Members of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee community took part Saturday in fall Make a Difference Day. A collaboration with Interfaith Older Adult Programs, the event saw volunteers matched with seniors to help prepare their homes for winter.
Though UWM has been a long-time participant, this year was first that the university served as lead organizer of Make a Difference Day. UWM students made up over 600 of the approximately 1,300 people taking part throughout the metro area. They helped close to 300 older residents clean their yards, install storm windows and take care of other timely tasks.
While there was plenty of activity near campus, groups were sent all around the greater Milwaukee area. The Make-A-Wish Wishmakers on Campus team made short work of the mess of leaves around Whitefish Bay resident Joan Colman’s home.
“I’m very pleased with what’s happened with all of this,” said Colman. “The girls really work hard, I’ll tell you that.”
Many students found the day to be rewarding.
“(Volunteering) just has so much to offer in terms of life in general,” said Bryant Arocho, a sophomore in the School of Architecture and Urban Planning. “Yes, you’re working in your free time, but you’re doing it for a good cause and that’s going to shape you as a person.”
While it cost the students only a few hours of their time, the help offered was invaluable for the seniors.
“It’s remarkable what they’ve managed to accomplish in such a short time,” said June Johnson, a Glendale resident. “They help us stay in our homes.”
Colman agreed. “There are certain things I just can’t do anymore,” she said. “This is a great help.”