Beacon house

Fundraising campaign for new facility revitalized

UP Health Systems CEO Brian Sinotte, center, speaks in support of the Beacon House Legacy of Love Capital Campaign at the New Land celebration on Wednesday as Beacon House Board Member Carolyn Severson,left, Hospitality House U.P. CEO Mary Tavernini Dowling, center right, and Beacon House representatives Andrew Lorinser and Amy Rundstrom look on. UPHS recently agreed to lease a 2 acre plot of land near Seventh Street and Spring Street in Marquette to Beacon House for $1 per year. (Journal photo by Lisa Bowers)

ISHPEMING — Whether it’s an illness or a traumatic accident, the need for medical care — especially when far from home — can leave patients and their families in uncharted waters.

The non-profit, donation-based Beacon House has represented safe harbor for UP Health System-Marquette patients and their loved ones for decades.

The organization seeks to provide that same comfort for years to come, by building a new 50- to 60-room facility on the new UPHS campus in 2019.

Beacon House board members and staff, along with UPHS-Marquette CEO Brian Sinotte, and Christian Palomaki, vice president and market manager for River Valley Bank, gathered on Wednesday to kick off a $6 million capital campaign to raise money for the proposed facility.

The campaign was kicked off Wednesday with a $100,000 pledge from River Valley Bank to help pay for the construction of the new facility.

Palomaki said River Valley Bank was eager to help get fundraising for the facility underway.

“This is a way that we can give back to our community and give back to Beacon House and get this project started,” Palomaki said. “The Beacon House has a long history of serving families in the Upper Peninsula. People travel from all over our region to come to get their health care needs met by our excellent hospital.”

Mary Tavernini Dowling, CEO of the Hospitality House of the Upper Peninsula — the parent company of Beacon House — said the pledge from River Valley Bank is a perfect way to jump start the “Legacy of Love” Campaign started by Beacon House Executive Board member Steve Mariucci in 2016.

“To receive this check from River Valley Bank for $100,00 to represent their pledge means the world to us,” Dowling said. “Now that we know where we are going to go, now we get to raise the money. But it’s so important that, again, we have all of our foundation laid before we start to ask for those large dollars so that’s the next step is to see what might be out there to get that initial $2 million raised.”

UPHS agreed to lease the 2-acre plot of land on Seventh Street between Washington and Spring streets to Beacon House for $1 per year for a number of years yet to be determined, according to a statement released Wednesday by Beacon House.

Sinotte said that patients and their families are the No. 1 priority of UPHS.

“Having the Beacon House on our new hospital campus is going to provide a safe and comfortable place to stay during their time of need. We are thrilled to partner with the Beacon House to make this dream a reality.”

The proximity of the proposed Beacon House facility to the new hospital is key for a variety of reasons, Sinotte said.

“Here in the U.P., we do have some weather,” Sinotte said. “So proximity is helpful for some of these patients. Mary Tavernini has educated me on some of their needs and some of those are transportation. So having it be on campus is very important to Beacon House and us, to make sure that patient families can have great access to their loved ones that are receiving care here at the hospital.”

According to the release, designated locations for Hospitality House of the U.P. gift shop and coffee shop have been integrated in the design of the new state-of-the-art hospital. The two enterprises contribute to Beacon House’s operating costs.

Profits from both programs also contribute to the Wig Salon for Cancer Patients, for which UPHS is also allocating space in its floor plan, the releases states.

Dowling said the relationship with Duke LifePoint-UPHS has always been cordial, but Sinotte worked to solidify the relationship and make the new location of Beacon House a reality.

“These recent developments brought on by Brian Sinotte’s tireless efforts, we are confident that we will be working together to achieve common goals that benefit the people of the U.P., and make this brand-new hospital truly the hospital of choice,” Dowling said.

If Beacon House accommodations were not available to patients and their families, Dowling said, the foreseeable outcome could be grim because so many people live more than 50 miles away from the hospital.

“When people are sleeping in their cars or in the waiting room in the lobby,” Dowling said. “Or we find them changing in the bathroom. That’s not how we treat our neighbors in the Upper Peninsula. This is really neighbors helping neighbors in one of the most dramatic and traumatic times in their lives.”

For more information about Beacon House or how to donate to the “Legacy of Love” capital campaign can visit www.upbeaconhouse.org or call 906- 225-7100.

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.