Students to help Erie veterans


One of the problems Gannon University students encounter is dressing for the weather that comes along with attending a Lake Effect school. Sometimes finding the appropriate attire is hindered by the fact that it is so easy to lose.

Gloves and mittens hardly ever travel in pairs and hats disappear as easily as unmatched socks. The Villa Maria School of Nursing is taking this into consideration as students begin their service learning project.

Students in Carol Amann’s Older Adult Nursing class are collecting winter wear like hats, gloves and coats as well as first aid items for homeless veterans until mid-February. Gannon students wishing to donate can leave the items in any of the bins located in Morosky, the Villa Maria School of Nursing office, Zurn, Waldron, Palumbo or the Office of Residence Life.

The donations will be sent to the Erie United Methodist Alliance (EUMA) and distributed through that organization.

The EUMA is devoted to serving homeless people in Erie by providing shelter, necessities like food and clothing and life skills training. It also provides outreach programs for homeless people and runs shelters including the Liberty House, which specifically serves veterans.

According to the EUMA website, one out of every three homeless men are a veteran. The Liberty House works to help veterans re-establish their independence and transition into permanent housing by training them to act positively toward life issues and find stability.

Amann said she decided to coordinate the drive through her class when the Americorps Vista asked her if she would be willing to do something to aid homeless veterans.

“I felt this was in line not only with the mission of Gannon, the intent of Erie GAINS, but my own personal beliefs and those of my students — to provide caring, health improvement and safety of those vulnerable populations,” Amann said.

As an army veteran, Amann said she holds a fondness for this group.

“We are really blessed to be able to provide a service to those in need,” Amann said.

Mackenzie Blaney, a junior nursing major, said she did a service learning project in previous classes with Amann at the Sunrise Living Center, which she was required to seek out and complete on her own. This semester’s installment of the Older Adult Class is completing the service project together.

Blaney said service learning helps her as a nursing major because the job itself is service.

“It helps connect that yes, we have a medical and scientific aspect of our job, but it also helps us connect the human part of our career,” Blaney said.

Students also encounter opportunities through service learning. Blaney said she still receives phone calls and emails from the Sunrise Living Center asking her to come back and help anyway, even though the coursework is done.

As for the donation project underway, Blaney, whose father served in the Air Force and has brothers enlisted in the Navy and Air Force, said it feels like the class is doing more for people in real need rather than employees of service centers.

“I feel like it’s more service than anything we’ve done in the past,” Blaney said. “And I’m real big on the ‘helping the veterans’ thing.”