Volunteer Hall of Fame
Nominations are now CLOSED for the 2023 Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame Awards.
The Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame is the most prestigious state-level honor volunteers can receive; the people selected have freely given their precious time and talent in countless ways to benefit others and have forever changed their community, the state, the nation, or the world. Inductees are recognized during a special ceremony held in the State Capitol Building and their names are engraved on the Volunteer Hall of Fame plaque on permanent display in the State Historical Museum. Since the award’s inception in 1989, over 175 Iowans have been honored.
Nominations may be submitted by anyone familiar with the nominee's volunteer commitment and impact. Nominees must live or operate in Iowa: individuals, national service members, families, groups, organizations, nonprofits, businesses, or corporations may be nominated.
For information on the Excellence in Mentoring award winners, visit the Iowa MENTOR website.
The 2023 Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductees:
Paula Falconer, Oskaloosa
As an AmeriCorps service member in 2021, Paula established a partnership between The Eddyville Summer Lunch Program and local engineers from Cargill. In June of 2021, the program provided 8,344 meals for families during a food insecure time. This spurred larger discussions among the community’s helping services organizations to think about future collaboration through Paula’s AmeriCorps Program, United Way, and others.
Throughout her AmeriCorps service, Paula built a passion for volunteer recruitment and ways to improve it. Wanting to ensure future members felt empowered in recruiting efforts, she developed a training on “How to Become a Volunteer Superstar: Simple Steps to help you recruit Volunteers for your many projects,” which she shares with new cohorts of AmeriCorps members. Outside of her AmeriCorps service, Paula put her recruitment skills to work in getting a group of family and friends to sew nearly 1,000 bags for the Ottumwa Food Bank as a way to help the bank distribute fresh produce to Iowans in need during the pandemic.
Today, Paula is the Community Relations Coordinator for Mahaska Health where she inspires others to “get things done” for their community. She continues to serve on the Board of Directors for Mahaska Chamber & Development Group seeking to promote, improve, and enhance the business environment and quality of life in the Mahaska Community. She has further demonstrated her commitment to coordinating a direct response for families by starting a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families.
Paula’s impact and passion for connection is best described by her nominator, Erika Abushark: “Paula has committed herself to find a way to bridge gaps that exist in her community, as well as gaps that exist between people. She connects people with purpose and ensures businesses and organizations know that they are an integral part of partnering to make sure supports and resources are accessible to those who need it most. She does not wait for someone else to solve a problem – she draws on her community to rally together to find solutions.”
The Oskaloosa Herald featured Paula’s AmeriCorps service a few times while she was a member. As Paula said at the time, “I want for people to know that we have a lot of resources that are in our community. We just need to look, ask questions, and talk to each other so that we can let others know what is out there.” Paula is the embodiment of a true community connector.
Ray Haas, Coralville
Ray has been richly blessed by the decision he made at a young age to lead an impactful life and it has remained a priority for him. He has touched and been touched by countless lives along the way.
Ray has served with Habitat for Humanity for over three decades. In addition to thousands of hours building homes, Ray helped successfully launch 2 affiliates: in Kirksville, Missouri, and the Iowa Valley Habitat for Humanity starting in 1994. As the President of the Board of Directors and at the committee level, Ray has helped Iowa Valley Habitat maximize their community impact and ensure the continued success of all programs. To date, Iowa Valley Habitat has built and/or renovated more than 150 homes in Johnson, Cedar, Washington, and Iowa counties.
Ray has also been a prolific fundraiser for Habitat. In 2004, Ray and his wife Retha, both avid cyclists, planned a trip to bicycle across the country to raise funds for Habitat. In total, they raised over $50,000 (to build a house in memory of Ray’s parents) while making personal connections and spreading the word about Habitat’s mission from coast to coast—literally. Ray has also participated in 12 Global Village trips through Habitat’s international programs to build safe housing in developing countries. He has also worked on housing projects with the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache nations in Oklahoma.
A mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters since college, Ray has mentored five men from their early youth into adulthood. Ray has been an integral part of life for his mentees, sharing his faith and his life experience with them. He has helped each of them develop their interests and talents as well as their leadership and problem-solving skills. He has also provided invaluable opportunities and connections through his personal and professional networks. Ray and his current Little Brother, Otis, have been together for five years. Ray was recently named Big Brother of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County.
For several years Ray served his Coralville neighborhood by reclaiming and repairing bicycles with neighborhood youth, and teaching home repair and maintenance skills. He also supported several youth in their efforts with Iowa Special Olympics basketball and track/field programs at the local, regional, and state level. Ray has been a blood donor since 1974, when his brother Bob was involved in an accident. He has been recognized by the American Red Cross for organizing blood drives and recruiting new donors. For the past 50 years, Ray has regularly donated blood products, and continues to donate and organize community blood drives for UI Healthcare’s DeGowin Blood Center.
