NMU sorority volunteers at farm in need during Make A Difference Day

Emily Pagel

Sisters of the NMU sorority Sigma Tau Delta volunteered out at the Hager Farm in Ishpeming on Saturday, Oct. 26 as part of Make A Difference Day. Rachael Belmore, president of Sigma Tau Delta, said she heard of the farm’s need for help through the NMU campus ministry Relevant. “I don’t know how she found me,” Belmore said. “But I got an email from Mama D [Deb Heino] stating they were looking for a group of students to come out for Make A Difference Day and I thought it sounded like a really valuable thing to do and actually help someone in need.”

From left to right, Mackenzie Myers, Molly Fox, Rachel Belmore and Amanda Allard of Sigma Tau Delta volunteer out at the Hager farm. (Emily Pagel NW)
From left to right, Mackenzie Myers, Molly Fox, Rachel Belmore and Amanda Allard of Sigma Tau Delta volunteer out at the Hager farm. (Emily Pagel NW)

Bill and Kathy Hager lost their home in Ishpeming to a fire on Saturday, June 29.

“I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to see the whole bedroom wall on fire,” Bill Hager said. “I got out of the house and let all the animals out. After the fire we had several groups come out and help clean up the debris, we burned a lot of the stuff that didn’t burn in the fire and hauled a lot of stuff to the landfill.”

Belmore said the sorority worked as farm hands for the day.

“We are out here at the Hagers farm helping to clean out the stalls moving wood clearing debris and feeding the animals,”  Belmore said.

Belmore said for their first volunteer outing that it was a success

“It’s been really fun,” Belmore said. “We’ve been working together as a team for the first time which is really cool and it’s nice to get out in the fresh air while it’s still nice enough to be outside.”

During their time at the farm Sigma Tau Delta worked laying out fertilizer along the property, cleaning stalls, moving wood and feeding the farm animals.

“It’s been pretty much what I expected  for basic ranch work but it’s been very rewarding,” Belmore said. “I would definitely like to come back out. I’d like to share the experience with my two daughters. I think I’ll come out again at some point.”

Deb Heino, campus ministry leader for Relevant, said student volunteering has been a huge help getting the farm and the Hager’s back on their feet.

“We’ve been installing electrical in the barn for the animals, put in the fence, we had a couple of guys come out and run electrical fence around the permitter,” Heino said. “We’ve had skirting of the trailer, which students have had a huge help with.

“There’s just a lot of clean up and a lot of daily stuff that has to be done with  having animals and running a farm.”

Hager said he had complication with his prosthetic leg and has been without it for several weeks after having an emergency surgery on his leg; needing help on the farm more now than ever.

“I’ve been off my prosthetic leg for about three weeks,” Hager said. “It’s going to be another three to four weeks before I can get back on my feet. Cleaning the stalls when my wife is at work is almost impossible task.”

Hager said the past two weeks have been productive despite his recent injury.

“We’ve managed to have enough different groups come out  to keep the stalls clean and we cut probably 40 choke cherry trees, that are poisonous to donkeys,” Hager said. “So we’ve cut down all those trees, donated all the wood, and burned all of the brush.

“We had several huge bonfires for the students who come out, but you couldn’t roast marshmallows because you couldn’t find a stick long enough.”

Hagar said he hopes to be back on his feet by mid-December after  his leg heals and with all the help he received from  student volunteers.

“Without the help of the students and the various groups, I would not have been able to get this trailer ready to live in for the winter and I would not be able to maintain the stables and the facilities out here.”

Students are welcome to come to the farm at any time to help volunteer with various tasks Hager said.

“With every group there seems like one or two people that want to come back on a regular basis,” Hager said. “We have at least six individuals that will call and ask if they can come out.  Sometimes I have something I have prepared something for them and other times we have to just wing it.

“I’d like to emphasis without the help from all of the Northern students we would not be where we are today.”

Individual students or student organizations interested in volunteering at the Hager farm and other volunteer opportunities with Relevant can contact Deb Heino at [email protected] or (906) 362-4669.