2017-12-14 / Front Page

Helping with warm coats, funds for cancer patients

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


MARTI PAQUETTE has volunteered at Samaritan’s Closet in Lake Leelanau since she retired in the county 10 years ago. She is also co-president of the Leelanau County Cancer Foundation. MARTI PAQUETTE has volunteered at Samaritan’s Closet in Lake Leelanau since she retired in the county 10 years ago. She is also co-president of the Leelanau County Cancer Foundation. Editor’s note: Following is the second story in our three-part series on members of the Leelanau community who impact the lives of others all yearlong. Their work is especially appreciated at Christmastime.

One of the first things Marti Paquette did when she moved to Lake Leelanau about 10 years ago was sign up to volunteer at Samaritan’s Closet, the non-profit thrift shop that has helped so many community members.

“It’s very rewarding when a family comes in and they don’t have warm coats and winter boots and we have those that we’re happy to give to them,” Paquette said. “And the volunteers are wonderful and fun. It just makes me happy to be there with people that I really care about. And we’re helping the community.”


MARTI PAQUETTE was a travel and special events coordinator for the University of Nebraska before moving to Lake Leelanau with her family. MARTI PAQUETTE was a travel and special events coordinator for the University of Nebraska before moving to Lake Leelanau with her family. Paquette volunteers at Samaritan’s Closet every Saturday, takes minutes at the organization’s board meetings, and is the communications person with other volunteers. She creates work schedules and passes along messages.

But when it comes to work that’s even closer to her heart, Paquette has found her niche in the Leelanau County Cancer Foundation (LCCF), a non-profit with the mission of helping local families affected by cancer.

Since July, in fact, Paquette and her husband Ed have been co-presidents of the LCCF.

The foundation provides funds for cancer patients who need help with day-to-day expenses such as gas, food, diagnostic testing, household bills and more.

THESE CHILLY dogs, Pearl and Homer (from left) went through the snow-covered ice on south Lake Leelanau Monday. Lola, the older and wiser pup in the background, knew better.THESE CHILLY dogs, Pearl and Homer (from left) went through the snow-covered ice on south Lake Leelanau Monday. Lola, the older and wiser pup in the background, knew better.
In the three years since the LCCF was founded, the fund has paid for lodging and transportation for people who are getting cancer treatment in another city, dental bills, repair of a pellet stove, new car tires and car insurance.

The foundation helped a woman who lost her hair during chemotherapy get a wig, Paquette said.

“We know we are doing something that’s helping people,” Paquette said. “What we tell people is we’d like to ease their worries. If we can do that it makes everything worthwhile.”

But not everybody knows about LCCF, she said.

“Our biggest frustration is that we know there are so many people in the county that have cancer and they don’t know about us,” Paquette said.

The LCCF reaches out to about 5,000 people each spring in a fundraising mail appeal. It also receives grants from area foundations, including $17,000 it recently received from four groups: the Leelanau Township Community Foundation, which gave the LCCF $10,000; Genuine Leelanau; Cherryland Cares; and the Campbell Endowment Fund.

But the LCCF’s signature event is the La-TEA-Da High Tea, which is modeled after a formal British high tea and is held every year at Black Star Farms.

The event includes a raffling off of donated baskets that bring in about $8,000 per year.

There is also a hat contest.

“Some of the ladies go all out and they have their hats and their elbow gloves and their fancy clothes,” Paquette said. “One woman even wears her pink boa every year.”

The tea has become so successful the LCCF may begin having two per year, with the second held in the southwestern part of the county, she said.

Paquette has lived in Lake Leelanau for about 10 years. She and her family had lived all over the United States, including a stint in Leelanau in the late 1980s. When she and her husband retired and the family was deciding where to live, Leelanau County was first on their list, she said.

Just before retiring, Paquette was the travel and special events coordinator for the University of Nebraska. She and Ed have two adult children — Derek, who lives in Royal Oak; and Tricia, who lives in Lake Leelanau.

Paquette attended her first La-TEADa shortly after moving back to the area. She was so impressed that she told them to call her for help. They called her the very next day, she said.

Back then the organization was called the Leelanau Cancer Fund and any money raised was given to the Munson Healthcare Regional Foundation to be distributed.

But members soon realized the money was being given to people who were being treated at Munson while others in Leelanau County who were being treated at other hospitals were not being helped, Paquette said.

People began calling to request that funds be available to all county residents, Paquette said. So the independent non-profit LCCF was formed in 2015.

LCCF is an all-volunteer organization, with 100 percent of funds raised given to county residents who have been diagnosed with cancer.

More than $50,000 has been provided. The average grant was $1,000, but was raised to $1,500 through strong local support for the organization.

Any county resident who is being treated for cancer and needs help financially can contact Terry Gremel, a retired oncology nurse who works with LCCF, by phone at 645-2120. They can also mail Paquette at P.O. Box 325, Lake Leelanau, MI 49653.

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