Ray has an impressive history of tying his passions to service to his community. In addition to serving with Habitat and as a mentor, he has served as President of the Adair County YMCA and been a member of Lions Clubs International since 1991. He is a charter member and treasurer for the North Liberty club. A member of New Life Community Church, he supports the free lunch program and local food pantries. Ray and Retha are members of New Life Community Church, and served as a host family to University of Iowa students from Germany, Russia, Korea, China, Malaysia, Brazil, and Thailand in the Friends of Internationals program.
Robert King, Dallas Center
Bob has contributed to the enhancement of several city parks, beautification and long-term planning efforts, and leadership for the volunteer non-emergency transportation and Meals on Wheels programs. Bob leads the Healthy Hometown Group for Dallas Center. This committee is charged with bringing together and coordinating with representatives of all City Boards, staff, major social groups, and employers in Dallas Center.
Bob is currently leading this group in the coordination of 16 collaborative projects aimed at improving the physical, emotional, social, and economic health of Dallas Center residents. He has been a key stakeholder in the development of a comprehensive parks plan, helping to implement environmental projects to increase access to safe and accessible spaces for residents to walk, play, and recreate. These include adding accessible playspace into a current park, and accessible trails connecting areas of town with insufficient sidewalks to the schools. In addition to the parks plan, he has raised funds and led projects to improve accessibility and amenities such as concessions and exercise equipment along trails and the athletic complex, and has coordinated the planting and maintenance of over 80 trees throughout Dallas Center. Bob was instrumental in the establishment of Dallas Center’s newest park, Heritage Park, and its outdoor ice rink, which has become a hub for winter events for residents.
He is currently coordinating efforts to add amenities to the Dallas Center Swimming Pool that will increase use of the attraction. These projects will continue to impact the community long after Bob “retires” from his volunteer duties.
Bob is the president and key facilitator of the Sustaining Active Independent Living in Dallas Center (SAIL-DC) program. Under Bob’s leadership, 8 SAIL-DC volunteers (including himself) provide homebound individuals nearly 150 trips annually to medical appointments, the grocery store, and other locations integral to their well-being, allowing residents to stay independent in their homes.
These volunteer visits provide homebound individuals much needed socialization to help curb the negative impacts of isolation. In recent years, the program has expanded provide snow removal services. Using students at the local middle school during the week and community volunteers on the weekend, Bob leads the charge, shoveling and snow blowing driveways and sidewalks to prevent injury among those that are ill, frail, or disabled.
Bob regularly serves the city of Dallas Center as a volunteer grant writer. He spends a great deal of time completing intensive grant applications, hunting down key facts and figures needed for the applications, and organizing community efforts to raise matching funds used to demonstrate community support to funders. Through Bob’s grant writing efforts, the City of Dallas Center has received over $250,000 to create parks, enhance play equipment at existing parks, and install accessible trailways.
In addition to his involvement with the City, Bob coordinates the Meals on Wheels program for Dallas Center, and has served on the Dallas Center Rotary, Parks & Recreation Board, Dallas Center Betterment Foundation, and the Dallas Center Fall Festival Committee. Bob’s incredible impact on his community led him to receive the Healthiest State Individual Award in 2020. March 11, 2022 was declared as Bob King Appreciation Day in Dallas Center.
The Lamberti Family, Ankeny
Many know Don Lamberti as the founder and longtime chairman/CEO of Casey’s General Stores, Inc., which began in 1968 as a general store in Boone, Iowa. Casey’s has grown to encompass a 16-state market area and employs over 43,000 people. This is quite a legacy itself, but the Lamberti family has also demonstrated extraordinary leadership in supporting several greater Des Moines and Iowa non-profit organizations through volunteerism and philanthropy.
The Lambertis are truly visionary entrepreneurs and have many philanthropic and volunteer interests. In Don’s words, “There’s always a need, so we try to fulfill those needs the best we can. That’s why we keep getting involved.” Two specific examples of the Lamberti involvement in supporting the creation of important not-for-profits organizations which have led to long-term solutions include On With Life and Bridges, Inc.
"I just want to get on with my life." The young man who said that over 30 years ago was one of a small group of families appealing to the community for an inpatient center dedicated specifically to the needs of persons with brain injury after they were able to leave the hospital. When the city of Ankeny offered to issue $4 million in municipal bonds to build such a center, Don and Charlene Lamberti personally guaranteed that the required matching funds would be raised. On With Life's Post-Acute Inpatient program opened in 1991, with Don serving as a founding board member.
Over the years, the Lambertis have continued their support for the organization. In addition, they have created a family legacy of support for the community and for helping those in need. After serving on multiple On With Life boards for 29 years, Don and Charlene’s son Jeff recently chaired his last meeting as President of the Foundation Board. Jeff’s daughter, Meredith Lamberti, is now a board member for On With Life.
In 1999, Don and Charlene Lamberti founded Bridges of Iowa to help those struggling with substance use, encouraged by their son Anthony as he began his own recovery journey. Bridges of Iowa collaborates with Polk County and the Polk County Sheriff in a shared goal of reducing recidivism in our community and successfully helping those living with substance use disorders. The community-based program takes a long view of addiction recovery to rebuild and reconnect. The family legacy continues for this organization as well, with Jeff currently serving as Board Chair.
