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Beginning a new chapter

February 22, 2010

HANCOCK - A year to the day after a fire swept through the American Red Cross offices in Hancock, the Red Cross held an open house to show the new space Saturday.

Annette Butina, disaster services coordinator, said the open house was meant "to end a chapter and begin a new one. Give the community an opportunity to come in and see what they helped restore."

The Red Cross had already been in the process of moving to a larger space in the building when the fire hit, Butina said. The new location, formerly used by the Superior School of Dance Studio, is about triple the size, Butina said.

Article Photos

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Annette Butina, disaster services coordinator for the American Red Cross office in Hancock, left, shows attendees of the organization’s open house around Saturday. A year to the day after a fire swept through its office, the Red Cross showed the general public its new space.

"We just moved with a lot less stuff," Butina said.

A week beforehand, they had moved a table, refrigerator and dinner table to the new space. Butina also lost several pieces of computer equipment in the fire.

In an inversion of the usual process, the Red Cross found itself the beneficiary of aid after a fire. Residents and businesses chipped in with private donations or money raised through spaghetti dinners and other fundraisers. In one case, Butina said, a fire victim the Red Cross had helped the year before donated $100.

"It was absolutely touching to get a letter from someone who had been in a fire that turned around and helped us," she said.

About 60 to 70 people had come to see the offices, Butina said, many of whom had never been there. People from the Red Cross office in Marquette stopped by, as did State Rep. Mike Lahti, D-Hancock.

"I think we should have an open house every five years," Butina said.

Barb Vichich of Laurium was looking through the new offices with her husband, Steve.

"We've made donations, we've known Annette for a number of years, and just wanted to see the new location," she said. "We would not be anywhere without the Red Cross. We need to support them."

Garrett Neese can be reached at gneese@



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