Volunteer Hall of Fame
The 2021 Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductees:
Jerry R. Armstrong, West Des Moines
Jerry R. Armstrong was a founding member of Meals from the Heartland and has served on the Board of Directors since 2008. Early in the organization, Armstrong stepped up to serve as Board Chairman, a position he currently holds. Meals from the Heartland was founded to empower people to save starving children. 1 in 5 children in Iowa do not have enough to eat, a statistic that inspires Jerry Armstrong and Meals from the Heartland to commit to the mission of solving childhood hunger.
Meals from the Heartland focuses on building volunteer experiences, educational opportunities, and heart-changing engagements to fight childhood hunger locally and around the world. Meals from the Heartland engages around 30,000 Iowans annually through a number of meal packaging events. To date, the organization has provided more than 165 million meals to the hungry in Iowa and around the world.
Jerry Armstrong has been a tireless advocate for the development and success of Meals from the Heartland. He has been instrumental in the growth of the organization for more than 10 years. Armstrong has leveraged his professional experience to build the professional brand and marketing of the organization. He was a vital member of the team raising funds and developing plans for the Patty Cownie Packing Center. With the opening of this center, Meals from the Heartland was able to increase its service capacity and is now serving an estimated 385,000 per week.
Jerry Armstrong’s natural networking abilities and commitment to “service over self” have been an invaluable asset to Meals from the Heartland and the people it serves. His time and efforts have been vital to the mission of Meals from the Heartland. As noted by a number of his colleagues, without the work and talents of Jerry Armstrong millions across Iowa and the world would still be struggling with hunger.
Alan Clyde Becker, Fort Atkinson
Alan Clyde Becker has been a leader in archaeological historic preservation for more than 30 years. A retired high school social studies teacher, Becker has a personal and professional commitment to educating others about history. Becker has been an integral part of historic preservation in northeast Iowa and has a deep commitment to partnering with local tribal communities for such preservation projects.
Located in Northeast Iowa, the Neutral Ground was a 200-mile-long and 40-mile-wide swath of land that was home to several thousand members of the Winnebago tribe, now federally recognized as the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the Ho-Chuck Nation. Alan Becker has dedicated countless hours to identify, assess the condition of, and preserve sites related to the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk occupation of Iowa. Becker also had a deep commitment to inviting tribal members to be involved in field visits, community lectures, and providing insight and feedback on numerous projects.
Alan Becker’s commitment to keeping tribal members active in his efforts was highlighted in a 2018 workshop event on Native American presence in Iowa. The event, sponsored by the St. Lucas Historical Society, featured keynote speakers from the Ho-Chunk Nation Office of the President and the Nation’s Cultural Heritage Department. The event hosted over 200 attendees and was made successful because of the work of Alan Becker.
In addition to his commitment to tribal nations, Becker has a made an impact in connecting young children with their community’s history. His leadership on the Fort Atkinson Rendezvous Committee has made history come alive for elementary and middle schoolers. Through a number of events over the past few years, the committee alongside the work of Alan Becker, several thousand students have been able to experience the rich history that the area has to offer.
Becker has held multiple roles in several organizations in the Fort Atkinson area. The organizations benefiting from Becker’s leadership include the Fort Atkinson Preservation Committee, the Fort Atkinson City Museum Committee, and the Friends of Fort Atkinson’s Fort Atkinson Rendezvous Committee. Alan Becker’s passion, time, and commitment over the past 30 years have kept these historical sites alive and thriving.
Bridget D. Reed, Waterloo
Bridget D. Reed is a registered nurse with a deep commitment to patient care. Reed is the founder of the Focus on Diabetes Initiative that seeks to develop community education around the effects and prevention of Diabetes. Reed has used her personal experience to commit to raising awareness for diabetes and increasing patient care.
The Focus on Diabetes Initiative was created to partner with other healthcare organizations to offer hands-on experiences with new diabetes-related technologies. It has grown to be one of the largest healthcare education events in the region, serving over 1000 Iowans. Reed has also used the Focus on Diabetes Initiative as a platform to advocate for healthcare reform and access to quality healthcare. As a registered nurse herself, Reed has a deep dedication to patient care and has used that to empower the mission of this initiative.
Her commitment to her community only grew as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Reed noticed some of her patients struggling to find essential care supplies, such as alcohol wipes. Reed immediately got to work creating what she calls, the Focus on Diabetes COVID-19 Assist Initiative. The initiative was designed to develop diabetes-specific care packages with essential supplies the public may otherwise not had access to. These packages include things such as glucose meters, a 60-day supply of diabetic test strips, a mask, hand sanitizer, and alcohol pads. The packages helped deliver resources to patients in the Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Cedar Rapids areas. The Focus on Diabetes COVID-19 Assist Initiative filled an essential gap in patient care as many doctors’ offices fell behind while restructuring patient care to fit COVID-19 restrictions.
