Iowa's Top Volunteers Honored - link to photos included!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Photos available online!


April 26, 2017


Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame

Jody Benz,

515.725.3094 / 800.308.5987


Iowa Mentoring Partnership

Mary Sheka,

515.725.3187 / 800.308.5987



Ceremony held April 26 in Capitol during National Volunteer Week

April 26, 2017 (Des Moines, Iowa) — As part of National Volunteer Week celebration activities across the country, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds inducted three new members into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame and presented Excellence in Mentoring awards to five individuals for their dedication and service as mentors and mentor advocates in their communities.

Being selected for the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame is the most prestigious state-level honor volunteers can receive as recognition of extraordinary donations of volunteer service to their communities.  The 2017 Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame inductees include:

  • Dr. Ed Hertko, West Des Moines
  • William “The Grouch” Laubengayer, Coralville
  • Fred Kelly, Burlington

In addition, during the month of April, through social media and the Volunteer Iowa website, the public was invited to submit votes to determine which inductee should receive The People’s Choice Award as extra recognition for their contributions as a volunteer. More than 500 votes were cast; Fred Kelly was announced the winner during the ceremony.

“The commitment of these volunteers—and all volunteers—helps Iowa consistently remain in the top 10 states in the nation for its volunteerism rate,” stated Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. “I am always honored to have an opportunity to personally thank Iowans for donating their time and talent to help their fellow citizens and make a significant difference in our state.”

"Every young person deserves to have someone to turn to, yet there are thousands of Iowa children growing up without a mentor,” said Adam Lounsbury, Executive Director of Volunteer Iowa. “We are proud to honor a few of Iowa's most outstanding mentors, and in addition, hope that we can help build a network for change and challenge more Iowans to volunteer as mentors and support the success of our young people."

The recipients of the 2017 Excellence in Mentoring Award are:

  • Make Bauer, Shenandoah, LNX e-Mentoring
  • Drew Gentsch, Des Moines, Everybody Wins! Iowa
  • Donette Griffin, Blue Grass, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County
  • Buzz Paterson, Storm Lake, STARS Mentoring Program
  • Rose Strickland, Muscatine, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley


Electronic photographs will be available shortly after the ceremony at or by sending a request, including the name of the award recipient, to


2017 Excellence in Mentoring Award Winners

Mike Bauer of Shenandoah has been mentoring through Links to LNX e-Mentoring for 6 years where he has mentored over 10 students. As a member of the Advisory Council he started a mentoring club, MC2, organizing many group activities and community workplace tours. Mike listens to the students’ ideas and facilitates career exploration opportunities to expand their horizons and connect students to the community. Mike has an open-door policy for all his mentees, and they know he is there for them whenever they need him.

Drew Gentsch of Des Moines has been volunteering as a mentor for 13 years with Everybody Wins! Iowa. He has mentored nine students and read with many more. Despite working with a variety of readers at different reading levels, he has helped each child grow in their abilities. Drew was a founding board member of Everybody Wins! Iowa and advocates for young people in his community while engaging his friends and family to volunteer as mentors and supporters as well.

Donette Griffin from Blue Grass, has mentored for 11 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muscatine County. She serves as an advocate for mentoring in her community through public speaking and interviews with the local press about the positive impact of youth mentoring. She hosts an annual cookie social for community members to talk about mentoring and the needs of the community. Her match with her mentee is the longest in the program currently. Donette says, “There were times I questioned whether I was making a difference. Then other times there are tears in my eyes because it’s just the best match.”

Buzz Paterson from Storm Lake has been mentoring with STARS Mentoring Program for 12 years. He has mentored three middle school boys, serves on the advisory board, recruits mentors and helps with fundraising and marketing. Leveraging his position as a radio manager, Buzz shares mentoring stories on air to build community support for the program. In his mentoring relationships, Buzz persists in providing all his mentees with the care and thoughtfulness the youth need to flourish.  His mentees know Buzz will always be there for them.

Rose Strickland from Muscatine has been mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley for 5 years. Rose exudes genuineness, which gives her credibility when talking with others about her match and in articles she has written to encourage mentoring. She has seen her mentee dare to dream of accomplishing things that years ago she would have thought impossible. Early in the match, her middle school mentee would ask if they would still be together in high school. Rose’s response was always, “I am here for you as long as you want me to be with you!”


2017 Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductees

Dr. Ed Hertko from West Des Moines has dedicated his life, and much of his professional and personal time in a volunteer capacity, to help as many Iowans with diabetes as possible live healthier, longer lives. He is responsible for forming the Iowa Diabetes Association and founding Camp Hertko Hollow (Iowa's camp that provides education for young people living with diabetes). 2017 marks the 50 year anniversaries of both organizations. He was instrumental in forming the first Central Iowa Diabetes Outpatient Education Center (CIDEC) and continues to do speaking engagements. He still attends Camp Hertko Hollow as well as serving on its board of directors. His primary goal has always been to educate individuals on how to better manage and control their diabetes. It is fair to say that every diabetic living in Iowa today has in some way, shape or form, benefited from Dr. Hertko's efforts.

William “The Grouch” Laubengayer of Coralville has served over 1,000 hours each year for more than 20 years. He has taught more home-owners and volunteers how to build a Habitat for Humanity home than any other volunteer. Despite his self-proclaimed nickname, everyone loves to work alongside him. He believes in building high-quality homes, above codes and permitting, and investing in sustainable and energy-efficient materials. Because of his input, direction, and leadership, Habitat homes are the most energy-efficient homes built in their four-county region. On average, home-owners save 30% or more on utility costs when they move into the home they helped build (when compared to the property they were renting). He knows that renting families move on average every two years. It means a lot to him to know that children will have increased stability once the parents become homeowners. He says that teaching someone to be self-reliant makes a successful homeowner. 

Fred Kelly from Burlington has presented almost 50 seminars and educational sessions over the years. In the past ten years, Fred has volunteered almost 8,500 hours; in 2016 alone, he served over 1,000 hours. The numbers tell one story, but his contributions reflect his true leadership skills and dedication to support his community. The state SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) office utilizes Fred’s expertise to train all new counselors in Southeast Iowa’s counties. Although his main community is Des Moines County, he has served many customers in 15 other Iowa counties and parts of Illinois. His unwavering passion and involvement with SHIIP has grown his team into a full-time service of nine counselors and seven office assistants. He serves with passion and a high standard of customer service. Fred fulfills his daily volunteer role with compassion, dedication, wisdom, and humor.


Printed from the website on January 28, 2022 at 7:27pm.