West end chamber, health foundation form partnership

ISHPEMING – The Western Marquette County Health Foundation, formerly the Bell Hospital Foundation, has announced it will share services with the Greater Ishpeming-Negaunee Chamber of Commerce to minimize operating costs and better serve the community.

The foundation will be headquartered in the same office as the chamber at 910 U.S. 41 West in Ishpeming. Kori Tossava, executive director of the chamber, and GINCC marketing coordinator Ashley Geist will coordinate communication and assist the all-volunteer foundation board, according to a press release.

Both organizations will remain independent, with different boards of directors, individual decision-making and separate priorities and policies, but share personnel and overhead expenses, the release said.

“The opportunity came up where we knew we could help an important member of our community, while having very little effect on the day-to-day operations of the chamber,” GINCC board Chairman Bob Hanson said. “In this case, the chamber will continue to help build strong business relationships, and the foundation will work to make this a healthier place to live. It was a win-win.”

Foundation Chairman Ron Meyer agreed, saying the partnership will really help the foundation board to get the new version of the foundation up and running.

“We’ve been working on all these pieces behind the scenes, but when somebody wants to know how to apply for a grant, or participate in a fundraiser or just get more information – where can they go?” he said. “It seemed like the perfect match for us. We were looking for a full-time presence in the community, but only part-time personnel.”

The foundation was created with $1 million in funds “dedicated to providing funding for health and wellness solutions to the communities of western Marquette County,” as part of the agreement to sell Bell Hospital to LifePoint Hospitals.

Since the sale was completed near the end of last year, the foundation has given money to the Ishpeming, Negaunee, NICE and Republic-Michigamme school districts for student health programs, the release said, and has committed to match dollar-for-dollar the money raised by swimmers in the Swim Teal Lake Benefit for Diabetes this July.

Details on applying for foundation grants will be available at the end of the month, with the first grant deadline June 30 and the second Dec. 31.

The foundation also hopes to have its website developed and online by May 1. In the meantime, more information can be found on the foundation’s Facebook page or by calling 204-2395.