and “post-millenials” are often seen by some as being a lazy generation of people who don’t want to work a day in their lives and don’t care about anything but their social media feeds. But it’s people like LeeAnn Mantta who shatter that presumption.

Truly a grassroots campaign, the Jeffers High School student wanted to give back to the Beacon House after her family stayed there when her father was receiving cancer treatment at UP Health System-Marquette.

As part of her National Honor Society service project, Mantta decided to gather items on the Beacon House’s wishlist from people and businesses in the Copper Country, where she’s from. She collected bar soap, kitchen items, copy paper, toilet paper and cleaning supplies for Beacon House amounting to around $400 in value. In the process, she has also raised nearly $4,000 in monetary gifts.

“It’s nice to pay it forward, because not everyone has everything you have,” Mantta said in a press release quoted in a recent Journal article.

Without belittling the Beacon House donations that come from wealthier donors or larger charitable businesses and organizations — because those are commendable as well — this effort by Mantta deserves a healthy heap of praise.

On one side, it shows the wide-reaching impact the Beacon House has on Yoopers, and the many lives it touches, from the Copper Country to Marquette and beyond. On the other, it’s encouraging to see younger generations becoming active in our communities and leading inspirational movements and meaningful endeavors.

The Beacon House is deserving of supporters from all generations, and Mantta’s thoughtful effort is a reminder of what can be accomplished collectively, as many people coming together to achieve a common goal are led through darkness by a single guiding beacon.