Volunteer Hall of Fame
NOTE: Information about the 2021 Volunteer Hall of Fame will be coming soon.
The 2020 Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductees:
Dr. Jeffrey Akey DDS, Hiawatha
Dr. Jeffrey Akey started the Dental Program at His Hands Free Clinic in February of 2010 and continues to serve as the Director of the Dental Program at the clinic. He served on the Board of Directors of His Hands for 6 years. His efforts have provided over $100,000 of free dental care to over 1,600 patients since 2012. Dr. Akey has made it possible for uninsured patients to receive needed dental care.
Dr. Akey has made presentations to the Linn County Dental Society and worked with local dentists to obtain supplies and volunteers. In his efforts he has recruited many local dentists to help in providing services here at the clinic, which includes seeing patients at the clinic, in their own offices, and sharing dental supplies. He also brought about a partnership with DPS (Dental Prosthetic Services) where they provide acrylic partial dentures to replace missing teeth to our patients at no charge.
Because of Dr. Akey’s vision, giving of his time and talents and follow through, over 1,600 patients received dental care that otherwise they may not have gotten. His vision has also provided numerous other dental professionals the opportunity to serve those without adequate resources. Dr. Akey remains completely involved; from serving as Dental Director to providing dental care to those uninsured in our community. Dr. Akey has quietly and consistently been a force for good, person by person, for years.
Boone Hope Foundation, Boone
The Boone Hope Foundation was organized in 2005 after Boone School District staff attended an in-service on poverty. District administration informed the staff that some Boone students were beginning to experience homelessness and families were going hungry over the weekend when school lunch was not provided. Four teachers met and organized what was to be a one-time fundraiser to help families with children attending all Boone Schools. The four spent hours volunteering to organize the event and the community responded with overwhelming financial support. What was an idea to do something small became a huge event and within months, the Boone Hope Foundation was formed to provide financial assistance for students and their families in time of need. In the fifteen years since the start of the Boone Hope Foundation, nearly $700,000 has been raised. Over 100 current and retired school educators and staff volunteer for the foundation each year. The foundation is entirely managed by volunteers and there is no other organization like it in the country.
Like many communities, Boone faces poverty and few external resources. Once a group of volunteers banded together to try to help, morale changes occurred with everyone involved. The foundation tackled the completely new idea of giving immediate financial assistance to a family with school aged children in the district. There are no applications to submit, no repayment for assistance and help is immediate (within 24 hours).
The Boone Hope Foundation provides assistance to families at times when they often have a feeling of hopelessness. A student cannot be successful if they are worried about where they are going to be living if their family is evicted, how they are going to pay their bill for medical tests or if the electricity will be shut off when they get home that night. Some families live paycheck to paycheck, and a medical crisis or disaster such as fire or tornado can immediately cripple a family who was able to meet all financial obligations beforehand. These were the situations considered when organizing the mission for the Boone Hope Foundation.
The Boone Hope Foundation has provided a positive and unique format to help students and their families when they have a specific need. Stopping at “there has to be a better way” and moving on to “let’s find a better way” has been an invigorating, humbling and unifying challenge for the community of Boone.
Gary Lawson, West Des Moines
Gary Lawson, as President of the Connect Foundation, developed the Iowa Juneteenth Observance in 1990, encompassing a statewide scope of programming that focused on educational activities related to freedom, liberty and responsible citizenship, and promoted economic, political and social development. Juneteenth is an international celebration of the end to slavery in America. Lawson spearheaded the passage of legislation, signed into law by Governor Tom Vilsack on April 11, 2002, designating the third Saturday in June as the official annual observance of Juneteenth in Iowa. As part of the Iowa Junteenth Celebration, in 2006-07 Lawson led a massive collaborative education endeavor to educate the greater Iowa community about the cultural significance of Juneteenth. In conjunction with the Des Moines NAACP, Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Iowa Department of Education and the State Library Iowa of Iowa, the Iowa Juneteenth Observance Book Project was created and distributed over 600 books in public libraries within all of Iowa’s 99 counties.
