Volunteer Hall of Fame
Photos from the 2022 Volunteer Iowa Awards ceremony can be viewed HERE.
The 2022 Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductees:
Tabinda Cheema, Davenport
Tabinda Cheema is the backbone of volunteerism that occurs not only within her faith-based community but into the wider community as well. Tabinda serves to improve social conditions that are brought on by food insecurity and income disparity, both as a cook at Churches United and as volunteer at the Bettendorf Food Pantry. She also serves on the board for Crop Hunger Walk QC, where she collects donations, rallies community members to participate in the walk, and has raised tens of thousands of dollars to fight hunger locally and globally.
Tabinda is currently serving with World Relief Quad Cities to rally the community and her mosque in welcoming and supporting refugee Afghan and Iraqi families being resettled in the area. As an immigrant herself, Tabinda can relate to newly arrived individuals and families, and helps them understand US cultures and customs, while honoring their cultural backgrounds and practices. She helped World Relief welcome refugees by providing prayer rugs, the Quran, Halal meat and culturally appropriate clothing. She has taken families grocery shopping, and even set up a clothing store of sorts in her garage, filled with donated clothing items available for newly resettled families to “shop” for what they need. She has made calls to find needed items for families, be it a washing machine, school supplies, or kids bicycles.
Once Tabinda is alerted to a need, she does not stop until she has done something to resolve it. Sometimes that means driving in icy conditions to buy diapers or deliver food. It can mean taking the coat off her own back to give to a stranger. It means finding a way to get a utility bill paid before an account is in arrears, even if that means paying out of her own pocket. Tabinda is also instilling the importance of volunteering within her own family. Often she engages her children to assist at events or organizing and packing items at the food pantry.
Tabinda gives endlessly of her time. She never says that she is too busy. Every day, she does something somewhere for others. As her nominator states, “Tabinda’s goal in life is simply to help others and make them feel welcome. She does this regularly by bridging the gap for newly arrived immigrants, the Quad Cities Muslim community, and the wider community.”
Greg Fier, Clinton
Greg Fier has overcome the adversity of total quadriplegia due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) to become an incredibly productive service leader as well as an advocate and inspiration for others with MS and other disabilities. As his physical abilities steadily dwindled from MS, his determination to serve his community grew. He focuses his creative talents, communication skills and technical learning ability to contribute to the community in many ways.
Greg began his advocacy work when he joined the Clinton, Iowa, MS Support group. Soon state and local politicians and leaders got to know Greg, who taught them about the many issues that people with MS and various disabilities face. Greg became one of the main organizers of the MS’issippi Walk-n-Roll, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the National MS Society since 2013.
Years ago, Greg made it his personal mission to provide hands-free technology and technical assistance for a local musician who had been diagnosed with MS. Greg spearheaded a fundraising project to cover the costs for this one individual. Greg then engaged friends, families, and the local MS support group to establish a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide individuals living with MS support and resources to remain independent in their own homes. The Bob Finch Memorial Fund has contributed over $40,000 to cover the cost of projects that span from installing stairway lifts and hardwood floors to fully remodeling bathrooms and purchasing vans.
Greg remains a dedicated advocate for people with disabilities, participating with local, state, and national advocacy groups. Much of Greg’s advocacy has centered on caregiver support, focusing on residential caregivers being fairly compensated and treated with respect and flexibility. Greg’s refusal to give up when the need is real is one of his outstanding character traits.
Greg’s extraordinary creative and collaborative talents have allowed him to serve in ways that few others can. It’s tempting to ignore Greg’s disability in judging his accomplishments, which are extraordinary on their own. He would be the first to say that the technology he uses makes what he does easy and anyone who wants to can do anything he does. In fact, it’s his mission to help others do everything they can and want to do.
Because Greg focuses on life’s commonalities and service to others, people see him as a friend and an inspiration. He doesn’t cover up the hard reality that he faces, but he counters it with a warmth that draws people in and makes others feel that they too can accomplish good things and have fun while they’re at it. Most importantly, his openness about his condition and living a full life addresses the emotional condition of many people with severe disabilities, providing them with hope. He sees a future where people with disabilities are welcomed for their contributions to society and not seen as burdens to it. Greg demonstrates that no matter what cards you’re dealt, life is what you make it.
