Cancer Closet gets $16K from more than 100 women

KINGSFORD — “Our prayers have been answered,” said Diane Schabo, president of the Dickinson County Cancer Unit Loan Closet, as the non-profit was chosen by the 100-Plus Women Who Care of Dickinson County to receive this quarter’s donation.

The Loan Closet was awarded about $16,000 that allows them to move forward with its needed building upgrades.

“We had a very hard time thinking about having to use the money that people donated for our cancer patients to fix the building,” said Schabo, noting the volunteer-operated organization relies completely on donations and community funds.

“Diane’s presentation made an impact,” said Kris Leonard of 100-Plus Women Who Care. “Almost everyone’s life is touched by cancer in some way, at some time, and the Cancer Closet continues to help those who are afflicted by this disease.”

Building renovation plans include insulation, new windows and siding.

Volunteers discovered the lack of insulation while pressure washing the building.

“This explained the cold rooms in the winter,” Schabo said. “The electric fireplace in the office got us through those really cold months.”

The windows throughout the facility do not open for ventilation in the summer months, as well as leak, she added.

“We have to do something, because it’s going to continue to deteriorate while supplies keep going up,” she said. “However, the upgrades will cut down greatly on utility costs.”

Habitat For Humanity has offered their construction services as well. “The money that we don’t have to pay for labor can go back to our clients — that makes me happy,” Schabo said.

The Loan Closet last year had to deal with major leaks that forced them to replace the entire roof.

“We purchased the supplies and Ryan Okler of Okler Roofing offered to do the labor at no cost,” she said. “They did such an awesome job for us — we truly appreciate all the help.”

The Loan Closet helps cancer and non-cancer patients with a variety of services, including medical equipment at no charge, along with some forms of financial assistance such as to cover travel expenses or prescription costs.

Items available at the DCCLC include wheelchairs, walkers, bed rails, canes, commodes, crutches, overbed tables, shower chairs, toilet risers, transfer benches, walkers, Ensure supplement drinks, incontinence pads and underwear, wigs, hats and scarves.

This equipment also can be lent out to non-cancer clients for up to six months if available.

Schabo said the Loan Closet does not carry electric lift chairs or hospital beds; however, it has a resource book with contact information to those who could help with these items.

The services are available to all residents of Dickinson County and those with Aurora, Florence, Niagara and Spread Eagle addresses in Wisconsin.

Non-residents are welcome to any item within the “free area” in the equipment room. “If a person is in need of further assistance, we will make calls to different service areas — we try to help everyone,” she said.

The Loan Closet still accepts donated medical equipment.

DCCLC received its first donation from the 100-Plus Women Who Care in 2018. At that time, they established a “catastrophic fund” for its cancer patients.

This fund, Schabo explained, allows the Loan Closet to provide extra financial assistance for “extreme cases.”

“For several clients, the funds we provide don’t go far because of the loss of work — some even faced things like losing their house,” she said. “It really has been a godsend for a lot of people.”

Last year, they provided services to more than 100 clients, 86 of them financial assisted cancer patients.

Schabo praised area communities for their continued support over the years. “It’s such a great place we live in,” she said. “It warms my heart when donations come in, especially the young kids who raised the money on their own.”

The Cancer Closet was started in 2000 by Lorraine Luba and Ruth Weber. When the American Cancer Society left the area, they asked the women if they wanted the equipment they had in stock.

“They started out of Ruth’s home with medical equipment and it grew from there,” Schabo said.

They have been at their current site at 201 E. Breitung Ave. in Kingsford for about six years, in a building that formerly housed a heating company.

They currently have about 26 volunteers, and welcome anyone wishing to give of their time. Volunteers work in pairs and take two-hour shifts during the week.

Schabo, who has volunteered for 13 years, noted she also is willing to do presentations to groups or organizations to make the public aware of the services they provide at the Loan Closet.

The Loan Closet is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. If a situation is an emergency, those calling should leave a message and a board member will be in contact for other arrangements.

To contact the Dickinson County Cancer Unit Loan Closet, call 906-776-0966 or email to dickinsoncancer@att.net.

The 100-Plus Women has raised about $684,000 for local charities and organization since December 2012. The group now comes together about three times a year, contributes $100 each as individuals or teams, then hears presentations from three nominees before voting on which one will get the entire amount donated.

“We were not sure after COVID how 100-Plus Women would respond, but this amazing group seems to have come back with great enthusiasm and still want to make a difference in our community,” Leonard said.

Leonard reminded area charities and organizations that have received 100-Plus Women funding in the past they can reapply after four meetings have passed.

“Often their needs change or expand and many of them have limited budgets,” Leonard said. “It is so impressive how this remarkable group of women listen very closely to the three presentations at each meeting and ask very thoughtful questions. The decisions are often very hard to make and many times the results are extremely close.”

The group will next meet Dec. 4 at Pine Grove Country Club in Iron Mountain.


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