Iowa's Top Volunteers Honored: People's Choice Award Winner Named
Front row, left to right: Pamela Wolter, Dr. James Bell, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, Harry Swanson, Terry Swanson
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2018
Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame
Jody Benz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Iowa Mentoring Partnership
Mary Sheka, email@example.com
IOWA’S TOP VOLUNTEERS HONORED
Ceremony held April 17 in Capitol during National Volunteer Week
April 17, 2018 (Des Moines, Iowa) — As part of National Volunteer Week celebration activities across the country, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg inducted four new members into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame and presented Excellence in Mentoring awards to two 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 2018 Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame inductees include:
- Dr. James Bell, Cedar Rapids
- Deverie Kiedaisch, Keokuk
- Harry and Terry Swanson, Clive
- Pamela Wolter, Denver
In addition, during the month of March, 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 3,100 votes were cast; Dr. James Bell was announced the winner during the ceremony.
The recipients of the 2018 Excellence in Mentoring Award are:
- Eric Spriet, Quad Cities (Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley)
- Edi Norris Shenandoah (M.A.Y. Mentoring)
About Volunteer Iowa (or Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service)
Volunteer Iowa and its partner agencies work with organizations and individuals on three main fronts. The first is to help agencies develop quality programs that use service as a strategy to fulfill their missions and address Iowa’s greatest areas of need. The second is to help engage Iowans in their communities by promoting service and expanding the volunteer base. Finally, the third area of work is to connect individuals with appropriate service opportunities by building the volunteer infrastructure. More information is available at volunteeriowa.org.
About Iowa Mentoring Partnership
The Iowa Mentoring Partnership (IMP) serves as the certifying body for youth mentoring programs in Iowa, advancing the quality of the mentoring field by providing professional development; engaging stakeholders to increase the number of mentors; and creating awareness of the positive benefits of youth mentoring as a proven youth development strategy. IMP is a collaborative program of Volunteer Iowa and works to build relationships between government, private, and public agencies in support of youth mentoring which is essential for strengthening families, communities and the state of Iowa. More information is available at iowamentoring.org.
2018 Excellence in Mentoring Award Winners
Eric Spriet of the Quad Cities has devoted his time to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley in Davenport Iowa for the past three years. He is matched with a boy named Ayden who had been on a waiting list for seven months.
Life experiences made it difficult for Ayden to trust men, and his mother hoped that a Big Brother would help change that. Since being matched with Eric, he has developed an improved sense of self-esteem and patience. He has learned to trust again, and is an extremely generous and kind boy.
Eric and Ayden are grateful that they were matched and will be able to maintain a formal match relationship until Ayden graduates from high school. Both know that their friendship will continue far beyond that timeframe and the mentoring program.
Edi Norris of Shenandoah, together with her husband Bob until he passed away in 2016, mentored several young people over the course of nearly 20 years through M.A.Y. Mentoring. Edi continues their tradition to this day.
She ensures her mentees’ academic success by helping them read, and by incorporating games that involve memory, spelling, matching, and vocabulary to help them learn and have fun at the same time.
Edi believes in teaching her mentees to be well-rounded people and encourages them to be active in extracurricular activities and community service projects.
She leads by example, encouraging others to become involved and providing support to other mentors. Her willingness to give of herself in terms of time and energy has had a profound impact on her mentees and her community.
2018 Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductees
Dr. James Bell from Cedar Rapids founded His Hands Free Clinic over 25 years ago; since then more than 10,000 people have received health care who would not have been able to obtain care otherwise.
Over the years, Dr. Bell has spent a significant amount of time recruiting and coordinating volunteers, as well as securing support, supplies, and office space. The clinic started small, but has continued to grow and expand services, all under his direction and through his ability to form connections with area hospitals and physicians.
His dedication has saved the local medical community hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary emergency room visits. His lifetime commitment to providing health care to those in need has made a huge impact on the health of area patients and their families.
Deverie Kiedaisch of Keokuk has devoted her time and talents to causes such as education, literacy, poverty, and equal rights/equal pay for women and minorities for more than 45 years.
A recipient of numerous local volunteer recognition awards, Dev has been involved in establishing and growing countless volunteer programs, as well as supporting the nonprofits which manage them. She often works tirelessly behind the scenes without recognition; devoting her time to causes that are important to her. It is her personal mission to improve the quality of life in Keokuk for all.
She exemplifies how one person can truly make a difference in their community. Her vision for establishing a permanent volunteer center, expanding volunteer opportunities, and increasing volunteerism will have a lasting impact on the community for years to come.
Harry and Terry Swanson from Clive while volunteering at a domestic abuse shelter, witnessed firsthand that women usually leave their abusive situations with literally only the clothes on their backs.
The lack of household goods and furniture presented an enormous barrier for families transitioning to living independently in a new and safe environment. Recognizing the need, they helped found the FreeStore to provide free household items and furniture to women and families who are referred by domestic violence services or social agencies.
The Swansons have been involved in every aspect of the FreeStore, nurturing it from a storage room in their church into a nonprofit corporation with an annual budget of around $100,000, two warehouse facilities, and a reputation for delivering quality materials to those in need.
Pamela Wolter of Denver a dedicated volunteer and community member for the past three decades, exemplifies what it means to be a proactive and engaged citizen. Her actions, leadership, and expertise have created numerous projects that give others an opportunity to learn and participate.
Her ability to build networks of committed citizens and organizations that magnify impact, develops buy-in that allows her to step away from the projects at some point with an ability for them to continue without her.
She is responsible for establishing boards and events that are still making an impact today. All are fantastic examples of what is possible when community members are driven by a call to action from a local leader who knows how to bring people together to create change for the things that matter most.