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Fundraising continues for Beacon House

Shown is a rendering created by RG Design Company of Marquette of the new Beacon House to be located near the new UP Health System-Marquette hospital. Organizers need to raise another $900,000 before breaking ground on the new facility. So far, $2.1 million has been raised. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — Although the Beacon House is closer to reaching its goal of raising enough funds to start building a facility adjacent to the new UP Health System-Marquette site, $900,000 is still needed to break ground on the project.

Even though $2.1 million has been raised for the new facility, $3 million is needed to obtain a construction loan to build what includes the first 20 rooms, general offices, lobby and kitchen. The building will be constructed in three phases and the plan is to have a total of 60 rooms when it is completed.

The new building will be named the Steve Mariucci Family Beacon House. Since his family were guests at the Beacon House several years ago when his mother was in the hospital, Mariucci has played a critical role in fundraising for the donation-based organization.

The Beacon House also operates 21 beds at UPHS-Marquette’s current facility along College Avenue. However, the new hospital along Baraga Avenue will not provide hospitality rooms.

Since the nonprofit organization opened its doors in 2002, over 250,000 patients, families and caretakers have stayed at the Beacon House during times of medical situations and crises.

When Duke LifePoint, the owner of the hospital, announced plans to build another hospital on the other side of town, the Beacon House Board of Directors began researching opportunities to obtain a building next to the hospital.

The existing building, located at 1301 N. Third St., was put on the market in August 2017 after UPHS allotted the nonprofit a 2-acre plot of land by the intersection of Seventh and Spring streets, near the new hospital. The Beacon House downsized its services in August by closing the Third Street building.

Originally listed at $1.5 million — the same price the building sold for over 15 years ago — the amount was dropped to $1.17 million. There have been several potential buyers, said Beacon House CEO Mary Tavernini Dowling, but nothing has panned out so far.

“There has been a flurry of activity, with several showings to out-of-town potential buyers and second showings to local interested parties. We expect a new offer shortly,” she said in an email.

Tavernini Dowling said the hospitality rooms have been fully occupied since the Third Street building closed.

“We have fine-tuned the program there to use the 21 beds for those with the greatest need and review our guest situation daily,” she said. “Cancer patients who need treatment daily and are in compromised health are a priority. Mothers of premature born babies in the (neonatal intensive care unit) that need to be close to feed their baby and spouses of patients rushed here by ambulance or helicopter are also priority.”

It’s an important time for the Beacon House, Tavernini Dowling continued, as the hospitality rooms will no longer be operative once the hospital moves to its new location in April.

“We’ve expanded our program by reaching out to all area hotels, motels, Air B&Bs and apartment owners and have a list of discounted accommodations for those who are unable to stay with us,” she said. “We are doing everything we can to make sure everyone has a place to stay at the most affordable price possible, and our hospitality team is working very hard to accommodate everyone we are aware of that needs our help.”

According to the Beacon House 2018 annual report, 37 percent of families could not afford to donate more than $10 per night in 2017. Over 9,500 guests spent nights at the Beacon House, with the average guest stay being three nights. Around 700 guests were turned away due to limited capacity but no family is ever turned away due to monetary issues.

Current fundraising efforts to build the new Beacon House include a 906 Pledge plan, where the organization is asking everyone in the 906 area code — which consists of the entire Upper Peninsula — to pledge $9.06 per month for 12 months or more.

Supporters can go to www.upbeaconhouse.org and click the 906 Pledge, and enter a credit card one time and it will automatically deduct the designated amount monthly for as many months as the donor indicates.

“We have also sent a detailed mailer to all past guests and donors, and are making follow-up calls to determine possible interest in naming rooms and features of the new facility,” said Tavernini Dowling. “One family in Illinois has dedicated their holiday season reaching out to all their friends, families and business associates to make donations for the Mike Reynolds Memorial Deck of the new Beacon House. They have helped raise over $220,000.

“I’ve been traveling across the U.P. to meet with businesses who may be interested in having a room named for them, in support of the hundreds of people who stay with us from their county when they need specialty medical care.”

The Beacon House team will be in the Keweenaw Peninsula later this month to present the 906 Pledge program at UPHS-Portage since over 30 percent of Beacon House guests come from the area.

“We are hoping to host events in Iron Mountain and Escanaba and are working with area businesses to find venues for our presentations,” she said. “With only $900,000 to go, we’re almost there. That’s only 18 businesses, individuals or organizations pledging $10,000 per year for the next five years.”

Tavernini Dowling said there have been over 5,000 donations and pledges so far, ranging from $5 to $300,000.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has helped us get to this point in our campaign,” she said. “This is truly amazing and shows the love and generosity of people across the U.P. and around the country. Our hearts are so full. And Steve Mariucci is the biggest hero of them all. He’s donated his own money and has reached out to so many people to help us.

“We will be so proud to cut the ribbon on our new Steve Mariucci Family Beacon House when it’s built, and Steve and his family will be there for us to honor their efforts to help the people of the U.P.”