Just Believe

Local non-profit awards sunscreen dispensers, spreads melanoma awareness

Just Believe, a local nonprofit organization that was formed in loving memory of Jodi Ball, works to prevent skin cancer by placing sunscreen dispensers in communities, with the goal of eventually distributing the dispensers throughout the entire Upper Peninsula. Just Believe has placed sunscreen dispensers in Upper Peninsula communities since 2016 and will be placing sunscreen dispensers at more locations throughout the month of May. (Photo courtesy of Just Believe)

MARQUETTE — May is Melanoma Awareness Month — Just Believe, a local nonprofit organization that works to raise melanoma awareness, will be awarding sunscreen dispensers to local municipalities and organizations throughout the month of May.

Just Believe, which was formed in loving memory of Jodi Ball, works year round to raise awareness about skin cancer and its prevention by giving presentations to area schools and placing sunscreen dispensers in communities — with the goal of eventually distributing the dispensers throughout the entire Upper Peninsula.

The organization has already begun to deliver sunscreen dispensers that have been sponsored by a number of individuals, organizations and businesses throughout Marquette County and will deliver many more throughout the month of May.

A sunscreen dispenser was awarded to the City of Marquette Friday for installation at Marquette’s Lower Harbor and on Tuesday, Wells Township was awarded a sunscreen dispenser sponsored by the VanDamme family. 

On Wednesday, Just Believe will award sunscreen dispensers to Sands Township, Marquette Township, and Chocolay Township.

In Sands Township, a sunscreen dispenser sponsored by the Forefront Dermatology Foundation will be placed in the Sands Township Park Complex. Marquette Township and Chocolay Township will each be awarded two sunscreen dispensers Wednesday, with one for each township sponsored by the Rotary Club of Marquette and one for each township sponsored by the Breakfast Rotary Club.

Just Believe has been helping place sunscreen dispensers across Marquette County since 2016.

“A friend of ours, she had seen a post about sunscreen dispensers so I checked into it further (and) Impact Melanoma awarded me two sunscreen dispensers to be placed in Marquette County, said Delight Hill, awareness chair and trustee of Just Believe.”It just blossomed from there, it was just the next step in prevention and awareness activity.”

Hill said the response to the first two sunscreen dispensers encouraged them to seek funding for more sunscreen dispensers.

“Because of comments and positive encouragement, we applied for a grant from Superior Health Foundation and were given $6,000 for purchasing sunscreen dispensers and awarding them to organizations and schools,” she said.

Since the first sunscreen dispensers were placed Just Believe, many local and national supporters have provided funds for sunscreen dispenser stations across Marquette County.

The sunscreen dispensers have also reached a number of other counties in the Upper Peninsula, with sunscreen dispensers awarded to Escanaba, Gladstone, Munising and L’Anse during the summer of 2017 with the support of the Superior Health Foundation.

A full list of sunscreen dispenser locations can be found at: https://www.jodisbelieve.com/sunscreen-dispenser-locations.html. Hill noted that the list will be updated for 2018 once all new dispensers are placed.

In addition to the sunscreen dispensers placed around communities, Just Believe also has two sunscreen dispensers that can be loaned to organizations for fundraisers or other outdoor events. Interested parties may email dbhill2@charter.net or call 346-6362 or 869-5200 for more information.

Before they expanded to placing sunscreen dispensers in communities, Just Believe began by giving presentations about sun safety in area schools.

The presentations were initially offered to kindergarten classes when Just Believe began providing the presentations and awareness activities in spring 2014, but since then, the program has expanded to reach middle schoolers and high schoolers with their message.

The presentations, Hill said, are specifically tailored to be age-appropriate for each group.

“The only thing I really stress with the kids is the importance of being safe in the sun,” Hill said. “For the older kids, its just all of the safety tips we talk about and avoiding tanning beds, just encouraging them to be aware of the possibilities of skin cancer and how to check their skin.”

She also emphasizes the importance of wearing sunscreen daily, even in the gray winter months. When the sun appears to be hidden behind gray clouds, damaging ultraviolet radiation from the sun can still reach skin.

“It’s not only during the summer that we should worry about sunscreen …. even in the winter, even on a cloudy day, everyone should be wearing sunscreen every single day,” Hill said.

Hill said she also speaks about compassion for those who are fighting cancer in her presentations for older students.

“This year, with the older kids, I’ve been trying to include about being a little bit more compassionate when you see a person who may be struggling or battling with cancer … I remember how my daughter felt, so I’ve been stressing about the compassion,” Hill said.

Hill said every school in Marquette is approached to see if they would like to host a presentation in one of their classes and presentations are also offered if requested.

She is also available to present Just Believe’s awareness activities to groups that are considering sponsoring a sunscreen dispensers.

“I’m more than happy to come and present our awareness activities to organizations or clubs that may be interested in sponsoring a sunscreen dispenser, “ Hill said.

In addition to awarding sunscreen dispensers and giving presentations, Just Believe also puts billboards up to spread awareness of melanoma each spring.

This year, the billboards will go up on May 7, Melanoma Awareness Day, weather permitting.

One billboard will be located at the Crossroads Park and Ride lot, with the other billboard located near the Great American Disposal facility on U.S. 41 West.

For more information on Just Believe, visit: https://www.jodisbelieve.com/ or the Just Believe Facebook page.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is cbrown@miningjournal.net.