Muscatine has volunteers always ready to pitch in and lend a helping hand, no matter what the project. United Way of Muscatine (UWM), through their many outreach opportunities, works to connect volunteers with particular projects, and to help people find ongoing ways to get involved. Each year, UWM’s Day of Caring provides one of their biggest volunteer opportunities. By connecting citizens and corporations with those who could use assistance, UWM’s Day of Caring makes an incredible difference in the community.
UWM hosted their first Day of Caring in 2007. The organization’s director at the time wanted to get in on an event held by United Ways across the country and planned one for Muscatine. From there, Day of Caring has grown larger each year. Numerous companies throughout the city have made the Day of Caring a part of their annual plans to give back to the community. To help spread the reach of the Day of Caring to even more people, UWM even added a Student Day of Caring to help younger people get involved with giving back too.
According to UWM Program Manager Nichole Sorgenfrey, this year’s Day of Caring involved 450 volunteers on sixty-six projects. These projects included many different kinds of work. Some groups assisted elderly homeowners take care of their properties, repairing roofs, repainting houses, and cleaning up yards. Different groups completed jobs at local non-profits, such as repainting the dorm hallways at MCSA, organizing the Salvation Army’s food pantry, and tidying up Senior Resources’ medical equipment lending closet. Others even partnered with the City of Muscatine Parks and Recreation Department, spreading mulch in area parks and completing other landscaping tasks. As Sorgenfrey put it, “the Day of Caring allows you to get a lot of people doing a lot of projects in one day.”
For Sorgenfrey, the Day of Caring’s biggest impact comes from connecting volunteers to meaningful work throughout the community, and from the positive impact completed projects make. “I enjoy most working with volunteers, pairing them with a project, and seeing them get it done,” she said. Sorgenfrey especially enjoys matching volunteers with older residents who need help caring for their homes. Though the projects they have for the volunteers may seem simple or routine, just having them attended to can make the difference between the resident getting to stay in their home or having to move to an assisted living facility.
Though this year’s Day of Caring has passed, it served as the starting point of UWM’s longer Day of Caring campaign (which includes the Student and Family Days of Caring). Through these events and other opportunities throughout the year, UWM looks forward to continuing to pair volunteers with real needs throughout Muscatine to make sure everyone gets the help they need.