WATERLOO — The 41st annual Mayors’ Volunteer Awards were presented by the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley on April 9 at the Diamond Event Center at Jorgensen Plaza.
The awards program, which recognizes outstanding volunteers in the Cedar Valley, included a luncheon with 185 attendees.
The 2019 Volunteer Award nominees were Karen Averhoff, nominated by UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital; Vickie Bogart and Stacie Mills, nominated by the West High School Band; Will Breu, nominated by the Northeast Iowa Food Bank; Gary and Elaine Cooney, nominated by MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center; Gordon Davis, nominated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Cedar Valley; Dr. Francis Degnin, nominated by MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center; Marisa Dolan, nominated by the Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens; Lloyd Dove, nominated by House of Hope; Bev Fish, nominated by Western Home Communities; Kathy Gors, nominated by the Cedar Bend Humane Society; Alan Heisterkamp, nominated by Friends of the Family; Kristina Kofoot, nominated by Julianne Gassman; Lyle Krueger, nominated by Experience Waterloo; Kassidy Mayer, nominated by the Department of Human Services; Mary Meier, nominated by the Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens; Rachel Neil, nominated by Ben Neil; Jim Ostrander, nominated by AARP Foundation Tax-Aide; Alice Palas, nominated by MercyOne; Danika Patten, nominated by Green Iowa AmeriCorps; Penny Popp, nominated by the Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens; Ann Porter-Stoner, nominated by House of Hope; Jeanine Stanford, nominated by Cedar Valley Hospice; Joy Thiel, nominated by the Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau; Nancy Weber, nominated by Cedar Valley Hospice; and Hank Wellnitz, nominated by Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity.
The 2019 Outstanding Emerging Volunteer Award nominees were Emily Dvorak, nominated by Kristina Kofoot; Kayla Kramer, nominated by Young Parents Together; Phil Nash, nominated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Cedar Valley; Abi Roach, nominated by UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital; and Margret Roberts, nominated by MercyOne.
The 2019 Lifetime Achievement Volunteer Award nominees were Janice Crowe, nominated by Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa & Western Illinois; Betty Goettsch, nominated by World’s Window; Jan Guzman, nominated by World’s Window; Margie Keiser, nominated by World’s Window; Linda Kennedy, nominated by Sturgis Falls; Ruthie Lauer, nominated by Care Initiatives Hospice; Mac McCausland, nominated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Cedar Valley; Richard Michael, nominated by AARP Foundation Tax-Aide; Roland Schmidt, nominated by UnityPoint Health-Allen Hospital; Bonnie Smith, nominated by World’s Window; Roger White, nominated by the Cedar Valley Cyclists; and Floyd Winter, nominated by the Cedar Falls Schools Foundation.
The Mayors and Grow Cedar Valley Ambassadors selected 10 Mayors’ Volunteer Award winners.
This year’s winners:
Joy Thiel: Thiel coordinated the library at Immanuel Lutheran School in Waterloo from 2001 to 2013 and helped transition it to Valley Lutheran where she now volunteers every week, offering story time and book checkout to grades kindergarten through seven. She has been a hospitality specialist at the Cedar Falls Visitor Center and volunteers with the Grout Museum District, where she teaches third-grade Museum School and assists staff with data entry, mailings, and filing. She’s had a hand in many programs and activities through Mosaic Haven in Urbandale, the Reinbeck Park View Manor Nursing Home and the Grundy County Heritage Museum.
Rachel Neil: Neil is president of the Edison Neighborhood Association, and under her leadership, this group is working to improve the image of its neighborhood by restoring the old Edison School site, including more residential and commercial development and an all-inclusive public park. She is a client advocate for Alternatives Pregnancy Center, has helped secure donations for Alternatives and also developed curriculum for their outreach program at the women’s correctional facility.
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Gary and Elaine Cooney: Elaine Cooney has organized blood drives for Lions Clubs, raised funds for the American Heart Association and volunteered for United Way. She is also a member and volunteer of NAMI of Black Hawk County and once retired joined Gary at MercyOne. Gary Cooney was in the Air Force for eight years and worked with the Iowa State Patrol for 28 years, retiring as a captain. He’s also been a Little League softball coach, a volunteer firefighter and chairman of the Municipal Electric Utility board of trustees for Hudson. They both devote their time and talents to MercyOne and have contributed 6,000 combined hours.
Hank Wellnitz: Wellnitz has volunteered at Iowa Heartland Habitat for Humanity for years, has worked on over 100 houses and contributed over 1,000 hours in total of volunteer service over the years. He has also served four terms on the board of directors and been a vital part of many committees. In December, he even raised more than $1,000 driving Uber — donating all of his tips and profits to Iowa Heartland Habitat.
Outstanding Emerging Volunteer Award
Phil Nash: Nash has been a vital part of the Boys & Girls Clubs team, serving for six years as a board member and now committing to an eight-year executive term with the board. He served as campaign chair of the Together We Can capital campaign in 2016. He helped raise over $6 million to build a new Teen Center, update the current Boys & Girls Clubs Lime Street site and implement a $1.75 million endowment. He personally secured the last donation of $500,000 from the John Deere Foundation.
Lifetime Achievement Volunteer Award
Floyd Winter: Winter was the Cedar Falls High School principal, served as the district’s secondary director and also served as the Cedar Falls Schools Foundation president. His leadership and impact in the community extends well beyond the schools. He is, or has been, an active volunteer for many organizations, serving in leadership roles for the Volunteer Center of Cedar Valley, Exceptional Persons Inc., the Cedar Falls Health Trust Fund, Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health, the Cedar Falls Historical Society, the Iowa Department of Human Rights Policy Board, the Iowa Governor’s Advisory Council for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Nazareth Lutheran Church, Sartori Hospital Foundation, the Western Home Communities Board and many other organizations.
Linda Kennedy: For almost 25 years, Kennedy has been a key leader in planning and implementing the Sturgis Falls celebration. As current vice president, she coordinates the Overman Park venue and entertainment and builds collaborative relationships with vendors and city officials. In 2017, she announced her planned, phased retirement from the board and will end her term following the 2019 celebration. She was active in succession planning for a smooth transition for the board and the Sturgis community.
Janice Crowe: Crowe has been a part of the Girl Scouts for more than 75 years. In 1943, she attended her first Girl Scout Troop meeting. She continued with the Girl Scout movement into adulthood, taking on the role of troop leader as her four daughters took part. Today, Crowe spends much of her time still involved with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, co-leading troop 6581 out of Cedar Falls, a group of girls she’s been with from first grade through now ninth grade.
Mac McCausland: McCausland has been serving with the Boys & Girls Clubs for over 30 years. He first joined the board in the 1980s, where he helped lead the campaign for the full-size basketball court addition to the building. He coached the youth basketball team for many years and also had three players go on to play Division 1 basketball — one played in the NBA for 11 years. He has continued to share his wisdom, experience and fundraising gifts with the club to secure over $1.5 million in donations during the Together We Can campaign.
Roland Schmidt: Schmidt has been a volunteer with UnityPoint Health Allen Hospital for 23 years — carrying flowers or mail to a patient’s room, providing wheelchair assistance to patients, or answering questions for visitors. He also volunteers at the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, serves on the board of directors for the Allen Foundation, has given his time as a baseball coach, a church elder, a school board member and as president of the Polka Board.