Local auto shop sets up financial help for seniors

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz A group of senior citizens go through a round of calisthenics at the Alpena Senior Citizens Center Wednesday. A new program initiated by the owner of The Auto Shop & Truck Repair will help seniors struggling to pay for medications or co-pays. The money made at the shop from all of the oil changes will go to the senior center and allocated to those in need.

ALPENA — A new program through the Alpena Senior Citizens Center and a local auto shop is going to help seniors who are struggling financially.

Applications are being accepted at the senior center and the requests and allocations will be determined by a committee that has been set up.

Program Director B.J. Sander said the senior center was approached by The Auto Shop & Truck Repair owner Mike Newberry, who wanted to help seniors who need help financially to pay for things like medication and co-pays on medical bills. Newberry decided that for every oil change he does until the end of the year, he will give money to the senior center, which has created a special fund for the money, and it will be issued to qualifying seniors.

Newberry said CarQuest Auto is donating the oil for the fundraising effort and as long as that continues he will donate 100 percent of the money from the oil changes. He said if he has to purchase the oil, only that cost will be deducted and the balance donated.

Newberry said he works on automobiles for seniors often and has overheard stories about their financial situations. He said many of them were heartbreaking and it motivated him to find a way to help.

“I would hear about the cost of their medications and how they couldn’t afford it and frankly it turned my stomach,” Newberry said. “I knew I had to find a way to help. I was ready to go to the pharmacy at Meijer and start paying for prescriptions for the seniors, but because of HIPPA laws I couldn’t do that.”

Newberry said a Meijer employee recommended he reach out to the senior center and after exchanging some ideas, the new partnership and program was launched. He said although the program is only scheduled until the end of the year, he hopes there is enough support to continue it.

“I really want to see it take off and I’m willing to do it for a long time,” he said. “I’m very passionate about our community and especially seniors. I think we should all pull together to help them as much as possible.”

Sander said applications for funding can be filled out and submitted at the senior center and the committee will review them. She said payments will be paid directly to the institution the client needs to pay.

Sander said there are many seniors who should be able to benefit from the program and hopes it will continue beyond the end of the month. She said people who want to help can drop off donations for the program at the senior center.

Sander said there are many seniors who also need help in other ways as well. She said the senior center often gets calls from people looking for help with chores around their home.

“They are always looking for someone to shovel, plow, rake or do little jobs around their home,” Sander said. “Maybe this will be a way that will help get others to volunteer and help them with those types of things. I think overall there is a lot of need out there for seniors.”

Sander said if the program is discontinued, the money will be distributed until it is exhausted, even after Jan. 1, 2018. People over the age of 60 are eligible.

Newberry said a basic oil change costs $25, but they can be slightly higher for diesel engines or for the use of synthetic oil. He said people can call 340-2233, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. to schedule an oil change appointment.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.


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