On the national higher-ed scene, UW-Milwaukee already is known as a community engaged university, having earned recognition from the Carnegie Classifications and the White House for its commitment to volunteerism and community engaged research and teaching. Last academic year alone, UWM students, faculty, staff and alumni completed more than 66,000 hours of community service.
From 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 11, UWM will reaffirm its commitment to improving and beautifying Milwaukee by taking the reins as lead organizer of Make a Difference Day. The annual fall event pairs UWM students with older adults living in the city and suburbs who need help preparing their homes for winter. Winterizing efforts include raking, pulling up gardens, weeding and putting up storm windows.
This year marks UWM’s first as lead organizer of the event after nearly 20 years of participation. Working alongside volunteers from Marquette University and Milwaukee Area Technical College, UWM has contributed the largest number of volunteers for several years running. When a new lead organizer was needed for Make a Difference Day 2017, Laurie Marks, executive director of the Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership and Research, decided that it made sense for UWM to step up and serve more.
“We’ve been doing this for a lot of years, and 2017 is a chance for the higher-education community in Milwaukee to really contribute and come together for a citywide service day,” Marks said.
Interfaith Older Adult Programs provides names and addresses of people who have requested winter-prep assistance. UWM officials hope they can draw 500 faculty, staff and student volunteers this year. With strengthened collaboration among the higher-ed partners in the coming years, Marks said, organizers hope that they can eliminate the Make a Difference Day “waiting list” of older adults who need help but who sign up too late to be matched with volunteers.
It’s not too late to make a difference. Faculty, staff and students can sign up to be Make a Difference Day volunteers through Friday, Nov. 3. The event kicks off at 8 a.m. Nov. 11 with free breakfast and distribution of work assignments in the UWM Union Wisconsin Room.