Greg is dedicating his award to his caregivers and all home and community-based caregivers who give so much of themselves. As he states, “I hope that my ability to volunteer shines as a testament to how keeping disabled and elderly folks in their homes and communities instead of institutions is better for all of us.”
Herbert Hazewinkel Jr., Peosta
After retiring from an engineering career at John Deere Dubuque Works, Herb Hazewinkel started volunteering with the Dubuque County Conservation Board (DCCB). Herb’s background makes him an invaluable volunteer, and he has spent more than 2,000 hours over the past five years designing and building various elements in Dubuque County’s parks to make the parks safer and more inclusive for all users.
Some highlights of the various projects Herb has spearheaded include rebuilding over 15 bridges to make them wider with safety railings. He has also developed systems using mapping and numbering of the bridge structures to make it easier for emergency management to locate and assist injured park users. Herb has created trail signs to mark trails, points of interest or points of concern. Herb is also creative and helpful at finding ways of attracting tourism to Dubuque County parks and areas by creating things like selfie stations, sasquatches, and tent platforms.
Herb understands the value of a strong volunteer program and has worked with the Dubuque County Conservation Board to develop systems to encourage volunteer engagement, resulting in an increase from 100 to over 700 volunteers in just five years. These volunteers are from community businesses, organizations, charitable groups, and school groups. This attention to detail and problem solving has helped saved the staff thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of their time.
Herb also assists the Dubuque County Conservation Board with Iowa Workforce Development high school student groups. He shares with students how to design a bridge plan, use hand tools, and construct projects. Every summer Herb spends a week or two teaching high school students some component of construction that usually involves making a trail safer, by installing bridge railings or making an observation deck. He assisted with the creation of a volunteer trailer completely outfitted with hand tools, safety equipment, and resting area, allowing the staff to lead large restoration efforts in county parks. The impact of Herb’s work will resonate for decades, both through the projects he created and built and by developing younger volunteers to continue this crucial work.
Herb’s systematic approach to managing and improving park safety and accessibility has inspired staff to look at park management with a more inclusive view. His guidance on design principles is heavily utilized in many park operations daily.
Dr. Steven Meyer, Sioux City
As a young orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Steve Meyer served on a mission trip to mainland China that would dramatically alter his life’s path. Upon his return to Iowa, he called his local pastor to inquire about medical outreach in other impoverished areas of the globe and learned about efforts in East Africa. Steve recruited a handful of people around Siouxland to embark on a short-term medical trip to a remote area of northern Tanzania, where they joined efforts in poverty alleviation. Shortly thereafter, Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM) was born.
During the 25 years since STEMM was first organized, yearly outreach trips have sent healthcare workers from Siouxland to Tanzania, with immeasurable amounts of donated medical supplies. STEMM developed a 100-acre campus in Mbuguni, complete with a farming operation, educational offices, and an orphanage with capacity to care for more than 50 young African children at a time. The campus also operates a feeding program that provides 5,000 hot lunches each day in area schools. Prior to the inception of the school feeding program, the percentage of local kids attending school was 37%. After two years of providing lunch during the school day, they saw attendance jump to 86% and today it is at 100%.
Years later, tangible results of Dr. Meyer’s work are seen through the increase in the number of medical doctors in the Arusha region of Tanzania, who were educated using western medical practices but remain sensitive to local cultures. A scholarship program that provides funding for over 500 students across Tanzania was established to help address educational needs.
Each time Dr. Meyer is in Tanzania he takes time to meet with local pastors as well as village leaders to understand the largest areas for improvement and is consistently reminded of the importance of agriculture and its impact on economic empowerment for the entire region. In response, over half of STEMM’s 100-acre campus is dedicated to farmland, used not only for the campus to be self-sustaining, but as a resource to educate area residents on western farming practices. It generates revenue that is re-invested into the local economy.
