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Tibbits receives donation from Men Who Give

Men Who Give of Branch County chose Tibbits Opera House as the recipient of its latest donation with the funds going toward installation of a monitoring system for the theatre’s fire suppression system.

With the current Men Who Give membership at 41, Tibbits will receive $4100 toward the project estimated at $8,586.00.

Patrick Kelley of Coldwater, one of the co-founders of Men Who Give, said “I was really alarmed to hear Tibbits didn’t have a monitor system. I’m happy the group decided to support this project. It’s imperative that we protect that building!”

Men Who Give held its first meeting in January in Coldwater. The group is modeled after similar organizations across the country including locally, Women Who Care of Branch County. Every member of Men Who Give commits to donating $100 at each of their four yearly meetings. A fifth check is written directly to the Branch County Community Foundation as an emergency fund if an organization needs assistance between meetings.

The fire suppression system in the theatre uses a dry sprinkler system. In case of fire, the sprinkler system is triggered and fills with water to suppress the fire. Leaks in the sprinkler pipes anywhere in the building can also trigger the system. According to Tibbits Executive Director Christine Delaney, the latter happened earlier this year.  “Fortunately, we discovered it pretty quickly and the leaks only flooded the men’s restroom and art gallery with minimal damage. The challenge is, if the system triggers either by fire or a leak, the alarms only sound at the building.”

In a presentation to Men Who Give, Delaney said “Fire and water damage are two of the greatest threats to historic buildings. If the building is unoccupied we don’t know something is wrong. Identifying this problem was nerve-racking as the building sat empty during the pandemic.”

Delaney hopes the work will begin yet this month. Those wishing to contribute to the project fund may contact Tibbits at 517-278-6029. Online donations may be made at Tibbits.org with “fire suppression” in the description.