'Peace of mind:' Student volunteers work together to help the elderly as winter approaches

MILWAUKEE -- On a chilly Saturday, Nov. 9, with temperatures in the low 40s, college students and faculty teamed up to help the elderly, with highs in the low 20s in the forecast for the second week of November -- and winter setting in.


"We are all raking," said Michael Metcalf, a business faculty member at Milwaukee Area Technical College.  "There's huge clumps of ice and snow mixed with the leaves, which is a really weird view to see."

The November cold snap and snowstorm left behind quite the mess in Julie Hert's yard.

"That's what you always wonder," said Hert. "How can I deal with this?"

At 72 years old, she was appreciative of the helping hands.

Julie Hert

Helping the elderly ahead of winter

"It's great to know there are people around that are thoughtful and generous of their time," said Hert.

For the crew, it was a labor of love.

"We see that there is a huge need," said Metcalf. "We are really happy with what we've done so far. We are trying to build a culture here for more community service learning."

This group was part of the 800 students volunteering from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, and MATC for the annual "Make A Difference Day."

Helping the elderly ahead of winter

Zachary Garrity

"Older adults are relying on us, so we make sure that we are out here regardless of the weather to help them out as best as we can," said Zachary Garrity, program director at UWM.

From yard work and garbage removal to trimming bushes and beyond, Sandi Ammerman, associate director of the Eras Senior Network, said these efforts go a long way for homeowners like Hert, who live alone.

"It helps to prevent falls for the seniors, and it's a way to keep them independent in their homes," said Ammerman.

Helping the elderly ahead of winter

"It's great knowing we helped over 300 older adults citywide," said Garrity.

The partnership was aimed at helping make things easier for those in need with winter approaching.

"It's a sigh of relief, and it gives me peace of mind," said Hert.

Helping the elderly ahead of winter