Eight individuals and a Des Moines coalition that promoted COVID vaccinations have been inducted into the Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame. It’s the highest state-level recognition for volunteer service in Iowa communities.
A crowd in the Capitol rotunda cheered as Edna Schrandt of Decorah was recognized for more than five decades of volunteering. “At 89, Edna continues to volunteer in her community,” said Volunteer Iowa chairman Cherian Koshy, the emcee of Thursday’s ceremony.
Tabinda Cheema of Davenport was honored for volunteering at local food pantries and for leading efforts to assist Afghan and Iraq who’re resettling in the Quad Cities. “Her work to welcome these families has ranged from grocery trips to sourcing cultural and religious items such as prayer rugs, Korans and halal meat,” Koshy said. “Tabinda has even assembled donated items in her garage for families to shop for what they need, from clothing to kids toys and sports equipment.”
Greg Fier of Clinton, who has multiple sclerosis, was recognized, in part, for starting a non-profit that helps those MS live independently. “Support ranges from home based technology to transportation to helping people stay in their homes,” Koshy said.
Herbert Hazewinkle, Jr., of Peosta was inducted into the Volunteer Hall of Fame for his work at the Dubuque County Conservation Board, where he’s put in countless hours after retiring from his job as an engineer at John Deere Dubuque Works.
“He has rebuilt over 15 bridges across Dubuque County parks,” Koshy said. “…In addition to safety and accessibility, Herb has improved user amenities in the parks, such as camping platforms and selfie stations, attracting a supporting tourism in the area.”
Dr. Steven Meyer, an orthopedic surgeon from Sioux City, founded Siouxland Tanzania Education Medical Ministries 25 years ago and it now covers a 100 campus in the east African country. “It includes an operational and education farm, food distribution programs and a school,” Koshy said. “Through Dr. Meyer and STEMM’s work, the region has seen an increase in the region’s trained medical doctors and culturally sensitive medical care.”
Pam Schoffner of Polk City was recognized for her work at Camp Sunnyside, service with the United Way and two decades of volunteer work with a group that supports hospice patients and their families.
“During the pandemic, she facilitated online grief support groups to meet the needs of many struggling to find spaces to process grief and loss,” Koshy said.
Kathy Waychoff of Fairfax was honored for leading volunteer activities for high schoolers. “When the 2008 floods came through Cedar Rapids, Kathy coordinated and managed the clothing and supply drive at (Cedar Rapids) Prairie High School that served the entire eastern Iowa community,” Koshy said.
And Tom Townsend was honored for being the long-time leader of Dubuque Area Labor Harvest which provided boxes of free groceries to an estimated 23,000 people last year.
A group called the VaxDSM Project was honored for its efforts in the Des Moines metro to host COVID vaccination clinics and address myths and disinformation surrounding the COVID vaccines. “VaxDSM’s community and faith-based efforts have assisted Polk County in surpassing its goal of at least 70% of residents with at least one vaccination dose,” Koshy said.
Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg handed out awards to this year’s class of Volunteer Hall of Famers. “The folks receiving this honor have freely given their time and talents in countless ways to benefit others,” Gregg said.
The first Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame ceremony was held in 1989. This year’s honorees join 197 other Iowans who’ve had their names engraved on plaques that are on permanent display at the State Historical Building.