Area cancer service, pipeline company team up to help Niles resident in need

Published 8:41 am Wednesday, August 21, 2019

NILES — Last Friday morning, 10 employees of Wolverine Pipe Line in Niles woke up not to transport liquid petroleum products as they usually did, but to make a direct difference in someone’s life.

The group took part in Day of Caring, a national United Way program hosted by local chapter United Way of Southwest

Along with staff of Berrien County Cancer Services, the volunteers cut down bushes, raked up brush and removed backyard objects such as a shed for a Niles resident on the 100 block of S. Fourth Street.

The woman is battling cancer and is often too sick to take care of her property, said her Berrien County Cancer Services nurse, Debbie Hansen.

“You always look for a good candidate,” said David Brooks, Wolverine station operator and coordinator of the service day. “We really wanted to focus on somebody that can’t help themselves and can’t make that change themselves.”

Wolverine turned to Berrien County Cancer Services for help. The nonprofit provides free in-home nursing and resources to cancer patients.

This is the sixth year the two organizations have teamed up. Berrien County Cancer Service finds a person in need, and on the volunteer day, Wolverine completes most of the physical work.

“They’re more aware of who’s in need than we are,” said Terry Swisher, Wolverine area supervisor, one of the day’s co-hosts. “We run a pipeline business. We’re not in the community seeing who’s struggling and needing help.”

Brooks said that Wolverine employees have helped people in need with a number of home improvement projects, from updating interiors to pressure washing to building decks.

With many plants and objects removed, however, Brooks estimated Friday’s Day of Caring was Wolverine’s largest undertaking yet.

He hopes other people and businesses will notice their work and take time to help others, too.

“We want to be pace setters, but we want others to come along and follow us in our run,” he said. “This gives other companies and businesses [a chance] to see what they can do.”

Brooks has seen Day of Caring’s ripple effect. During a home project for a previous year’s Day of Caring, individuals came out to help others with yard work, he said.

This year, as in years past, Milano’s Pizza of Niles provided lunch for the volunteers. Lowes helped, too, providing a discount on items needed for the volunteer project.

Erin Glaske, of United Way of Southwest Michigan, and Maria Abdoo, a Brandywine Community Schools teacher, planted flowers for the Niles homeowner. The flowers can be seen at the front of the homeowner’s house.

Swisher gives credit for 2019’s Day of Caring to his company and his fellow employees. The day both inspires and helps others because of them, he said.

“It’s kind of a blessing that we’re able to give back,” he said. “Our company allows us to give back to the community. We’re not really a big company, but maybe it will inspire someone else to kick in and help.”

Nancy Church, president and CEO of Berrien County Cancer Services, said she was glad her nonprofit could help outside its normal line of work.

“We are just absolutely thrilled to partner with Wolverine Pipeline for this Day of Caring,” she said.


Correction, 10:20 a.m., Aug. 23: A previous version of the article did not specify the type of petroleum transported by Wolverine Pipe Line. The company transports liquid petroleum products. Leader Publications is happy to fix its errors.