Steve and his staff at STEMM have a long history of collaboration with other international organizations and are responsible for the creation of and continued partnerships with other non-governmental organizations in Tanzania. It became crucial to develop relationships with and maintain connections to the Tanzanian government. One of STEMM’s co-founders is a former member of Parliament and is now a high-ranking government official, which is key to the success of an organization like this being able to operate in this part of the world. A few people who were supported through their education by STEMM now serve as elected officials in this area of Tanzania. Dr. Meyer has a great ability to foster these connections and relationships that ensures the sustainability of the organization into the future.
Dr. Meyer continues to serve as president of the organization and is involved with every aspect of its work. It would be impossible to tally up the amount of time he has volunteered over the past quarter century or to measure the impact the work of STEMM has had in this region of Tanzania.
Pam Schoffner, Polk City
Pam Schoffner is a long-time supporter and volunteer for EveryStep, a nonprofit health care and human services organization. For more than 20 years, EveryStep has benefited from Pam's hands-on volunteer work with hospice and grief support programs. Pam has lent her expertise and talents to countless leadership, fundraising, and communication campaigns that have helped propel EveryStep's reach and mission.
Pam began her service with the United Way Volunteer Bureau as a public relations assistant at Camp Sunnyside where she became a member of the public relations committee and served in various capacities for 12 years. She went on to serve on and chair the Volunteer Services Advisory Board. She joined the United Way Board of Directors, served on and chaired the Public Policy Committee, served as a member of the Planning, Allocations and Public Policy Cabinet, connecting with agencies and making determinations of qualifications for funding, and served as a legislative liaison and a member of the Communications Cabinet.
More recently, Pam has focused on one nonprofit entity — EveryStep, where she has made an impact on hundreds as they face life’s changes and challenges. Pam provides companionship to hospice patients at EveryStep’s Kavanagh House, reducing isolation and increasing positive social interactions for hospice patients and their families. She also serves as an ambassador for the organization; advocating with legislators for EveryStep’s mission to ensure Iowans have access to free and low-cost health care and social services. She continually leverages her influence on social media to share information about EveryStep’s nonprofit care and support programs, helping people access the services they may need. With many people struggling to find support for their grief and loss during the pandemic, Pam’s continued volunteer work with EveryStep’s Amanda the Panda program included facilitating online grief support groups and camps – safe spaces for people to share their experiences and work toward healing.
Pam has a long history of educating people – especially women – as they strengthen their skills, achieve self-sufficiency, and improve their employability. She has taught start-up marketing workshops for SCORE at adult education. As one of the original members of the Central Iowa Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), she has served as its president and in other board leadership and communication roles. She helped plan and market its annual “Women Mean Business” Summit and represented the chapter in coordinating regional NAWBO Midwestern retreats for WBOs. Her efforts raised $5,000 to give NAWBO a judges’ seat for the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference (IWLC) “Invest in She” program, which helps women entrepreneurs expand their businesses. Pam recruited WBOs to discuss success strategies and evaluate the business plans of clients with the Institute of Social & Economic Development (ISED) Women’s Development Center.
Pam not only gives generously of her time, but also donates considerable dollars by offering her services through P.S. Writes to the organization at a greatly reduced rate. As a fellow volunteer puts it, “Whatever she can do, and whatever needs to be done, is what Pam will gladly do – and with a smile. She is unquestionably EveryStep’s most valuable asset.”
Edna Schrandt, Decorah
A lifelong Decorah resident, Edna Schrandt has volunteered for over 50 years for many programs serving Winneshiek County, including 4-H, Camp Sunnyside, the United Way, the Winneshiek County Fair Board, St. Benedict’s Church, and Catholic Daughters. At 89, Edna continues to share her passion for service, accessibility, and youth engagement, lending her formidable talent for fundraising and finding partners to expand opportunities for her community.
