HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) – It started with a call to action earlier this month. Portage Health Foundation asked Copper Country communities to, ‘put their money where their heart is’ and donate to an organization for Giving Tuesday. The response and generosity that poured in totaled, $394,514.28, which PHF was able to match $200,000.00, bringing a grand total of $594,514.28
Those dollars will help support the missions of 18 non-profit organizations across Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties.
“It’s been very gratifying for us to be able to do this, to represent the community and the support they have generously given to these non-profits,” said Kevin Store, Executive Director of PHF. “It’s very satisfying to know we were able to play a part is coordinating such a successful event and bring about collaboration in our community.”
There were 1,239 donations this year, which is more than double the amount that was received in 2019. Donations came from 28 states, with the vast majority of them coming from people within the four-county region the participating non-profits serve.
On Monday, PHF hand-delivered checks to the non-profits helped by this effort. We spoke with them via Zoom while they were at the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home.
“They are working on some significant changes that will bring their organization from the last 40 years, hopefully into the next 40 years,” added Store.
The Barbara Kettle Shelter provides housing and resources for victims and survivors of domestic violence.
“When people come in, it’s not just a soft place for them to lay,” said Executive Director Mary Niemela. “It’s all of the other services they’re going to possibly need. Whether they’re going to have to look for a job or another place to live. Or they were working and now they have to look for transportation. Children, school, food, everything.”
They have purchased a new building in Calumet. They are currently renovating the space with hopes to be moved in by March. They’ll be preparing bedrooms and offices and making some upgrades in the building. Niemela says it will be a much better communal living space and much better space for non-residential services. She says it’s about listening and helping them make the best decision for their life.
“It’s ironic to say you feel elated when you help somebody in a situation like this, because of the domestic violence,” continued Niemela. “However, that’s what it’s all about. When you know you can sit and listen to somebody and have them tell you about their situation and know that they have a burden lifted off you when they told you what’s been happening.”
Niemala says the money received on Monday will go towards direct services to clients and preparing the new building itself.
“I think it helps validate the work, not only of Mary and her team at the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home,” Store added, “but it really helps validate the work that our non-profits do for our community and how important the work they do for our community is.”