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Business Non-Profits

Rove Estate Winemaker Launches Non-Profit Called H.O.P.E.

July 5, 2022

Pour it Forward: A cancer diagnosis and an abundance of community support led the Traverse City winemaker at Rove Estate to start a nonprofit based on random acts of kindness

BY JENNIFER LOVY // PHOTOGRAPHY BY GRACE PHOTOGRAPHY

McKenzie and Creighton Gallagher took a gigantic leap of faith, transitioning most of their crop from cherries to grapes and making plans to open a winery on the Traverse City farm where Creighton and his family have been growing cherries for five generations.

Eighteen months after they launched Rove Estate Vineyard and Winery, life came to a screeching halt. McKenzie was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive breast cancer. She was 34.“I had a year from hell,” McKenzie recalls of the timeframe that included chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, an infection, and shingles that covered her bald head with a painful rash.

Rove Estate Winemaker Launches Non-Profit Called H.O.P.E.

Rove Estate

Then, when her life started to feel normal again, COVID hit, and the Gallaghers wondered if the pandemic would force them out of business. It didn’t. Rove celebrated its sixth anniversary in May.

Today, McKenzie is cancer-free, and she says she is the healthiest she’s ever been. The winery, perched at the highest point in Leelanau County, is doing well, typically selling out of the 10-12 wines they produce each season and attracting more than 600 visitors on a busy-season Saturday.

Rove Estate Winemaker Launches Non-Profit Called H.O.P.E.

Now that McKenzie is healthy and the anxiety caused by the pandemic dissipated, she has turned her attention to the relaunch of HOPE — Helping Other People Everyday — a charity she created “to lift up those experiencing hard times through random acts of kindness.” McKenzie started the nonprofit right before the pandemic but paused it to focus on keeping the winery open.

The catalyst behind HOPE is closely tied to her cancer journey. When McKenzie was sick, members of the community rallied around her family, supporting them in ways they didn’t know they needed. Someone started a meal train, and at least 50 participants dropped off food for the couple and their four young children. Others, including strangers, left gifts for the kids at the winery. The overall outpouring of community support was unbelievable, she recalls.

Rove Estate Winemaker Launches Non-Profit Called H.O.P.E.

“People made an effort to find out about my family in a very non-invasive way and support us. It was the most beautiful display of people helping people. I couldn’t turn off this feeling of needing to somehow pay it forward. I like the randomness and thoughtfulness of putting positivity out there, whether to a stranger, your community, or someone who just needs a little something. That can be so impactful,” McKenzie says.

Sean Cole is a physician and long-time friend of the Gallaghers. When McKenzie approached him with the idea of starting a nonprofit, he was quick to lend his support as a co-chair. Together they oversee the operations of HOPE, including fundraising and distribution of the gifts. Most of the money raised comes from proceeds generated by the sale of select Rove wines.

Rove Estate Winemaker Launches Non-Profit Called H.O.P.E.

“What appeals to me is the human connection and kindness,” Cole says. “The opportunity to help lead an organization that will benefit others who are struggling, whether local, national, or even international, with the Ukraine crisis, for instance — I think it’s just an absolutely incredible venture.”

Through HOPE, people can anonymously recommend someone to be the beneficiary of a random act of kindness. It could be money to buy groceries or pay the rent. Or, it could be funds to cover the cost of a family outing at a waterpark. McKenzie thinks they’re equally important for those going through a rough time.

“You need to make your mortgage payment or pay your electric bill. That’s very real,” McKenzie says. “But there’s another bucket of need when you just want to feel like a person, a mom, or a typical family out on a Friday night for tacos or pizza, something so simple. We want to give with-out restrictions or attachments, with just kindness.”

For more information about HOPE, including donating or nominating a recipient for a random act of kindness, visit hope-gives.com.

Rove Estate
7007 E. Traverse Hwy (M-72)
Traverse City, MI 49684

231-421-7001
roveestate.com

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