Wolverine Pipeline, area organizations partner to lend veteran a helping hand

Published 10:19 am Friday, September 24, 2021

NILES — Cold and rainy conditions Thursday morning could not keep a full crew of workers from helping a Niles veteran restore his yard to its former glory.

Wolverine Pipeline, Berrien County Cancer Service and Meals on Wheels of Southwest Michigan partnered Thursday to clean up the yard of a Niles veteran during the seventh annual Day of Caring. During the annual Day of Caring event, Wolverine Pipeline employees donate a day of work toward bettering the community.

This year, the company put its efforts toward cleaning the yard of an 85-year-old veteran on Ontario Road in Niles. The veteran was nominated by a Meals on Wheels driver after seeing how overgrown the man’s lawn had become.

“It’s important for veterans, and anyone aging, to know they are a part of this community, and there are people here for them and to give them the care they deserve,” said Berrien County Cancer Service Director of Development Tyanna Essig. “This is a wonderful program by Wolverine Pipeline, and we are here to help.”

Wolverine Pipeline representatives Efrain Lazaro, Niles area supervisor, and David Brooks, utility operations, said the Day of Caring is an event they look forward to each year.

“Each year, Wolverine Pipeline supports us to go out in the community and find, for example, a cancer patient, senior citizen, a veteran, a single mom, a handicap person who needs some help,” Brooks said. “We go out into the community and change something for them they wouldn’t be able to change on their own, do something they can’t do. Today, we are here as his feet and his hands and doing something he wanted to do himself. … Wolverine is an organization that obviously receives because we are a business, but we also make sure that we are an organization that gives back.”

“It is great,” Lazaro added. “We are always asking David when our Day of Caring is. It’s a gratifying experience, especially when we get to see [the recipient’s] face and appreciation. The guys feel really good about it.”

The veteran’s daughter, Rhonda, said both she and her father were grateful that he was chosen for this year’s Day of Caring. She said the yard, which her father loves, has not been tended to on the scale it was Thursday for at least a decade or more.

“This is wonderful,” she said. “When he could, he loved to keep a nice yard, and he always kept it mowed. … It’s wonderful to see people give and not ask for anything in return.”

Before the Day of Caring was done, Essig thanked Meals on Wheels, Wolverine Pipeline, Milano’s Pizzeria and United Way of Southwest Michigan for making the event possible.