ROCHESTER, Mich. - The Oakland Men's Soccer team continued its commitment to community service working with Meals on Wheels, Oakland University Center for Autism (OUCARES) and PB&J Day.
Every Saturday morning, student-athletes taught soccer and social skills to young soccer players with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The team also delivered Meals on Wheels through the Rochester Older Persons Commission and was involved with the Oakland University PB&J Day making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for those in need.
"I'm extremely proud of our student-athlete's efforts to give back to our community in a big way," said head coach Eric Pogue. "Organizations like OUCARES, Meals on Wheels and Gleaners Food Bank along with Oakland University Day of Service and PB&J Day as are amazing opportunities for our players to really get the most out of their student-athlete experience here at Oakland and continue to uphold the Ethos of Oakland athletics."
"Our player's commitment and enthusiasm for giving up many hours on their free weekends to give back to these special groups of people has been nothing short of amazing," added Pogue. "Special thanks to our Graduate Assistant, Joey Tinnion, for all his hard work and efforts coordinating our team's community outreach."
For several years, the team has taken great pride in working with OUCARES and understands that it means so much more than soccer to those who participate.
"I think it's nice to get involved with the little kids," said Spencer Nolff. "Some of them are really involved and I can tell we make their day by helping them out and having fun with them."
"OUCARES gives kids have a chance to be themselves," AJ Shaw added. "It's a place to have fun and develop social skills while interacting with coaches, parents and other kids."
During their work with the Rochester Older Persons Commission's Meals on Wheels program, the team drove 10 routes delivering meals to homebound senior citizens throughout Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, and Oakland Township.
Due to the senior citizens being unable to leave their homes, they looked forward to not only to getting good food delivered to them, but also for the interaction that meals on wheels provides. Although the team has participated many times, this year was especially meaningful for some of the players.
"Ms. Margaret was so fun, loving and full of laughter," said Williams while recalling their initial delivery. "We were just captivated by the joy and gratitude she had for us visiting her and we wanted to keep her happy and smiling," added Williams. "So, we decided to go on our own time to take her food and spend some time with her at least once a week."
Williams was even able to facilitate a Valentine's Day surprise for Ms. Margaret. "When I got Bravo for dinner, the smile on her face was priceless! We then spent an amazing two hours with her and even learned that she was a fencer in college."
Williams is grateful for the time he has been able to spend with Ms. Margaret and doesn't look at it as any sort of community service, but as a genuine interpersonal relationship.
"She reminds me of my grandma. I'm just blessed to be a blessing in her life."
The team is also looking forward to the Oakland University Day of Service on April 7 and will be volunteering with the Pontiac Community Gleaners Food Bank later this month.