Honor Credit Union donates to annual Tree of Love campaign

DOWAGIAC — Wednesday, the staff at Honor Credit Union’s Dowagiac branch were thinking pink, as the business donated to an initiative dedicated to preventing breast cancer in Cass County.

Ascension Borgess Lee Hospital recently launched its annual Tree of Love campaign, a yearly charity drive to raise funds to cover the costs of mammograms for uninsured or underinsured individuals in Cass County. Each year, the campaign, which runs from October through the end of December, culminates in a tree lighting ceremony outside the hospital.

Wednesday, Honor Credit Union helped kick off the campaign by donating $1,000 to the effort. In total, the campaign is hoping to raise $11,000 this year.

“Our continued support of local businesses and individuals make this campaign a success year after year,” said Beth Cripe, development coordinator at the Ascension Borgess Lee Foundation. “We are greatly appreciative for Janie Reifenberg and her associates at Honor Credit Union for their continued support as one of our major sponsors. Honor’s $1,000 donation is a great kick start to our campaign and will help so many with breast services.”

Cripe also thanked Cathy Franz and the rest of the staff at the Marshall Shoppe in downtown Dowagiac for donating to the campaign earlier this month.

Janie Reifenberg, community assistant vice president at HCU, said she was happy she could be a part of the donation to the Tree of Love campaign again this year.

“Most of us know someone that has been affected by cancer, and more specifically, breast cancer,” she said. “Our Honor team here in Dowagiac all have personal connections they could share, making every October so important for us all of us to do what we can to support the cause.  Kicking off the 2020 Tree of Love campaign is the highlight of our year, and our donation this year is especially important as we know the new cases of invasive breast cancer are on the rise again this year, not only for women but men.”

In addition to kickoff the campaign, HCU will serve as a collection location for donations. Donations to the Tree of Love campaign can be dropped at HCU’s Dowagiac location or Ascension Borgess Lee.

“As a donation site, we are sharing the love and supporting the cause again this year by offering a selection of some awesome pink Honor swag for each donation of $8 or more that will light up a pink light on the tree. The Dowagiac community is so fortunate to have Ascension Borgess Lee Memorial hospital right in our back yard, and for the Foundation to offer such an amazing program to the men and women in our community.”

This year marks the 10th year for Ascension Borgess-Lee Foundation — and the 35th year for Ascension Borgess — in providing free mammography and breast health for women of need in the Cass County community. In an effort to grow community impact and reach more women, Ascension expanded the eligibility criteria and conducted new training for scheduling professionals this year, Cripe said. In the calendar year 2020, staff have seen a dramatic increase in Tree of Love outreach. Ascension Borgess Foundations have provided more than $30,000 in breast health services with three months remaining in the year. Additionally, more women have utilized Tree of Love services, an increase of 117 percent over last year.

Cripe hopes to see the trend continue.

“With your continued support, we can expand services like screenings, mammograms and ultrasound-guided biopsies for uninsured and underinsured women in Cass County,” she said. “A gift allows you the opportunity to remember or honor those most important to you. Each $8 donation designates one light on our Tree of Love. An $80 donation provides a mammogram to a woman in need.”

This year’s tree lighting ceremony will be hosted at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2 in Farr Park, next to the hospital. Cripe said social distancing would be observed during the outdoor event.

For more information, contact Beth Cripe at beth.cripe@ascension.org or (269) 783-3026.

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