LBFE starts fundraising effort

HANCOCK – Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly has been transporting its friends to medical appointments for about 30 years, and to keep the program going, the organization relies on an annual fundraising effort.

Rebekka Mikkola, LBFE medical transportation coordinator, said the drive to raise funds for the transportation program began May 18 with a pancake breakfast.

“That went really well,” she said.

Besides to local doctor’s offices, Mikkola said the LBFE transportation program takes people to Portage Health, Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital, Marquette General Hospital and the Upper Peninsula Medical Center, also in Marquette.

“They go to any office locally,” she said. “Marquette is the farthest we go.”

Mikkola said although money raised for transportation goes into the LBFE general fund, the program has costs for gasoline, oil, maintenance and some staff salaries and wages.

There are about 50 volunteers who take people to doctor visits and other medical needs, Mikkola said.

“The majority of our transportations are done by volunteers,” she said. “We have a pretty good volunteer base now.”

Some transports are done by staff people who either know the people being transported or if the staff person is going to the area where the medical visit is going to be, Mikkola said.

Mike Aten, LBFE executive director, said when the local organization began in 1982, volunteers would take friends to doctor visits on an informal basis. In 1987, the program was formalized.

In 2012, Aten said the medical transportation program cost $66,000, which included vehicle costs and staff salaries and wages.

Besides the annual fundraising effort, Aten said the program receives some grant funding.

Another way money is raised for the medical transportation program is with an annual Ford Mustang sweepstake, and Mark Cinelli, LBFE business manager and fundraiser, said this year the car is a 2003 convertible model with cranberry metal flake paint and a V-8 engine.

“This one has a beautiful leather interior,” he said.

The car will be on display at local retailers, including Tadych’s Econo Foods, and Walmart. It can be seen, also, at Pasty Fest on June 29 in Calumet and at July 4 celebrations.

Cinelli said tickets for the car are $3 each or two for $5, $10 for four and $25 for 10.

The drawing will be at 6 p.m., Sept. 27 at Econo Foods.

Besides the car, the other prizes are a laptop computer, two cords of firewood, a GPS system for a vehicle, and a dozen jars of jam from the Wood’n Spoon in Mohawk.

Mikkola said in 2012, there were 2,000 one-way trips for medical transportation. However, many volunteers will wait for the person they’re dropping off and bring them home.

Of the 2,000 trips, Mikkola said 342 involved a person in a wheelchair.

The monthly transports don’t vary much, Mikkola said.

“It stays pretty steady,” she said.

To donate for the Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly medical transportation fundraiser, stop by the LBFE office at 527 Hancock St. in Hancock, telephone at 482-6944, or go online to