Edna began her service with Camp Sunnyside in Des Moines, quickly becoming a top fundraiser for the Pony Express Riders of Iowa and the Winneshiek Saddle Club. Edna has led fundraising efforts in Decorah for the camp for decades, organizing the annual benefit, involving local media and partners, and spreading the word about the camp’s mission to serve youth with disabilities.
Edna served on the Winneshiek Fair Board for 26 years, and later as the fair manager. In addition, Edna spent countless volunteer hours finding grants to make the fairgrounds more accessible and establishing several fundraising events for the fair. Edna secured sponsorship money to cover the cost of events at the fair to ensure that the youth of the county were able to participate. The funds raised were used towards more entertainment, more contests for residents to be involved in, and facility upgrades to better showcase youth projects. It is estimated that she has raised approximately $1 million.
Edna has been involved with 4-H since her girls participated in the 1970s, as a club leader and then on the county youth committee. She is a member of the board for Pine Bluff, the county 4-H camp, and has been treasurer since 1991.
Edna has received several awards in recognition of her contributions to Winneshiek County. Her lifelong innovation, drive, and passion for service has benefited her community in countless ways. As her nominator, Barbara Thayer puts it, “Edna’s volunteer service is extraordinary because of the variety of ways she volunteers in the community. It isn’t just one organization. It isn’t just one kind of contribution. She serves her community in any way necessary to help better individuals, not-for-profits, and the entire city and county.”
Tom Townsend, Dubuque
Tom Townsend has served with the Dubuque Area Labor Harvest (DALH), which serves low-income and older adults, for more than 11 years. Starting as a volunteer packing and serving meals, Tom increased his responsibilities to serve as the organizational lead with the executive committee and Board of Directors. Tom’s leadership at the DALH and his participation in the community’s food scarcity coalition has answered an ongoing community need and set the tone for collaboration across various food providers.
Tom has sat on the United Way Board of Directors for the last 10 years, most recently as Board Chair. Tom has implemented and organized fundraisers for the DALH, including numerous Burger Nights each year and an annual golf outing that grossed a record amount last summer. Tom has attended United Way’s Day on the Hill in person to help speak with legislators about the importance of local issues United Way supports.
Tom has expanded his role and the impact of DALH while continuing to keep the mission to serve low-income and older adults central to his service. As his nominator Danielle Peterson states, “Tom delivers many food boxes on his own each week and goes above and beyond to ensure our community members see a friendly face, do not feel judged for having a food need, and that they have other resources should they need them.” His volunteer duties range from direct service and volunteer engagement to building partnerships and seeking and reporting on grant funding. As a result of Tom’s leadership, DALH is partnering with the Dubuque area’s Homeless Hotline to take requests for food deliveries, as well as building partnerships to reduce food waste. Over the past year, over 23,000 people in Dubuque County have received food through the DALH, an incredible increase from the year prior.When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Tom immediately saw the need and increased the support offered to our community from the DALH, which clearly involved increasing his volunteer hours for the organization. He has carried this through for nearly two years and is one of the local food scarcity leaders, working with other local food providers, solidifying their collaborative efforts. He has engaged his family and numerous friends and business partners to also support the food needs related to Dubuque Area Labor Harvest. A food recipient was quoted as saying “Without the generosity of the Dubuque Area Labor Harvest, I am not sure how we would have survived the pandemic.”
VaxDSM Project, Des Moines
On August 7, 2021, the Des Moines Register reported that the rate of vaccination for COVID-19 in Polk County was 52.5%. African American and Hispanic/Latino were estimated to be even lower than that. To answer the call for increased vaccination, a collaborative effort formed between the Corinthian Baptist Church, Strategic America, United Way, AmeriCorps VISTA, Des Moines Public Schools, and MercyOne of Iowa to develop effective health messaging and deliver free vaccines for marginalized groups and vaccine-hesitant populations in Polk County. The result of this effort, the VaxDSM Project, began in September 2021 and has resulted in the delivery of five grass-roots vaccination clinics, serving over 500 individuals, adults and children. Thirty-nine volunteers helped with clinic operations. VaxDSM has since expanded its outreach, co-sponsoring a vaccination clinic with a Latinx congregation, New Dawn Ministries, and sharing strategies and lessons for success with members of the Filipino American Society of lowa.
