Informational tour held for Beacon House

Visitors to the Beacon House informational tour on Wednesday afternoon dine on Copper Crust pizza as the learn about the services offered by the agency. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

By RACHEL OAKLEY

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE — In celebration of Hospitality House Week, Beacon House of Marquette offered informational public tours on Wednesday and Thursday last week to spread the word on what the agency does in the community.

Beacon House is a non-profit, donation-based organization that offers a “home away from home” for families around the Upper Peninsula who need to stay in Marquette for medical emergencies.

“People often don’t plan for a medical emergency,” said Hospitality House of the Upper Peninsula CEO Mary Tavernini Dowling. “When they’re faced with it, it just adds to the burden of what’s already going on when you’re trying to figure out ‘Where am I going to stay, and how am I going to be able to afford this?’ We love to say that we’re one less worry for those people.”

Jennifer Olson and her son Riley are currently staying at Beacon House while Olson’s mother is in the intensive care unit at the hospital down the street.

“This is a fantastic place,” said Olson. “It takes so much worry out of (the situation). It has a homelike atmosphere that takes the stress out of being at the hospital.”

The current Beacon House on Third Street in Marquette has 33 bedrooms, and the agency offers 11 rooms within the hospital itself, but Dowling said that it is now working consistently at full capacity and running a waiting list.

With construction of UP Health System-Marquette’s new hospital underway, Dowling said their goal is to raise enough funds to build a larger 60-room Beacon House near the hospital for easy access to the families who are attending to sick loved ones.

Dowling said the new hospital has set aside two acres for Beacon House to build on once it reaches its goal of $6 million for the construction. It’s hoped $2 million of this, Dowling said, will come from a generous individual or business after which the hospitality house will be named; $2 million will be received in the form of in-kind goods and services for the construction; and the remaining $2 million will come from donations from those who appreciate the work Beacon House does.

A total of $500,000 has already been raised during the “silent phase” of their fundraising, but now officials are actively getting the word out that they are seeking donations for the construction project.

“Marquette has always been so incredibly generous with us,” said Dowling. “All the businesses and the individuals in this town are just so amazing … They know how we serve our neighbors all across the U.P.”

For more information and a link to donate to the capital campaign for a new, larger Beacon House, visit UPBH.org.

Rachel Oakley can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is roakley@miningjournal .net.