HAWARDEN, Iowa (KCAU) — Lisa Millage knows how precious and short life can be. She works as an activities director at Hillcrest Health Care Services in Hawarden. From the moment a new resident walks through the doors, Millage tries to make every second count.

“I’ve always said you’re not just going to sit around and think that you’re going to do nothing. I never give up on people if they tell me no. I will still go back and say are you sure you don’t want to come?” asked Millage.

Millage gets the residents involved in volunteer programs, games, outdoor activities, and religious programs.

“She’s very jolly and just kind of makes your day, jokes around, very helpful. If you can’t figure out a game, she helps you out with it,” resident Mary Vandriel said.

Another resident, Melvin Hulshof said there are no dull days with Millage.

“She does a real good job. She lines up different games for us. Usually every day we play something,” Hulshof said.

Paige Philips’s dad is a resident at Hillcrest. She said Millage’s energy brings out the best in others.

“Dad was kind of on the fence about playing a game of cards, and she can come in and get people excited and energized to be active and engaged and having a good time,” Philips said.

The Hillcrest residents are not the only ones Millage helps. Her daughter nearly died, twice, from autoimmune diseases. Millage says her daughter’s positivity and determination motivate her every day.

“She was always a trooper through that. I’m not going to ask why, “why not me?” I can gain weight, and I can lose my hair and that’s all things I can manage and hopefully things will get better and they did,” Millage said.

Her efforts don’t stop there. Millage has been making and selling jars of jelly for 10 years. She uses the money to buy Christmas gifts for Siouxland children.

“It’s a wonderful gift to be able to give, because not only does it make me feel good to be able to help people, other people are so involved now, so it makes a difference. Every Christmas when I wake up on Christmas morning, the joy that I feel is that someone got to open their gifts, that the little children are happy.”

Despite facing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Millage sold 400 jars last year. She says her residents help support the fundraiser every year and she has no plans of stopping any time soon.