I want them to know that I am there for them

Jeanette Arthur has been volunteering for as long as she can remember. She approaches each day as an opportunity to give back to others in the community and is now sharing her positive attitude and kind-hearted approach with students at UW-Madison.

Arthur is the Home Chore Volunteer Coordinator with South Madison Coalition of the Elderly— one of the 80+ community partners associated with the Badger Volunteers program at UW-Madison. And it’s not hard to see how much she cares about her student volunteers—even going as far as participating in her student’s orientations held on campus at the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

“You don’t get that with every volunteer site,” said Haley Spranger, a Badger Volunteer who worked with the Home Chore Program for two semesters.

Jeanette shared two simple reasons for her involvement with the orientations: support and gratitude.

“I want them to know that I am there for them,” said Arthur about the volunteers she works with. “I appreciate them taking time out of their schedule to help with our mission.”

South Madison Coalition of the Elderly strives to “preserve and improve the life satisfaction of older adults in a number of ways.” The Home Chore Program meets the practical needs of seniors in order to keep them living safely and independently in their own homes.

The mission of the Coalition provides a unique volunteer opportunity for students rooted in practical service delivery. Volunteers with the Home Chore Program travel to the homes of older adults in Madison to perform basic household chores that the resident may no longer be mentally or physically able to perform.

But washing dishes, doing laundry and cleaning bathrooms is just the beginning. Both Arthur and student volunteers recognize the important relational aspect that results from this partnership with seniors in their homes.

“Some of the residents would wait on their porch and greet us when we arrived,” said Spranger.

With isolation becoming increasingly prominent and dangerous among older adults, the added promise of weekly company, conversation and even a hug can make all the difference.

“I believe one of the most neglected populations is seniors,” said Arthur. “But they have so much to teach us.”

Aside from her active involvement in the partnership with the Morgridge Center for Public Service, Arthur engages in a number of other public service activities that seem to surpass her job description. And although she is responsible for finding volunteers for the Home Chore Program, Arthur admits she too can be found cleaning for the residents they serve.

“I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty,” said Arthur.

Arthur cannot speak highly enough of her volunteers, but if one of them is unable to make it for a shift, she takes it upon herself to get the job done.

When asked about her various job responsibilities, Arthur rattles off a list of activities ranging from finding drivers to deliver Thanksgiving meals, to planning a volunteer appreciation luncheon. It becomes increasingly difficult to tell where her job requirements end and her personal contributions began.

Originally from Chicago, Arthur spoke of her early experiences with public service by offering to babysit for neighbors and friends. “I come from a family where we are always helping other people,” said Arthur.

It seems to be no secret that her history of civic engagement has resulted in her warm and dedicated personality. No mater the person, no matter the task—Arthur wants to help.

“Doesn’t matter if they’re two or 102-years-old. I will try to help someone if I can help them,” said Arthur. “It’s in my bones.”

Arthur is an excellent example of the many avenues through which individuals can pursue public service. Whether it’s to clean someone’s home, offer a neighbor a ride or encourage and validate the work of student volunteers—the impact is real. The impact is relevant.

At the Morgridge Center for Public Service, staff members are grateful for the contributions Arthur has made to students at UW-Madison and to the greater Madison community.

“Jeanette is a wonderful human and partner to work with,” said Steph Harrill, Director of the Badger Volunteers program. “She is dedicated to the community she serves and works hard to create a positive impact.”

Public service is important to Arthur. She hopes it is important to others, too.

“I hope this program stays around for along time,” said Arthur about Badger Volunteers. “Because we really need it.”

Thank you, Jeanette, for your continued dedication to Badger Volunteers, the Morgridge Center for Public Service and the greater Madison community. You are a shining example of what it means to engage in public service and of the impact we can all make on those around us.


By: Miah Gatzke