Pathologists’ assistant students offer hands-on help in Detroit

by Madison Morrison

My fiancé, William Welsh, is the branch manager for a company called HEPACO, which specializes in environmental hazardous waste cleanup. He serves in the Army Reserves with Michigan State Senator Adam Hollier.

Bill has been working with the senator and the City of Detroit to find volunteer opportunities in the community that are only suited for people possessing that specialized skill set.

Since the students in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Pathologists’ Assistant program are trained in handling biohazardous material, he reached out to Program Director Veralucia Mendes-Kramer to see if it was something we could get involved in.

Madison Morrison (left) and fiancé William Welsh (right) were among those who worked with Focus: HOPE leadership to support Detroiters.

There were 12 Wayne State volunteers, including Dr. Kramer (pictured at top, center), six HEPACO volunteers, Senator Hollier, and John DeRuiter from the City of Detroit, making the total 20 participants. The WSU volunteers picked up trash for three hours at Riverside Park on an extremely hot and sunny day! HEPACO provided all the PPE, trash bags, water and coordinated the effort to revitalize this historic property on the Detroit River.

Riverside Park is one of many areas in Detroit that have been impacted by industrial hazardous waste. The park has been closed due to the toxicity of the soil, but the city has undertaken a remediation project in order to reopen the park to the public. The presence of trash requires an additional level of disposal and mitigation. The employees of HEPACO have volunteered their time to clean up trash from this site at least once a month until the project is underway, in the hopes of eliminating an additional impact to the site.

Madison Morrison loads boxes of food for Detroiters at Focus: HOPE.

Through HEPACO, WSU Applebaum has also been involved in delivering meals for Focus: HOPE to elderly community members across Detroit during the COVID-19 pandemic. HEPACO coordinated these events with Focus: HOPE and provided PPE as well as vehicles to transport pallets with boxes of food. The goal of this program is to take action against racism, poverty and injustice in order to build a community of freedom, harmony, trust and affection.

Read about how Madison Morrison’s service in the U.S. Army has prepared her for the WSU Pathologists’ Assistant program.

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