Ashland University United Way Day of Caring team

We came, we saw, we conquered yardwork as AU's United Way Day of Caring team

Published on Nov. 07, 2023
Ashland University

We came in like a wrecking ball.

That’s not exactly true, but the other members of Ashland University’s United Way Kay Conrad Day of Caring team may have felt that way trying to remember all our names as we introduced ourselves at the team’s meeting spot: Founders Hall Seminar Room.

“Mike from Marketing, Nicholas from Marketing and Jarred from Marketing,” as well as Allison, Hugh, Bethany and Karen, all “from Marketing.”

That was especially true for Diane, the only member from IT, and Koren, the sole representative from Facilities, so the remaining team members, who were all from HR (Michelle, Jill and Ashlee), got name tags for the whole group to write our names.

That way we could get to know each other – mainly for the non-Marketing team members – when we headed out that afternoon to do yard work, exterior cleaning and small exterior jobs for the annual volunteer event, which according to a news release from UW, was the vision of the late Kay Conrad, who felt that volunteerism and service to others is the cornerstone for a strong community.

Mike, Karen and Nicholas

Describing our Marketing group as a wrecking ball at the initial noon meeting, which included free sponsored boxed lunches, came to mind probably because a few days prior some of us Marketing folks were walking past the Archer Library on campus and one of us commented that the sculpture in front of the library, which includes what kind of looks like a wrecking ball, brings to mind the Miley Cyrus video for her song “Wrecking Ball” – but that’s another story.

We were anything but a wrecking ball – much more like a fixing crew – as we went to work on our first stop at a home just outside of the Ashland City limits – raking leaves, washing outside windows and sweeping the porch.

Many other teams, comprised of members from local businesses, UW partner agencies, clubs and residents, were doing the same type of volunteering for more residents who were unable to complete yard work or winterize their homes throughout Ashland County for about three hours on what was a beautiful fall afternoon, Oct. 26.

Referrals for residents who needed help were made primarily through UW partner agencies such as Ashland County Council on Aging, the Salvation Army Kroc Center, Appleseed Mental Health and others, according to UW’s news release.

This was the biggest year yet of the event’s 29 years with 325 volunteers filling 32 volunteer teams working at 115 homes, Stacy Schiemann, UW executive director and an AU graduate, said in the release.

Koren, Jarred and Karen

Our team volunteered at three homes in all.

After the first two homes of mostly raking, the third one involved mainly weeding out flower beds, and just a little raking.

During this last stop, we all agreed on one thing that we never thought we would think: We missed raking. Still, we were happy to clean out these flower beds and make them look better despite how much effort it took.

Each stop had its memorable moments.

The first one had a small structure we were wondering about with only a small part of it above ground. A cellar? A water well? A bomb shelter? Who knows.  

Instead of bagging up leaves like we did at the first one, the resident at the second stop drove to our leaf piles with a utility vehicle so we could fill the back of it with leaves to be driven into wooded areas of the property.

Thanks, Stacy and Missy from UW, for bringing us extra bags to that stop after we used up our supply at the first one, and sorry we didn’t use them. We didn’t expect the resident to help us in this way. It was nice seeing you both, though.

In addition to helping residents, Karen mentioned to several of us Marketing volunteers after our day was done how much fun it was to spend time with some fellow AU employees in a different setting than work.

Mike and Diane

Several of our team members deserved gold stars not only for their efforts, but for how prepared they were.

Two stars to Allison for bringing her own gloves and taking photos. It could have been three, but she wouldn’t let anyone else take photos with her in them. Isn’t that just like a photographer to not want to be in any photos?

Nicholas and Jill also deserved two stars for bringing leaf blowers – same for Michelle for having Windex and paper towels.

For securing rakes, brooms, gloves and trimmers from the university, Koren, you earned three gold stars.

And earning the most stars with four was Bethany, who filled her car with everything but the kitchen sink, as far as materials needed for lawn care goes. She had rakes, garden tools, a tarp and even big plastic leaf hands. Sounds like she made a spreadsheet to figure out what to bring.

She did forget one thing, though, or it could have been five stars: Kneeling pads to help us weed out the flower beds at our last stop.

Maybe next time.

Hugh, Bethany and Mike

Hopefully, next time we won’t come in like a “wrecking ball” as the biggest department for AU’s team or teams, and UW has even more teams, volunteers and homes next year during the 30th Kay Conrad Day of Caring.

Until then, let’s savor the success of this year’s event, which was sponsored by many local businesses, organizations and individuals.

“It was a super successful event and helped so many across the county,” Schiemann said.