ECE Operation Round Up grant given to ‘Beautiful You’ program

Seven women affected by cancer recently enjoyed an evening of pampering, fellowship and support, which East Central Energy (ECE) members helped make possible.

Harbor Room Coordinator Bonnie Gutzkow-Bowman, left foreground, is pictured with participants in the June Beautiful You class.

“Getting the grant literally saved the program,” said Bonnie Gutzkow-Bowman, coordinator of Harbor Room, the cancer resource center at Cambridge Medical Center. “Our funding for the Beautiful You program was depleted; there wouldn’t have been a class in June without the grant.”

She was referring to a $2,500 grant from ECE’s Operation Round Up® (ORU) Trust, awarded this spring to the non-profit Cambridge Medical Center Foundation, which oversees Harbor Room. Its services are free to all cancer patients and their loved ones, and about 1,300 people per year make use of its many resources. Grants like the one from ORU, donations and various fundraisers are Harbor Room’s only source of revenue.

The women who participated in the Beautiful You class received instruction in makeup application and advice on using wigs and head coverings to cope with hair loss. Trained cosmetic consultants worked with the women individually. Each cancer patient went home with a kit of personalized cosmetic supplies in an embroidered bag.

“The gals were very kind. It really made us feel, each one of us, very special,” said Lee Schleif of Isanti, who is undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. “The treatments emotionally drain you. It’s nice to get together, get done up and feel good about yourself. It was awesome.”

The Operation Round Up Trust is funded by ECE members who agree to have their monthly electric bill rounded up to the next dollar. Each quarter, an independent ECE member trust board reviews the grant requests and distributes the funds. The average annual donation from ECE members is $6; the maximum is $11.88. More than $1.2 million has been distributed in local communities since the program began.

To join the ORU program, ECE members can check the box at the bottom of their next electric bill or call 1-800-254-7944. Organizations which serve ECE members may contact Julie Johnson, 763-689-8046, if they are interested in applying to the ORU Trust for funding.