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United Way marks Make a Difference Day

Volunteers weatherize the homes of the elderly, disabled

October 30, 2012
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS (bsummers@messengernews.net) , Messenger News

National Make a Difference Day was celebrated Saturday by the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way with a winter weatherization campaign.

Supported by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, volunteers from the community visited the homes of elderly citizens to assist them in weatherizing windows, caulking seals and applying stripping to doors.

"They're simple things that make a huge impact," Mary Jo Wagner, United Way development coordinator, said.

According to Wagner, this will result in not only increased warmth but also reduced heating costs for the elderly who needed the help.

"We had approximately 20 homes, and they were referrals from Upper Des Moines (Opportunity) and Foster Grandparents," she said. "They were people who are on a fixed income or a low income or weren't physically able to put the plastic on their windows."

Heating represents the majority of people's electricity bills during the winter months, Wagner said.

"This is a way to reduce the wind, the drafts," she said. "Some of the comments we got from people who had done it before said it really made a difference in whether they could afford their heating bill or not. We had a lot of appreciation."

Volunteers came from various organizations and from the community to help provide the free service, Wagner said.

"We had a lot of people that helped us make this possible," she said.

Wagner hopes to continue the effort into the future.

"This was the first year in Webster County and it was kind of our kickoff," she said. "There will be a few homes we'll finish up, but we got most of them done on Saturday, in one day."

For Wagner, it was her first time doing weatherizing windows, working inside the homes. She described it as "an awesome experience."

"You stick these premeasured sheets of plastic along there and it takes two, you have to get it pretty smooth. Then you take the hair dryer around it and it sucks it on tight," she said. "If they had blinds we took those down, and put those back up. It's things, especially the elderly, could not do on their own."

According to Wagner, among the recipients, provided by UDMO, were moms with children who couldn't afford to do it or who were handicapped. All were grateful for the assistance.

"It was really nice. We got so many thank yous, every home we went to," she said. "They couldn't say thank you enough. One of the homes I went to, she gave me the best pumpkin cake."

She added, "Next year, we need to plan on a bigger event even."

For more information about the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way, contact Mary Jo Wagner at 573-3180.

 
 

 

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