Around the County: A sanctuary for veterans. 

October 1, 2020

Around the County: A sanctuary for veterans. 

Around the County is a presentation of Preferred Credit Union, www.preferredcu.org, located locally at 266 N. Jebavy Dr., Ludington.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

EDEN TOWNSHIP — Just over a mile east of Custer Road a sanctuary sits along Hawley Road on the edge of the Manistee National Forest. Wilwin Lodge at Cygnet Cove is a retreat for veterans. The 1,183 acres are owned by Michigan American Legion, but operates under the authority of an autonomous board of directors. The center point of the property is Woodruff Lake, a 67 acre spring-fed private lake. 

Earl and Beverly Ruttkofsky

“We provide comfort to veterans and their families,” said Earl Ruttkofsky, who, along with his wife Beverly, oversees the property. 

Veterans and their families can stay at the facility up to five days for free. Lodging includes choices of staying in a historic farm house or its outbuildings, or modern cabins (including handicap accessible cabins).

While all veterans are welcome, special emphasis is placed on those with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) or disabilities. 

“Many people don’t realize the sacrifices our veterans make for us,” Earl said.

“We see a lot of healing here,” Beverly added. “I witnessed one dad who came home from his tour and hadn’t spoken to his young children in months, due to PTSD. The family came out here and he stayed to himself the first couple days. Later in their stay he was out on the lake fishing with his son. It was very moving.” 

Wilwin Lodge was founded in 2010 on property donated by Pellston businessman Robert Considine. It was originally located on 600 acres of land six miles northwest of Trout Lake in the Upper Peninsula. The name is derived from combining the first names of lumbermen William and Edwin Chesbourgh.

By mid 2013, a mining company struck a high quality limestone lode on the Wilwin property covering almost 400 of its 600 acres. The company purchased adjoining properties and then offered to purchase the Wilwin organization new property, its present location. It was relocated in 2015. 

The Eden Township property, located at 3383 E. Hawley Road, was formerly known as Sippy Ranch and later Cygnet Cove. Over the years it has been used by organizations such as local Boy Scout troops.

The facility offers hiking, fishing, swimming, and relaxation. There is no hunting allowed on the property due to the sensitivity of many PTSD guests to loud noises. However, guests who enjoy hunting are enjoyed to explore the adjacent Manistee National Forest. 

The property continues to be used by scouting organizations as well.

The facility relies on donations from individuals, organizations, and businesses. Beverly and Earl have been with the facility since it was in the U.P. While they oversee its operations eight months out of the year, they do not get paid. Earl sits on the board of directors, which is made up of five people who represent the Michigan American Legion, Michigan Sons of the American Legion, Michigan American Legion Auxiliary and the Legion Riders. 

“I was not in the military but my father served in World War II,” Earl, a member of the Michigan Sons of the American Legion said. “I just have so much respect for the dedication and sacrifice of our military. You really become aware of this when you spend time out here.” 

More information about the lodge can be found at its website, www.wilwinlodge.com. Donations may be sent to Wilwin Lodge at Cygnet Cove, c/o American Legion, 212 N. Verlinden Ave., Lansing, MI 48915. 

 

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This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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