Lawson also founded the Iowa African American Hall of Fame (IAAHF) in 1995. The IAAHF recognizes African Americans who have significantly contributed to the quality of life in Iowa and served as role models for Iowa youth. In 2002, Lawson pursued a permanent home for the IAAHF, and entered into an agreement with officials at Iowa State University to house the IAAHF at the Black Culture Center at Iowa State University in 2002. More than 75 individuals have been inducted into the Iowa African American Hall of Fame to date.
In addition, Lawson co-developed the George Washington Carver Leadership Academy in 2005, as a Division of the Iowa African American Hall of Fame. The Academy worked with a diverse population of urban high school seniors and college students via a leadership development agenda focusing on character, human relations, and civic participation with the goal being the development of outstanding individuals who will make a contribution to the quality of life of all citizens.
Gary has spent countless hours organizing business and community groups, activities and fundraising to make Juneteenth and affiliated activities successful year after year.
Deb Pulver, West Des Moines
Deb Pulver has a long history of being an active volunteer in the state of Iowa through numerous organizations and charities, both as an individual and alongside her family. However, after her own diagnosis and successful triumph over breast cancer, she forged a new path forward that would help women in financial need during their own cancer struggles. In 2011, she started with an idea and a goal. She leveraged personal and professional connections to form Strands of Strength, to serve woman across the entire state.
In 2014, an eastern Iowa chapter was formed. She also recognized that the hours it takes to launch a program of this magnitude would take another village. Deb has spent the past six years mentoring and guiding the eastern Iowa chapter as they spread the mission and wigs to more Iowa women.
For Strands of Strength (SoS) to be successful, Deb recognized that building relationships with medical professionals, salon partners, corporate sponsors and individual donors would be the key to getting the organization off the ground and sustaining it for years to come.
The success of Deb’s hard work and determination with Strands of Strength (SoS) is seen with every heartfelt thank you note she receives, with every surprise donation given and with the continued success of sold-out luncheons. For nine years, she has spearheaded an organization that has not yet had to hire an executive director. She has been hands-on from day one and has overseen every wig donation, hospital partner relationship and partner salon. By limiting the administrative costs through sensible spending and a reliance on partners and volunteers, nearly every dollar donated to SoS goes further in assisting people in need.
Strands of Strength (SoS) was born from the idea that a simple act can work wonders. The thousands of hours spent organizing, the hundreds of handwritten letters, the countless miles driven across the state – all to find a simple way to help women in need. Nearly 2000 wigs have been donated to date.
Warren Van Dyke, Greene
Warren Van Dyke has always believed strongly in supporting his community and church. Warren’s various volunteer activities include assisting with organizing the first and second “Good Old River Days” celebration, serving as both a state director and President of the Iowa Jaycees, starting a Pheasants Forever chapter in Louisa County being part of a group who founded the North Butler Pheasants Forever chapter, and serving as a hunter safety instructor for 13 years.
Warren’s service includes six years on the Greene and North Butler school boards, during a merger period with the two districts. He coached 3rd and 6th grade boys basketball for 9 years. He has been a member of the Greene and Wapello Volunteer Fire Departments, even becoming a certified diver during his time with the Wapello Fire Department.
Mr. Van Dyke’s volunteerism extends to his church, as he has been a trustee for the St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vilmar and assisted with the remodeling project at the church, helping install a new elevator, new carpet and painting. Warren has also traveled to Haiti on four mission trips, to help build Sukup Safe T homes at orphanages.
As if that wasn’t enough, Warren has also been an active member of the Butler County Pork Promoters for over 20 years. The Butler County Pork Promoters makes donations to local food banks and college scholarships. As part of that role, he has donated to flood relief in Greene. After Warren beat cancer following a diagnosis in 2010, he has become an avid supporter of Relay for Life and has raised countless dollars through both the Butler County Pork Promoters and Franklin County Sukup teams.
Warren plans to retire in a couple of years and intends to spend his retirement traveling with his wife Lollie.
Selection for 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 179 Iowans have been honored.
Nomination forms are released each fall and 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.
If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800.308.5987.