Promoting a message of service

By Miles Macdonald

Students spent time in January writing cards of encouragement to U.S. troops as part of the Martin Luther King week of service and remembrance

The Center for Students in Transition sponsored the event. The letters, written by Madonna students, will be sent to the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers and Piquette Square. Piquette Square is a 150-unit apartment building in Detroit to help house and care for homeless veterans. Piquette Square was finished in 2010 and the first tenants moved in June 2010.

“We want to work to acknowledge Martin Luther King and also trying to show thanks to our veteran community,” said John Johnson, a Madonna Transitions Coordinator. “With this event, we want to serve those who have served us. We wanted to have an event to embrace Martin Luther King’s message of service.”

Some students who were writing letters at the event described why they decided to participate.

“I wanted to say something to the troops to inspire them and let them know we’re thinking about them back home,” said Angela Zube, a senior majoring in Nursing.

Another student, Janelle Faranso, who is a junior studying Biology, provided her reason.

“I was encouraged by my professor Veronica Riha and I wanted to show my appreciation and give the troops my blessings and let them know that I’m praying for them,” she said.

Piquette is only the second project of its kind in Michigan joining Silver Star apartment building in Battle Creek and is one of the largest in the nation. More than 4,000 homeless people live in the city of Detroit and one of three homeless men are veterans.

According to their website,, “Piquette Square offers mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, on-site job training, computer labs, educational programs and other support services to help the veterans develop healthy and independent living skills”

There are a total of five VA Medical Centers in Michigan. These medical centers are located in Detroit, Ann Arbor, Saginaw, Battle Creek and Iron Mountain. These VA Medical Centers provides extend care and rehabilitation, healthcare for homeless veterans, mental health aid, research and development, social work and has a program for women’s health.

During his adult life and throughout his career, Martin Luther King spread the message that equality should be shared with all, and that we should all love one another.

More information about the Center for Students in Transition can be found by emailing Johnson at

Additional information about Piquette square, including volunteer and job opportunities can be found at Furthermore, more information about VA Medical Centers, including different locations, can be found at