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July 2022 Newsletter

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Governor's Volunteer Awards

The 2022 Governor’s Volunteer Awards regional ceremonies have been held at four locations across the state. The ceremonies featured remarks from Governor Kim Reynolds, and have been held in Cedar Falls, Ottumwa, Cedar Rapids and Pleasant Hill. The Storm Lake ceremony will take place at a later date.

More than 500 awards are being presented this year. It is estimated that more than 150 communities in Iowa were served by this year’s honorees.

Coordinated by Volunteer Iowa, the Governor's Volunteer Award program—now in its 38th year—provides an easy way for Iowa nonprofits, charitable organizations, and government entities to honor their volunteers with a prestigious, state-level award.

More information is available at A complete list of award recipients, as well as photographs from each event, is available at

Volunteer Iowa Opens Fall Cohort Opportunity for Service Enterprise Initiative Participants

A national Points of Light program led statewide by Volunteer Iowa, the Service Enterprise Initiative is a proven, research‐based model that equips organizations to leverage volunteers and their skills across all levels to successfully deliver on their social mission.

Through a multi-month virtual engagement with Volunteer Iowa, organizations will move through a change management process with innovative training and consulting support, that will result in embracing volunteers into their core operations and greater impact.

An organization will receive:

  • A thorough research-based assessment of existing organizational capacity and volunteer engagement practices
  • Up to 16 hours of training on change management and reexamining the ways in which the organization engages volunteers
  • Individualized consulting to address unique organizational opportunities and challenges
  • National certification signifying the organization’s commitment to and proficiency in appropriately leveraging the time and skills of volunteers to meet the social mission of the organization

Applications are due August 5th to be considered in the Central Iowa fall cohort, with additional training opportunities available across the state. View a recording of the June 29th informational webinar HERE, or visit for more information. Applications can be requested by emailing

State Service Plan listening sessions

Are you invested in volunteering and service in Iowa? Then we invite YOU to give us feedback!

Volunteer Iowa is working on our next State Service Plan. Every three years Volunteer Iowa is charged with drafting this plan, which serves as a blueprint for identifying state priorities, themes, and areas of emphasis for Iowa national service and volunteer programs.

Feedback is invited from the public, from existing partners, and any organizations that are invested in service in Iowa. Pre-registration is requested but not required. Register here:

In-Person Public Sessions:

Storm Lake
Thursday, July 14; 3:00-4:30 PM
AEA/Iowa State Extension Building
824 Flindt Drive; Storm Lake, IA 50588

Tuesday, July 19; 11:45 AM - 1:15 PM
Nevada Public Library
631 K Avenue; Nevada, IA 50201

Dubuque Thursday, July 21; 3:00-4:30 PM
Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque
Roshek Building Suite 195 - McCarthy Center
700 Locust Street; Dubuque, IA 52001

Virtual Public Sessions:

Volunteer/Mentor Programs
Thursday, August 4; 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
Meeting Information:
Microsoft Teams Link
Meeting ID: 217 407 388 59
Passcode: AueDXY
Call-in (Audio Only)
+1 515-348-6300,,246569747# United States, Iowa City
(800) 532-1215,,246569747# United States (Toll-free)
Phone Conference ID: 246 569 747#

National Service Programs
Thursday, July 28; 9:00 – 10:30 AM
Meeting Information:
Microsoft Teams Link
Meeting ID: 239 174 662 013
Passcode: HqPuQW
Call-in (Audio only)
+1 515-348-6300,,348983443# United States, Iowa City
(800) 532-1215,,348983443# United States (Toll-free)
Phone Conference ID: 348 983 443#

Participants who wish to review a copy of the current State Service Plan can find it on the Volunteer Iowa website: 2019-2022 Iowa State Service Plan.

Contact Wayne Ruble with any questions.

Give Back Iowa Challenge Winners Announced

Volunteer Iowa is pleased to announce the winners of the 8th Annual Give Back Iowa Challenge, a campaign in which businesses encourage their employees to volunteer and log their hours as part of a statewide competition. This year, the challenge ran from April 1 – May 30 across the state of Iowa.

Studies show employer supported volunteering leads to improved employee engagement, organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and retention. From an engagement perspective, places of employment are perfect environments to encourage and support volunteering efforts that contribute toward meeting significant community challenges.

The 2022 Give Back Iowa Challenge outcomes showed higher levels of volunteering and increased participation across the state. The total number of hours logged in 2022 nearly doubled last year’s totals.

Participating employers were divided into two categories based on the number of employees. Winners were selected by the highest average number of volunteer hours per employee. The 2022 winners are:

  • Small: CENT Credit Union, Mason City
    Honorable Mention: Des Moines Metropolitan Planning Organization, Des Moines
  • Large: Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, Riverside
    Honorable Mention: Spencer Municipal Hospital, Spencer

For resources on employer-supported volunteering or to find volunteer opportunities, visit

Meet Shirah Jacobs

Shirah Jacobs joined Volunteer Iowa on June 7, serving as the Summer AmeriCorps Alumni Development VISTA. Shirah grew up in the Drake neighborhood of Des Moines. She graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Shirah’s previous work experience has centered around engineering and design, or education and science communications. She’s helped design parts and mechanisms for construction equipment, satellites, and consumer products. She has also staffed science education programs through the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (in partnership with the YWCA) for grades 7-12. She served as an instructor in a math learning center for two years, teaching grades k-12.

This is Shirah’s first national service experience. She’s excited about her project in alumni development, because she believes that the path to a better tomorrow is built on giving back and valuing every contribution.

In her free time, Shirah loves to tinker: fixing household appliances, upcycling clothing, making pet toys, or trying to grow house plants from kitchen scraps. You can reach Shirah at

Welcome James Stanton

Iowa MENTOR Program Outreach and Support Summer VISTA James Stanton started with us on June 20. James grew up in the Des Moines area, primarily on the east side. He attended the University of Northern Iowa and graduated with a degree in Mathematics.

James has spent time working as an organizing fellow for NextGen America, working to engage young voters in the political process. That work revolved around making phone calls, registering people to vote, and tabling on UNI’s campus. While James himself has not had previous national service experience, he has volunteered frequently with AmeriCorps VISTA members and programs.

James enjoys spending his time going out with friends, snuggling up to a good show, and playing video games. James can be contacted at

Volunteer Iowa Staff Retreat

In late May, the Volunteer Iowa staff gathered together at McRae Park in Des Moines for our annual staff retreat. This year’s retreat consisted of team building exercises lead by former commissioner Cheri Doane. Fun Pictionary-like and trivia games brought out our competitive spirits! Cherian Koshy, our most recent commission chair, then lead the staff through brainstorming sessions focused on our State Service Plan, by wearing different hats to think about the various stakeholder groups who are involved with our work. We closed out the retreat with a staff social.

Service in the News

Current Volunteer Iowa and AmeriCorps VISTA Openings

Volunteer with us! Find volunteer opportunities with Volunteer Iowa here:

Current AmeriCorps VISTA openings in Iowa:

Important Dates

Looking for a way to give back? Visit Get Connected today to find volunteer opportunities. Organizations can post volunteer opportunities on Get Connected as well at no cost.