Reed embodies so much of what it means to give back to her community. As noted by a colleague, not a single person would fault her for not doing this work. Reed is a mother of four, a current Master of Public Health student, and a clinic manager. However, Reed still finds time to work towards the betterment of her community. Utilizing her background, resources, and personal commitment to service to make a lasting impact.
Kim Seligman, Muscatine
After the death of her 17-year-old son Matthew from Type 1 diabetes complications in 2004, Kim Seligman has committed herself to a life of advocacy on behalf of those with diabetes. Seligman used her commitment to service and grief to springboard her into being an integral part of a number of important diabetes-related projects.
Seligman has been instrumental in raising over $500,000 for diabetes research. After numerous years of raising money and advocacy, Seligman formed the Muscatine Diabetes Project in 2016. The organization was formed with the mission of providing diabetes education programs, outreach activities, and strengthening partnerships with community health agencies to help fill a gap between patients and providers. To date, the organization has served over 2200 youth in the Muscatine area. She has also been an active board member of Camp Hertko Hollow, a youth diabetes camp in Boone.
Since July 2017, Seligman has been a member of the Lions Club International and currently serves as the 9EC Iowa District Diabetes Chairperson serving Cedar, Clinton, Jackson, Jones, Linn, Muscatine, and Scott counties. Seligman has used her platform to spearhead a number of important initiatives related to diabetes awareness. She was instrumental in bringing the November Diabetes Awareness Month County and participation in the Healthiest State Annual Walk. Seligman is also currently serving as the Host Committee Strides Event Chairperson for the 2021 USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum to be held in Des Moines in September.
Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, Seligman spearheaded the implementation of the Iowa American Diabetes Association Diabetes Busters Program to 3rd-grade students in the Muscatine Community School District. The first 1-hour program focused on nutrition, exercise, and diabetes and served 7 elementary schools and 365 students. This initial program kicked off a series of youth-focused programs across the Muscatine area giving many an opportunity to learn about how health, wellness, and disease prevention from a young age.
As her colleagues have noted, Kim Seligman has always embodied one of her favorite quotes, “There’s joy in the journey as we walk alongside each other.” Seligman has dedicated her time, energy, and passion to educating her community about health, wellness, and diabetes prevention. Her tireless commitment to this cause has aided thousands and will continue to do this work for many years to come.
Mary Taylor, Cedar Falls
From an early age, Mary Taylor had a commitment to service and embodied that spirit until she passed away in October of 2020. Taylor took her talents and time to serve with several organizations focused on the historical preservation, community and cultural pursuits, and economic and people development of the Cedar Valley area.
Taylor devoted countless hours serving the Cedar Falls Community Main Street organization. Taylor served on the Board of Directors, the 30th Anniversary Committee, and was a long-time member of the design committee. As a design committee member Taylor helped preserve the historical look and appeal of the Cedar Falls downtown area by advising prospective and current businesses on how to establish an inviting business while keeping the historic nature alive. In addition to her design work, Taylor was instrumental in the nomination and awarding of the Great American Main Street Award to Cedar Falls in 2002. The downtown area of Cedar Falls would not be in its current state without the countless hours of work Mary Taylor invested in this organization. In addition to this work, Taylor was a founding member of the Cedar Falls Development Group. The group was founded to aid in the preservation of the Cedar Falls Post Office that was in danger of being torn down. With Taylor’s leadership, the group was able to sustain the building, and today it houses a thriving bike shop ideally situated for bikers coming off the bike trails in the area.
In addition to her commitment to the downtown Cedar Falls area, Taylor had a deep commitment to the arts and learning. She devoted her time and talents to a number of area groups that shared the same vision and mission. Taylor was a vital team member for the creation of the Cedar Falls Author’s Festival, a year-long festival dedicated to showcasing five famous authors from the Cedar Falls area. Taylor developed several events highlighting the authors and their connections to the area, including a bus tour of important areas around Cedar Falls that surrounded the lives of these authors. Taylor was also an active volunteer on the Friends of Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center organization. The group was developed to support the activities of the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center at the University of Northern Iowa. Taylor was a creator of several important fundraising events to support the work of the center.
Mary Taylor took every opportunity she had to make her community a better place. She was a life-long volunteer who always pushed others to make a difference in the community. More than 25 community organizations benefited from the hard work and passion of Mary Taylor, and her legacy is visible in so many places around Cedar Falls.
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 six 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 L. 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 Juneteenth 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.
For information on the Excellence in Mentoring award winners, visit the Iowa Mentoring Partnership website.