Volunteer Hall of Fame 2018: People's Choice Award

The public is invited to vote for the honoree they feel should receive the People’s Choice Award as extra recognition for their contributions as a volunteer; the winner will be announced during the Volunteer Hall of Fame ceremony in the Capitol on April 17.

You may vote once per day.  The ballot is located at the end of this page.  The online polling station will remain open through March 31.

About the 2018 Volunteer Hall of Fame Inductees

Dr. James Bell, Cedar Rapids

It all began when Dr. James Bell attended a meeting of the Christian Medical and Dental Society in 1991, where attendees were challenged to return to their communities and do something to provide health care for the poor.  

Through his vision and selfless commitment, he brought together local leaders and healthcare providers to provide support, volunteers, supplies and office space, and founded the Cedar Rapids Free Medical Clinic (known as His Hands Free Clinic) in 1992.  The need for free health care was great and creating a free clinic addressed a serious need at a time when there were no other resources like it in the community.

Once the clinic was established—at the local YMCA—Dr. Bell and his colleagues started treating patients using sheets for walls.  In the first year, 200 patients were seen.  Since that time, more than 10,000 people without health insurance have received care.

Dr. Bell’s connections made it possible for the clinic to grow from providing only medical services to including dental, chiropractic, women’s health, mental health, physical therapy, social work, durable medical equipment, prescription assistance and spiritual care.

His efforts led to the establishment of two separate free clinics in the Cedar Rapids area, which combined see more than 6,000 patients annually.  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 patients and their families.

Deverie Kiedaisch, Keokuk

For more than 45 years, Dev Kiedaisch has devoted her time and talents to causes such as education, literacy, poverty, and equal rights/equal pay for women and minorities.  She is one to act, coordinate, and implement programs that make a difference.  Her vision for increasing volunteerism in the community will impact programming for years to come.

After attending a workshop in Des Moines in 2011 about the importance of promoting volunteerism in your community, Dev dreamed of establishing a volunteer center in Keokuk that would connect people with opportunities to serve.  She was instrumental in bringing together a group of individuals to develop a permanent and sustainable volunteer center.

Dev assisted with the process of formalizing a partnership with United Way and helped write the first Volunteer Generation Fund grant to hire staff.  She served as chair of the Volunteer Center Advisory Committee that developed the volunteer program mission and policies.  To date, the United Way has received nearly $170,000 in Volunteer Generation Fund grants; her initial involvement to help secure this grant has had a lasting impact on expanding volunteer opportunities in the community.

Over the years, Dev has been involved in establishing and growing countless volunteer programs, as well as supporting the nonprofits which manage them.  A small sampling: developing the framework for the Literacy pilot project, which is now a permanent program of the United Way; helping organize KARE – Keokuk Association for Rights and Equality; starting programs to encourage high school and middle school students to volunteer, as well as getting local businesses involved in Keokuk schools.

She often works tirelessly behind the scenes without recognition; devoting her time to causes that are important to her.  She has always been a volunteer and a recruiter of volunteers and lives life by her motto, “service above self”, and mission to improve the quality of life in Keokuk for all. 

Harry and Terry Swanson, Clive

While volunteering at a domestic abuse shelter, Harry and Terry Swanson recognized that women in the shelter had left their abusive situations with literally only the clothes on their backs.  The lack of household goods and furniture hindered the transition of these families from the shelter to living independently in a new and safe environment.

Recognizing the great need, Harry and Terry helped found the FreeStore in 2001 as an outreach of their church.  The FreeStore provides household items and furniture free of charge to families (primarily women) who are referred by Iowa domestic violence services and other social agencies.

Between 250 and 300 families are served each year in the Des Moines metro area and Story, Boone and Marshall counties.  Last year, the FreeStore delivered over 200 tons of furniture and household goods worth approximately $433,000.  From 2011 through 2016, the FreeStore served 1,400 families, which included 1,931 children, and delivered household goods with an estimated value of almost $2.4 million. 

Harry and Terry have nurtured the FreeStore from a storage room in the closet of 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, especially victims of domestic abuse.

The Swansons have been the backbone of the organization for 17 years.  Harry is always thinking and scheming on how to improve operations; Terry works more behind the scenes, handling the myriad of logistics that make the FreeStore hum like a well-oiled machine.  Without Harry and Terry, there wouldn’t be a FreeStore, and victims of domestic violence would struggle even more than they do now.

Pamela Wolter, Denver

Pam Wolter has been a dedicated volunteer and community member in Denver, Iowa for the past three decades, exemplifying what it means to be a proactive and engaged citizen.  Pam is responsible for creating numerous community projects and establishing boards and events that are still making an impact today; for example, the annual Denver Fireworks event, Tree Board, Community Betterment Committee, Monarchs Matter initiative, Cedar River Mussel Conservation project, and Cedar Valley Paddlers, among many others.

Not only has Pam been active in creating initiatives from the ground up but she’s also contributed her time and talent to many boards and committees.  She has completed countless projects related to the environment or in service to organizations that have a similar cause, demonstrating time and again how to bring people together to create solutions.

Pam’s real strength as a volunteer is in her ability to identify needs that are not being addressed and her willingness to pave the way as a leader to find solutions.  She has found methods to continuously meet the needs of her community in ways that are sustainable and comprehensive, and demonstrate what is possible when community members are driven by a call to improve the places around them and create change for the things that matter most.  

Her determination to create projects where none exist has opened opportunities for other volunteers and community members to be engaged.  She builds a network of committed community members and organizations that magnify impact, and develops buy-in that allows her step away from the projects at some point with an ability for them to continue without her.

She doesn’t do any of this on behalf any particular organization or so any specific group can get good publicity or check boxes off a requirement chart.  It’s just her, seeing a need, proactively solving it.  Time and time again.

Printed from the website on March 22, 2018 at 5:04am.