College students help elderly Milwaukee County residents

Students from UW-Milwaukee and Marquette University spend Saturday, Nov. 7 -- "Make a Difference Day" -- helping elderly Milwaukee County residents get their homes winter-ready.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, with record cases reported in Wisconsin four of the past five days, the service project had a different meaning.

Elise Jaffee, a UW-Milwaukee student volunteer, and Diane Hill Horton, a homeowner, winterized the yard together on Saturday.

"We're helping rake leaves, get her house ready for the winter," said Elise Jaffee, a UW-Milwaukee student and volunteer. "It’s hard for them to get around on their own, and the volunteers we have so many students, really this is their time to get out in the community, give back and be those agents in society."

Diane Hill Horton and Elise Jaffee

Elise Jaffee and Diane Hill Horton

More than 400 volunteers will provide service at 100 homes in Milwaukee County as part of the effort. Hill Horton is thankful for the help.

"I can’t do it by myself I just can't do it by myself and I don’t have people that can come and help me," Hill Horton said.

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Not only does the service project help clean neighbors' yards, it also gives elderly residents a chance to interact with students. A welcome byproduct of the volunteer effort as isolation has been difficult for many during the pandemic.

"It’s been very isolated – it’s been good. Somebody to talk to beside on the telephone," said Hill Horton. "I'm thankful. In this trying time that we’re living in, I’m just glad to be alive you know what I mean so I’m just very grateful."

With social distancing and masks, the student volunteers also enjoyed the interactions. Both parties felt blessed.

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