What’s Good: Niles veteran gets a helping hand during Day of Caring

Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:20 PM EDT
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NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - Now, when we think about What’s Good in Michiana, we have to talk about the annual Day of Caring in Berrien County.

This is the one day every year when employees from The Berrien County Cancer Service and Wolverine Pipeline get together to lend a helping hand to a community member going through a tough time.

This year they’re adding a third partner.

16 News Now tells us why this go-around, they’re not just caring for a neighbor in need, but they’re also saying thank you for his service.

“We owe so much to our veterans. We would not have the freedom we do if not for their sacrifices,” said Berrien County Cancer Society Director of Development Tyanna Essig.

These employees are sacrificing a day of work to show their appreciation for a veteran in Niles on their 7th annual Day of Caring.

“It’s great, this is just something so we can show our appreciation,” said Wolverine Pipeline supervisor Efrain Lazaro.

“You think of some of the sacrifices these gentlemen made when they were so young. He definitely did a lot for our community and our freedom,” Essig said.

In an effort to respect the family’s request to keep the homeowner anonymous, we can’t introduce you to this year’s Day of Caring recipient, but his daughter told 16 News Now how much it means to see people looking out for her dad.

“They’re such nice people that it was pretty much pouring this morning and they were all smiles,” said the homeowner’s daughter, Rhonda.

Especially when they took care of the yard work.

“Well you feel better when your yard looks nice and he was always that person who was mowing his grass and trying to keep things in order. It was always really important to him so this means a lot to him,” Rhonda said.

The Berrien County Cancer Society and Wolverine Pipeline turned to their new Day of Caring partner, Meals on Wheels Southwest Michigan when searching for this year’s recipient.

“We reached out to our Niles delivery driver Jerry. When he first was delivering to him he had trouble finding the house, it was so overgrown,” said Senior Nutrition Services Executive Director Linda K. Strohl.

If that wasn’t reason enough to pass his name along--

“We realized how important the garden was to him because it was so dear to his wife who passed away two years ago,” Strohl said.

Making this more than just cleaning up a yard, but a chance to honor a veteran and the woman he shared his life with.

Those volunteers got pretty hungry after working all day. Lucky for them the fourth big partner in the Day of Caring is Milano’s Pizzeria in Niles.

They brought pizza for the Wolverine Pipeline and Berrien County Cancer Society employees.

They’ve been a part of this for the past seven years.

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