MUSCATINE, Iowa–After United Way of Muscatine started holding the annual Day of Caring each fall, their staff members started noticing a trend. Because the community service event took place before most trees dropped their leaves, many seniors still needed help getting their yards cleaned up and ready for winter. “We were still getting calls from seniors who needed their leaves raked after the Day of Caring,” United Way Program Manager Nichole Sorgenfrey remembers.
United Way knew they needed to find a way to get volunteers to the people who needed their help. They also wanted to create a volunteer opportunity geared towards families. In 2015, they created the Family Day of Action, an annual event which pairs families with seniors who need help with yardwork.
In addition to allowing seniors to maintain their independence, Sorgenfrey loves the way the Family Day of Action lets parents and their children to make a difference in the community together. “I think it’s a great opportunity for parents to teach their young the importance of volunteering,” she said. “It’s also a good time to reconnect by doing a small, fun project together.”
Typically, between 15 and 20 families participate in the Family Day of Action each year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made many understandably wary about doing activities away from home. When Sorgenfrey saw that fewer families had signed up before the event Nov. 8, she adjusted it to better suit everyone’s needs. This year, families interested in volunteering may contact Sorgenfrey at any time to have their own Family Day of Action. So long as United Way still has seniors on their list who need a helping hand, Sorgenfrey will continue scheduling families to assist them. “We can take it until it gets finished, and we can take more if more seniors call,” she stated.
On the day a family signs up for, they will go to the address of the house that needs raking and then clean up the yard without ever having to have contact with the homeowner or United Way staff. “This is a very safe opportunity for families,” Sorgenfrey stressed. This extended Family Day of Action dovetailed with Community Volunteer Week at Muscatine Community College, helping more community members get involved.
As an added perk, participants can also enter a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. All they have to do is take a photo of themselves raking leaves for their assigned senior and email it to United Way. United Way will then arrange a safe way to present it to the winner.
If you would like to take part in the extended Family Day of Action, or if you need assistance with yard work, contact Sorgenfrey by emailing her at [email protected] or calling (563) 263-5963.