UW-W Students go MADD for volunteering

Make a Difference Day supports the surrounding communities

April 23, 2014

By Michael Riley

Senior Katelyn Wurtz has been involved in UW-Whitewater’s Make a Difference Day for the past five years, serving as a volunteer and on the event staff.

Now as student coordinator of the event, Wurtz helped organize the April 25 to 26 event, where more than 350 students helped work on a variety of projects not only in Whitewater but in Janesville, too.


“We wanted to work with the Janesville community over some smaller communities in the area because we knew our students could make a significant impact,” Wurtz said.  “The partnership ended up being fabulous.  They helped us plan the projects, site supervisors and provided food.”

Rebecca Smith, general coordinator for Make a Difference Day in Janesville, said she was thrilled how the event went over the weekend.

Events in Janesville included cleaning up a portion of the Ice Age Trail, raking terraces in the Fourth Ward and Look West neighborhood, picking up downtown Janesville and making improvements to the Dawson Softball Complex.

“The turnout and enthusiasm of the students were helpful in all of projects completed,” Smith said.  “We were pleased to host the talented UW-Whitewater students.”

Smith said the project managers at each Janesville site appreciated the go-get-em attitude that students brought, making the day as successful as possible.

Wurtz said last year more than 35 to 40 total projects were available, but this year there were less because of the two-day schedule, making the event planning a smoother process.

Wurtz also said she believed the projects focused on areas of Whitewater and Janesville that needed clean up.

Beginning in January and finalizing things in March, Wurtz said she had been planning the details with Jan Bilgen and Katie Barbour from Career & Leadership Development.

Wurtz said finally seeing it all come together with the students in the communities made the long nights worthwhile, especially the cleanup effort of Main Street in Whitewater.

“Students went from Janesville and Freemont Streets all the way to Taco Bell and Culver’s,” Wurtz said.  “It was definitely more meaningful opposed to last year, because all the volunteers worked for an equal amount of time.”

Wurtz said she hopes the relationship with Janesville continues in the future.

“We have not discussed officially a future Make a Difference Day between UW-Whitewater and Janesville, but I can say we were pleased with how it went and would look forward to working with the school,” Smith said.

Smith said it was wonderful working with staff and students because of the students’ level of responsibility and follow through.