New Home to Host Benefits, Fund Raisers & Rentals

 

By Cara Baker, Freelance Writer & Layout Artist

 

After renting an office space for more than 22 years, Mission of Hope Cancer Fund (MHCF) recently found a home of their own. Their new BELIEVE Center, located at 745 Lansing Avenue in Jackson, Michigan, opened its doors at the end of 2017.


Those native to Jackson may remember the building as the old Jackson Moose Lodge. Now the building’s 11,485 square feet of space and large parking lot will be home to benefit auctions, fund raisers, and numerous other activities, all in the name of helping Michigan residents facing cancer.

“We just knew that it would be beneficial to find a venue of our own, where we could do fundraising at our own facility,” said Rock Mangus, MHCF founder and executive director, adding that naming it the BELIEVE Center had been an early decision in the buying process. “We work a lot with the word ‘believe’ and angel wings; wanting to give the cancer patients we support the ability to believe in surviving their cancer,” he said.


Moving into a place of their own was no easy task. The first major hurdle was coming up with a down payment large enough to qualify for the loan, without taking away from their clientele. While MHCF had been saving up for some time, a sudden boost came from a telemarketed donation, from a couple from Greenville who had been contributing to MHCF for years. “They left us their estate,” Rock said. “It put us in the position of being able to purchase the building.”


With a loan approval from long-time banking partner Comerica Bank, and the help of Laura Schleckti from Thinking Real Estate to locate the building, things were finally moving along, but there were still barriers to pass.  One major factor was the building’s roof. “It needed significant work done,” Rock and the Board of Directors said, “to the tune of $150,000. This was confirmed by three separate roofing companies.” It would need to be replaced completely within three years.


 Rock was about ready to walk away from the deal when an old friend of 35 years stepped in—Tony Biddix of RCI Roofing Systems out of Brighton, Michigan. “He came to look at the roof for us, just to make sure we were getting the right bid,” Rock said. After inspecting the roof and discussing it with MHCF’s board, Tony pledged to contribute the materials and labor to fix the entire roof over the course of the next couple of years, at no cost to MHCF. “He told us he’d take care of it,” Rock exclaimed with extreme gratitude. “With that incredible blessing we decided to go ahead with the deal of purchasing the building.”


Always one to give credit where it’s due, Rock also identified the Folk Oil Company out of Horton, Michigan, for some assistance in going ahead with the deal. “They purchased a small piece of property that we would not be using, which helped cover the cost of the last couple of months when we had less coming in,” Rock said. “It has definitely been a blessing.”


On the 23rd anniversary for MHCF, the non-profit held an open house and a ribbon cutting for the grand opening of the BELIEVE Center on November 10, 2017, as well as a blessing of the building. Over the months since, they have built up and opened their BELIEVE Brand Store—which now features items from shirts and other wearables to art from local artisans—as well as held several large events, including a country concert and several auctions. “The building is also available to rent for various purposes, from birthday parties to weddings to corporate events,” Rock said. “And of course, it’s available for free to any cancer patient in the state of Michigan to hold their benefit.”


There is still much to be done with the building, according to Rock and the Board of Directors. “At the advice of past board member and confidant, John Carpenter, we kind of let the building talk to us about what needs to be done, and how we’re going to move forward,” he said. “We’ve discovered there are still many repairs needed, including heating updates, office space renovations, bathrooms, kitchen updates, and updates to the banquet facility, including the stage area.”


Several campaigns are in the works to help with the costs of these updates. “We’ll be starting with a BELIEVE Center Virtual Brick Campaign [see page 11], a Parking Lot Angel Campaign, and a BELIEVE Center Makeover campaign,” Rock said.  They’re also continuing with plans for flea markets, craft and antique shows, mom-to-mom sales, and monthly auctions.


“So we continue to need the support of all and any Michigan residents to help out with all of our campaigns, and by attending fund raisers,” Rock said, adding that they’re still in need of volunteers to help at these events as well. Another place folks can be of assistance is through social media. “We’re starting an extensive social media marketing approach through Mack Marketing,” he said. “So please like us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, and of course you can also find more information on our website, cancerfund.org.”


Rock can’t stress enough how blessed MHCF has been over the years with contributors and contributions, and how much more is needed now with the BELIEVE Center. “We need the support to get our new BELIEVE Center up to date and thriving as a charity supporting cancer patients throughout Michigan,” he said, adding that MHCF’s focus on Michigan is what makes them unique among other cancer charities. “We provide direct assistance for cancer patients of all ages and for any type of cancer, throughout all 83 counties of the state of Michigan.”


As a 25-year cancer survivor, this new BELIEVE Center has filled Rock with hope. “I feel personally blessed that after all this time, a new chapter for growth and cancer assistance can start,” he said. “Board member Michael Glover coined the phrase, ‘Believe to give back.’ So we ask the residents of Michigan to believe to give back, and support Michigan's new BELIEVE Center, and Mission of Hope Cancer Fund.”