MARQUETTE – From blueberry pizza, to blueberry brats, Downtown Marquette’s Annual Blueberry Festival has everything from lemonade to ale, shirts, to hats, and earrings to socks. Vendors from across the region set up their tents to sell their art, photography, apparel, or food to the thousands of people who made the trip downtown all day. But not every tent on the street was selling a product.
Jill Lamere is the President of the Marquette Beautification & Restoration Committee. You’ve probably enjoyed some of their work without even realizing it, such as at the Bluff Street or Rosewood Walkways downtown. The organization’s stand was there for a cause today, however. Jill’s group is trying to raise $100,000 to repair damage to their irrigation systems in South Marquette. Without the funds, much of their work to make the drive up from the South into Marquette a more positive welcome will be in vain.
Kim Kruhlik, a Domestic Violence Program Coordinator, made the trip to represent the Marquette Women’s Center, and the myriad of work they do to support and protect domestic violence and sexual assault victims in the Marquette area. The organization works to help victims with as much resource as they can provide; a food pantry, a 16-bed shelter available to male and female victims fleeing domestic violence, therapeutic services, and a team that frequents events such as Blueberry Festival to spread awareness that they are available to help.
In fact, many organizations use events such as Blueberry Festival to get the word out to the masses about what their organizations do to help the community. As Jill Lamere said, “You can see how many people come down here and it gives all of these Washington Street people and other groups and organizations a chance to just be really visible with thousands of people as they walk by.” Spreading awareness isn’t the only reason to frequent these events however, Kruhlik’s tent with the Women Center is important to “bring in volunteers to work at the shelter and for the Sexual Response Team”. Being out at major events is so important that the Center has a full-time employee dedicated just for Outreach.
Events like Blueberry Festival are also a perfect time if you’re looking to reach out to help in your community. Organizations such as the Beautification & Restoration Committee & Women’s Center are always in need of support to continue doing the work they do, as well as numerous other charitable and volunteer organizations just like them.