Described as “a happy, welcoming group of good listeners and hearty doers,” the VaxDSM planning team rallied the marketing tutelage from Strategic America, creating an exciting brand, design and message: "VaxDSM, We Can Live With This." The marketing began with website development, hand card distribution and t-shirts picturing the needle and the tagline. Everything bloomed all over-- team members were part of Facebook posts, podcasts, radio interviews, PSAs, billboards, and churchyard signs. The team recruited 57 faith-based volunteers to help dismantle myths and misinformation about vaccination. VaxDSM is currently working with 10 congregations as a trusted body of vaccine advocates. From thoughtful and place-based marketing, volunteer engagement, and sharing resources and information, VaxDSM has developed an effective and committed coalition for critical public health messaging and services. Currently, the team’s AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer is working with the United Way volunteer staff in developing a Vaccination Hesitation Survey to better assess the level of hesitation remaining in areas with low vaccination rates. To date, 137 participated in the survey.
Overall, VaxDSM's community and faith-based efforts have assisted Polk County in surpassing its goal of 70% of residents with at least one vaccination dose and cheerleading marginalized groups beyond vaccine hesitance to similar and worthy goal achievement. Vaccination rates have increased for both Latino/Hispanics (69.7%) and African Americans (54.4%). This level of collaboration and multi- marketing strategy helped Polk County to literally “move the needle.” According to the Health Department’s recent report, dated February 28,2022, the year opened with a great deal of hope, and Polk County is now at a 76% one dose vaccination rate, successfully exceeding its own goal.
Kathy Waychoff, Fairfax
Kathy Waychoff’s volunteer career began as a parent volunteer at College Community Schools and developed into one of Eastern Iowa’s biggest advocates for volunteerism. As a volunteer leader in many organizations, she has mentored both students and adults as they serve the community and become leaders themselves. Her involvement in Key Club, Gems of Hope, Leaders in Volunteerism, Catherine McAuley Center, Especially for You, the Prairie Foundation and many other organizations, where she has served as a volunteer and often as a board member, demonstrates her generosity of time that focuses on supporting people first.
Kathy served as the District Volunteer Coordinator for College Community Schools for 16 years. During her tenure, she initiated the first Key Club at Prairie High School which introduced many high school students to the importance and fulfillment of volunteering in the community. Over the years, Kathy facilitated projects that connected teenagers to local community organizations such as The Catherine McAuley Center, where they make blankets for women, children and refugees, and Families Helping Families, which serves foster families in the area. Kathy also guided students to think globally and support organizations across the world. Most notably they raised enough money for The Thirst Project to build a well at the Sikayne School in Swaziland, Africa. Many of these students continue to volunteer with the same organizations as well as serve in leadership positions in volunteer organizations at their colleges and universities and beyond.
As the District Volunteer Coordinator, Kathy built a culture of volunteerism and support with the students, parents and community for a school district serving over 5,800 students, at an estimated value of $180,000 each year. Her expertise in organizing and bringing people together for projects is only half of her commitment, because she is always right there working alongside volunteers on every project.
Kathy has served on the boards of Gems of Hope, the Metro America Reads Committee, Kiwanis, Fairfax Public Library, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Especially for You Race Against Breast Cancer, the National Council on Youth Leadership, Fairfax American Legion, and is a dedicated organizer of the Governor’s Volunteer Awards for Eastern Iowa. Her involvement in so many prominent community organizations in the area has forged connections and built relationships between groups that might not otherwise see their common purpose. Her connections have allowed events that she spearheads, such as America Reads and the Governor’s Volunteer Awards ceremony, to become true community events involving people from across a broad spectrum of organizations. Her relationships with leaders at United Way and Junior Achievement bring in classroom volunteers from all over Eastern Iowa.
For information on the Excellence in Mentoring award winners, visit the Iowa MENTOR website.
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 185 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.
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