In addition to founding two transformational nonprofits, the Lamberti Family has made a significant impact in Central Iowa and across the state. Among other distinctions, Don has served on Mid-Iowa Council’s executive board, helped found Keep Iowa Beautiful with Governor Robert D. Ray, and is an active supporter of St. Vincent de Paul. The Lambertis established the Donald F. and Charlene K. Lamberti Center for Rural Entrepreneurship at Buena Vista University in 2018. Jeff is a director of the DMACC Foundation Board, a member of Iowa State and Polk County Bar Association, Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Catholic Church and Knights of Columbus. A lifelong race fan, Don is a founding member and past treasurer of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum, a facility he envisioned and was instrumental in seeing to fruition.
The Lambertis preach to develop a culture of “we rather than me.” They tell others: “Pay it forward. Remember who has helped you along the way and be generous with your time and talents.” Many, many people and organizations are better off with the wisdom, connections and support of the Lamberti family.
Glen Umbaugh, Alleman
When he retired as an agronomist from a Pioneer in 2015, Glen Umbaugh knew he wanted to get more involved in service related to food scarcity. What no one could have anticipated is how involved. Starting with donating produce from his garden, Glen now supports not one but several area organizations working on food security on a daily, weekly, and seasonal basis. All of these organizations have come to see Glen as an indispensable asset to their work and impact. Glen is well respected throughout the communities of Story and Polk counties for being the “go-to-person” for getting things done, especially within the food insecurity non-profits and environment related organizations.
When Glen retired, he had a notion to start up his family’s vegetable garden again, “with the primary benefactors being the bees, the birds and the butterflies.” Glen made a plan to donate excess produce from the garden to local food pantries. Since 2015, the garden has produced around 300 pounds of sweet peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini for the pantries.
He didn’t stop there. “Once I had some additional time on my hands, it just seemed like a natural extension to volunteer time to the food pantries, and other service organizations,” said Glen. “I was really fortunate to have some early exposure to local food rescue efforts in the area, so I’ve always tried to apply that experience along with my background to advocate for the pantries and their needs.”
Serving with IMPACT Community Action Partnership, Glen has provided over 1,480 hours of volunteer service in less than three years, providing critical assistance to families in the community who need an emergency food supply. On a weekly basis, he gives an estimated three shifts or eight hours of his time; an estimated total dollar value of $44,310 for this time. He stocks and organizes food at two IMPACT food pantry sites (Ankeny and Des Moines’ Drake Neighborhood) and for the Mid-Iowa Community Action Story County Food Pantry in Ames. For two years, during the pandemic, he delivered food packages to homes in the Des Moines metro area for IMPACT, ensuring families who need food assistance could easily and safely receive their monthly order.
Glen has been volunteering with Eat Greater Des Moines since August 2022 and has been a wonderful asset to this non-profit organization which relies on volunteers to gather extra food from convenience stores, grocery stores and wholesalers. Every week, Glen picks up food donations from two locations and delivers them to partners working to feed people in our community. He has completed over 43 rescues and has helped recover over 1,400 pounds of food from the landfill since his start with the non-profit food rescue organization.
Glen also spends two days out of the week at the Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) office in Ames and does any task that’s needed, from rescue to restocking. When they think he has done more than enough giving his time, he also makes monetary donations to the food pantry. Glen has volunteered a total of 648.5 hours, an estimated total dollar value of $19,455 for this time.
Since 2020, Glen has volunteered over 300 hours at Reiman Gardens in Ames. In 2022, he was one of the most prolific volunteers, donating 170 hours of time and energy to the organization, an estimated total dollar value of $5,100 for this time. Glen makes time for volunteering a few days each week and helps in all kinds of ways- a docent in the butterfly pavilion, washing pots in the winter and sorting fresh produce for donation in the summer. Naturally, Glen then delivers that produce to MICA’s Story County Food Pantry in Ames.
Glen recently started volunteering with the City of Alleman’s Betterment Committee, which needed to find funding sources that used grants and community involvement. When Glen’s wife Debbie suggested a pop can drive, the Betterment Committee loved it as a way to generate revenue with citizen can donations. They really loved it when Glen offered to maintain the project for the committee. Every afternoon, Glen stops by the return box in heart of the town and gathers cans for the Betterment Committee and redeems them.
When asked what has made him so passionate about tackling food insecurity, Glen stated, “I’m not exactly sure why I focus on food insecurity, other than I’ve never understood how kids in our country could be underfed. That breaks my heart, so if there’s a chance to contribute in even a small way, it really feels great.” Glen’s “small” contributions have added up in a huge way, contributing to a shared vision and synergy among the organizations he serves. A recurring theme in his nomination was consistency and quality of service- Glen simply keeps showing up, week after week, and does what is needed. The needs in Central Iowa are great, and so is Glen’s determination to help however, and wherever he can.
Photos from the 2022 Volunteer Iowa Awards ceremony can be viewed on our Flickr page.