TV6 & FOX UP’s “The Up Side” series focuses on people, businesses, organizations, and events making a positive influence in the U.P. Weekly, Upper Michigan’s Source calls attention to the many positive things that happen in Upper Michigan. “All too often, we only hear about the negative things that happen. There’s much more to life than that,” says TV6 & Fox UP GM / VP, Rick Rhoades. “We know there are many people who do things to help others have a better life. We know there are many businesses and organizations that make our communities a better place to live.”
For the week of July 17th, 2017 Mary Tavernini Dowling was chosen as this week’s ‘Upsider’.
MARQUETTE, Mich. — Among the hundreds of ‘Thank You’ notes wallpapering the halls of the Beacon House, a 3” x 5” piece of paper tacked to Mary Tavernini-Dowling’s bulletin board reads three simple words, “THINK BIG, MARY!” The note was passed to her by none other than Steve Mariucci after a golf outing two years ago, teeing off the first plans for an annual Celebrity Golf tournament.
The Beacon House is considered an essential part of the medical care community, and 2014 marked the celebration of the organization’s 10th year as a staple charity in Marquette, MI.
Not many people tell Tavernini-Dowling to think big. It is advice she doesn’t hear often. Mary makes it a habit of thinking big. In fact, she calls it ‘Mary Mode’. Since 1999, Mary’s get up and go approach to her professional career piloted marketing and communication strategies for businesses all across the Upper Peninsula. As President and CEO of M. & Associates, and former owner of La Dolce Video and Design, Mary Tavernini-Dowling has ‘thought big’ for businesses long before planning this year’s fourth annual Celebrity Golf Classic. She brings more than 30 years of experience in management and marketing to the organization.
Chief organizer of one of the Upper Peninsula’s largest fundraising events, Mary Tavernini-Dowling has helped expand the organization far beyond the Beacon House. Since 2002, as CEO of the parent organization ‘The Hospitality House of the Upper Peninsula’ (HHUP), Mary’s full time gig now canopies over five organizations; The Beacon House, Hospitality Gifts, Hospitality Rooms, Your Coffee for a Cause, and the Wig Salon. In 2013, when MGH/Duke LifePoint became a for-profit entity, HHUP adopted non-profit oriented operations to continue supportive and compassionate services for patients receiving medical care and for their loved ones.
As a charitable organization, their fiscal sustainability is solely reliant on the generosity of partners and all those who understand that the need for Beacon House may only be a heartbeat away.
Every summer, The Mariucci Family Foundation will co-sponsor the benefit golf competition raising nearly one third of HHUP’s annual operating budget. Managing the Celebrity Golf Classic is a year-round operation. HHUP is taking Steve Mariucci’s advice, and thinking bigger.
The golf tournament is no small feat. Hundreds of volunteers, donors, and 36 nationally recognized celebrities will gather on two golf courses to raise funds for the organization. Over the course of two days, HHUP will feed four meals to 500 people, and hold more than 11 different events. Included among the festivities are a live auction, a golf-clinic, a ‘Match Party’ catered by Elizabeth’s Chop House, and live entertainment.
All for a good cause, the proceeds benefit The Beacon House, a non-profit organization that provides patients, families and loved ones an affordable place to stay when receiving medical care at Marquette General Hospital, Bell Hospital and the Upper Peninsula Medical Center. Over 150,000 guest night stays have been provided since Beacon House opened in June 2002. Beacon House is one of the largest hospitality houses in the nation and accommodates a large number of patients, caregivers, and family members.
When a loved one is being treated for cancer, or while a premature baby fights for life in the NICU, HHUP hopes to provide an environment that promotes healing, emotional support, shared strength and comfort to patients and their families.
A Beacon House guest is, for example, recovering from a limb amputation, or visiting a father who is undergoing major heart surgery. They are at Beacon House waiting to hear if there is hope, or coping with the reality of a deceased loved-one. Beacon guests are searching for answers, and embracing each other with healing and community.
“It is science,” said Dowling. “Patients heal faster when loved ones are by their side.” The cost for guests to stay is donation-based. There are 33 rooms in the former Village Inn, and all operations are funded by donors, sponsors, and charitable events like the Celebrity Golf Classic. Mary Tavernini-Dowling says her marketing / sales background is a lot easier to tap into these days. “It’s so easy for me to ask for money from the community when I know how helpful it is to our guests and their families. I look forward to coming to work every day because I know what we’re doing makes a difference.”
Countless examples of HHUP’s impact on peoples’ lives can be told through albums of Thank You letters, consistent monthly donations from former guests, and testimonies of current guests. Most recently, the story of young woman named Grace exemplifies the power of community healing provided by HHUP.
The power of the Beacon House story can be told from the perspective of a little girl named Grace. One minute, all that Grace knew was that she was simply driving down the highway, and in the next she was in a coma with a cranial pressure gauge in her head. Her parents were guests at The Beacon House during her hospital stay at Marquette General.
“While in the hospital, she knew her father was there; she knew that when she opened her eyes she would see him,” said Dowling. “She knew it didn’t matter how long it took for her to recover, he would be there when she did.”
To this day, Grace has never seen the inside of the Beacon House. She has never walked through the doors of the building, or stepped a foot in a room. Still, she says it saved her life. Grace believes she is here today because of HHUP. For her, it was a conduit that connected her to her family in her coma, and throughout her long and difficult recovery. “Without it, without them, she doubted she would have pulled through.”
“We always hope we are making a difference in peoples’ lives, but to hear just how much of an impact we’ve made is beyond rewarding… Donation[s] make those times possible, when nothing else matters except to be together.” – HHUP
MARQUETTE, Mich. August 14, 2017 — Hospitality of House of the Upper Peninsula (HHUP) CEO Mary Tavernini Dowling received a ‘Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition’ for her charitable work with Beacon House, the Upper Peninsula’s only hospitality house.
U.S. Congressman Jack Bergman (R-MI 1st District) sent the award to “mark momentous occasion, as well as to commend exemplary actions from members of our communities,” according to Rep. Bergman’s office. “I think it goes without saying that the work Mary has done definitely falls into that category.”
“To say I’m humbled would be an enormous understatement!” said Dowling. “Every day I work alongside people who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping our U.P. neighbors during a medical crisis. It is a great privilege to belong to an organization that looks to provide comfort and healing to those who need it.”
Dowling has been the CEO of HHUP since 2002, which oversees operations at Beacon House, Hospitality Rooms at UPHS, Hospitality Gifts, Your Coffee for a Cause, and the Wig Salon for Cancer Patients. When a loved one is being treated for cancer, or while a premature baby fights for life in the NICU, Beacon House provides an environment that promotes healing, emotional support, shared strength and comfort to patients and their families.
“The work done by the U.P. Beacon House has been exemplary to the Marquette community and throughout the State of Michigan,” said Representative Jack Bergman. “Helping our neighbors is at the core of a healthy community, and Mary Tavernini-Dowling has served as a continuous example of commitment, dedication, and support to those in need in the Marquette community.”
Dowling says she considers the award recognition for the overall mission of Beacon House, which is to provide ‘home away from home’ for families of patients receiving critical care and UPHS, and she hopes to share the honor with the entire Beacon House family.
“To receive this Special Congressional Recognition from Congressman Bergman is an incredible honor,” said Dowling. “I’m so proud to share with all of the team at Beacon House.”