MARQUETTE - Students in the Northern Michigan University Premedical Club wanted to reach out to the community.
They have found a way to do that by helping senior citizens.
"The program came about because the pre-med students at NMU were interested in doing some volunteer work that could help in the community," said Megan Jastremski, a member of the club. "They found that there are a lot of elderly people that need help with their errands, and may not be able to afford help."
Thus the creation of Elderly Errands, a program created by the NMU Premedical Club in conjunction with the Marquette County Health Department to offer services to seniors in the Marquette community at no charge.
The services include helping with errands like grocery shopping or picking up other items at another retail store.
"The services that this program offers to the elderly is running errands. We are not, however, allowed to bring the elderly people in our vehicles because we do not have insurance were something to happen, simply because we are a volunteer program," Jastremski said.
How many students are involved can vary but those volunteering are eager to help.
"The number of students involved are whoever has signed up on the volunteer email sheet at the premed club or whoever has heard about the program by word of mouth and wants to volunteer," Jastremski said. "We are all NMU students.
"The program runs year-round as long as I can find volunteers to run the program," she said. "When someone calls me saying they need help with their errands, I email my list of volunteers and see who can help out.
"The volunteer then works it out with that person for days and times they will provide the help."
Seniors can sign up for the program quite simply.
"All the elderly person has to do is call me," Jastremski said. "My phone number is listed on the Elderly Errands posters that are up around town. Once they call me, I will try to find a volunteer, but I can't always say that there will be someone available. We do try our hardest, however, to get a volunteer for everyone that needs it."
Faculty adviser Marsha Lucas said for students who live on campus, doing the errands for a senior who lives in Marquette is much more viable. However, some NMU Premedical Club volunteers might come from other parts of Marquette County.
"We'd like to have students from Ishpeming, Negaunee, Gwinn, those areas, who could do errands for seniors who live in those communities," Lucas said.
Overall, she has been pleased with how Elderly Errands has gone so far.
"I think it's a wonderful program," Lucas said. "All premed students are dedicated to helping people. This program lets them explore that role and helps them to help the elderly.
"Some elderly people have no relatives in the area to visit with them or to help them out," Lucas said. "This program really helps connect the elderly with the college generation. That's good for both."
For more information on the program, contact Megan Jastremski at 282-6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.