Honor Credit Union donates $2,500 to Cass County Cancer Service

DOWAGIAC — It may not have been Christmas, but the Cass County Cancer Service received a gift that was in the spirit of the holiday season.

Honor Credit Union’s community assistant vice president, Janie Reifenberg, presented Maxine Ownby and Ray Klomes, president and vice president of Cass County Cancer Service, respectively, with a check for $2,500 Monday at Honor Credit Union.

Honor Credit Union’s Dowagiac member center manager Linda Tyria was also on hand for the event.

“We are always about community and ways that we can give back to our communities,” Reifenberg said. “Obviously, it’s been a very difficult year for everyone. Donations have been down. Events have been down, and we have not been able to get out into our communities as much. We saw this as an opportunity to make a positive impact.”

The donation was important to Reifenberg, whose brother passed away from colon cancer in 2016. The annual Open Header “Cruise for a Cause,” an event hosted in the memory of her brother, raises money for Cass County Cancer Service.

When the event was canceled this year due to the pandemic, Reifenberg aimed to do what she could to raise funds for CCCS.

“Everybody has been impacted by cancer,” Reifenberg said. “It’s not just me and my brother; it’s someone you know, love or live with. It doesn’t see color, race, ethnicity or gender. It doesn’t care that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. I was really disappointed we couldn’t do an Open Header because one of the highlights of my year is to be able to give back. I needed to find a way to make it happen, and this was it. I feel not enough people know about this or the services it provides.”

CCCS offers assistance in the way of gas cards for patients, help with paying utility bills to prevent the service from ending or just emotional support. The service also provides hospital equipment including beds, wheelchairs, walkers and more. The only qualification for cancer patients to receive assistance from the service is they must live in Cass County.

The organization serves more than 160 patients in the county, according to Ownby.

“We offer qualified patients $600 per year for three years if they still need it,” Ownby said. “Anything we can do that will make their life a little easier.”

Ownby said that providing gas cards is a big component of what the organization does.

“It’s the biggest thing we do,” she said. “People can pay their bills, but they can’t buy their gas. Some of our patients have to go to Grand Rapids or out of state.”

Honor Credit Union’s gift is just the latest CCCS has received from the community. Cass County 100 Women Who Care recently donated $3,000 to the service, and the Cass County Sheriff’s Office donated $1,830.

In a time when the pandemic has affected so much, Ownby is grateful for Cass County’s generosity.

“We’re not able to get out and do our regular fundraisers,” Ownby said. “Donations like this mean so much to us. Whether it’s through gas cards or utility payments, we’re able to help patients through their experience.”

Readers with questions regarding CCCS services are asked to call (269) 699-5551. Donations can be sent to Cass County Cancer Service, PO Box 676, Edwardsburg, MI 49112.

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