HOSPICE OF THE EUP
Community rallies at year-end to pay Hospice House mortgage
SAULT STE. MARIE, MI - Community members gathered at the Robert and Helen Ball Hospice House on December 31 not only to welcome the coming new year, but to celebrate those who helped retire the building’s $900,000 mortgage.
Thanks to the generosity of Barbeau natives Nathaniel “Tanny” and Raeona Armstrong, Hospice of the Eastern Upper Peninsula was able to pay off its mortgage less than two years after it was written by Old Mission Bank.
Bank CEO Dave Firack was on hand when Hospice of the EUP Executive Director Tracey Holt tore the mortgage document into pieces and handed them out to community members in attendance, who threw them into a fire prepared especially for the occasion.
“It may be considered bad karma to burn one of your own mortgages, but this is one of the happiest days of my life,” said Firack. “We thought the mortgage might be paid off within three to five years, but it’s being done after less than two years.”
Donations from the Armstrongs and those who responded to a year-end campaign not only paid the mortgage, but put some into the Ball Hospice House reserve account to pay bills and expenses into the coming year.
Hospice of the EUP does not charge for any of its services which, in addition to providing a place for terminally ill Chippewa, Mackinac and Luce county residents to spend their final days, include nursing care, counseling, pain management and more.
The Armstrongs preferred the quiet of their home for their New Year’s Eve celebration, but they braved a lake-effect snowstorm to stop into the Ball Hospice House earlier in the day to present their gift to Hospice of the EUP board members Tim and Sue Tetzlaff.
Tanny Armstrong said he became aware of hospice some 30 years ago, when his nephew’s wife became ill and required hospice care.
While he and Raeona have made smaller hospice donations in memory of friends and family over the years, this time it was different.
“We have donated in the past, but we wanted to reach farther,” Tanny said.
Raeona said she and Tanny had been talking about making a donation to Hospice House since the plan was made to build the facility a few years ago.
Their intentions were solidified when Holt spoke at their church, recently.
On New Year’s Eve, after talking with Holt and Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Mary Jo Duvall, the decision was made.
“We are very happy to help out,” Raeona said. “We know hospice has done wonderful things for families and friends in the area. They provide a wonderful service.”
Tim Tetzlaff, a longtime area physician, said to the Armstrongs, “When someone becomes terminally ill, it touches a lot of people. Any one of us could be using this facility in the future. It is amazing when people like you come out of the clear blue with a donation of this magnitude. This is a magnificent surprise.”
Tetzlaff said 82 families have been helped by the five-room Ball Hospice House since it opened in August 2012 and that there have been a few occasions when all rooms were filled and more patients were on a waiting list.
In addition to patient rooms, the home features a full kitchen, great room with fireplace, sunroom, deck, and meeting space.
Holt, addressing the crowd that had turned out to celebrate the mortgage burning later in the evening, said she continues to be impressed by the community’s interest in supporting Hospice of the EUP and the Ball Hospice House.
“Over the past five weeks, we received donations large and small from people who have never donated and those who have supported us for some time,” she said. “We are thankful that so many people have helped us build and maintain this dream.”
Board member Sue Tetzlaff recently brought together a number of hospice volunteers to form an annual giving campaign that was launched in October.
The campaign seeks to provide a stable form of funding for hospice services throughout the year.
“We are grateful for all of those who have contributed, and we want them to know that their continued donations will help us provide services for years to come,” she said.
It costs $250,000 per year to operate the Ball Hospice House and provide services there and in patients’ homes.
In addition to dollars, hospice donors and volunteers contribute much in the way of supplies, along with thousands of hours of service.
To find out how you can support Hospice of the EUP and the Robert and Helen Ball Hospice House, call 906-259-0222.
Pictured: The Armstrongs present a cheque to Sue and Tim Tetzlaff of Sault Ste. Marie, hospice board members.