Volunteers powering Marshalltown community

T-R PHOTO BY MIKE DONAHEY - Marshalltown Public Library volunteer Dr. Pradeep Sarswat of Marshalltown cleans a table prior to the Conversations in English event in the facility’s cafe. Sarswat is one of several volunteers who are assisting English as a Second Language residents improve their skills in a comfortable and casual setting.

Marshalltown is a community which thrives on volunteer initiatives.

From the annual Oktemberfest celebration to Iowa River Hospice to Salvation Army bell-ringing, Marshalltown and Marshall County residents respond when duty calls.

While the July 19 EF-3 tornado caused millions in property damage, it also revealed a dynamic volunteer spirit. Hundreds of volunteers from near, far and wide have poured into Marshalltown to help with relief efforts. Day by day, they are helping residents get back on their feet.

With National Volunteer Week proclaimed April 7 through 13, the Times-Republican highlights some of the many volunteers in our community.

Iowa Veterans Home

T-R FILE PHOTO - From this Nov. 14, 2018 photo, Marshalltown Police Department volunteers Joan Moore, left, and Don Brandt hold plaques recognizing their extensive service presented by Chief of Police Mike Tupper. The two received a standing ovation from the standing-room only crowd in city council chambers.

Amy Deimerly-Snyder has worked six-plus years as IVH Volunteer Services Coordinator and understands how critical volunteers are to the veterans they serve.

“If we did not have volunteers, IVH would be much like any long-term care facility,” she said. “What the volunteers do here is elevate IVH as an exceptional place to live. They made the difference of people being able to attend activities or not being able to attend, to attending church several times or not attending church, volunteers are the difference makers for our residents.”

Deimerly-Snyder manages:

• More than 150 trained volunteers who work more than three hours per month.

• 36 volunteers working 100 hours annually

T-R FILE PHOTO - From this Oct. 3, 2018 photo, members of the UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown Auxiliary and UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown Volunteer Services Coordinator Nora Byers, second from left, prepare home-made chicken pot pies in the hospital cafeteria kitchen.

• 10 volunteers who worked more than 300 hours last year

Deimerly-Snyder said Doris Lemker has donated more than 34,000 hours accumulated over many years, and Colleen Goodman has more than 10,000 hours.

“We are blessed to have many outstanding volunteers,” Deimerly said. “There is always a need here.”

For more information, contact Deimerly-Snyder at 641-753-4406.

Marshalltown Public Library

“The library is a lovely place to spend time,” Volunteer Coordinator Catherine Nobel said. “Everything is free … the resources available … it is a positive place to be.”

Noble said all of those assets and more, make recruiting volunteers less challenging.

“We have a lovely building, the collection is wonderful, it is a tremendous resource for Marshalltown.”

From organizing, to shelving books and more, volunteers working just several hours a week are an important part of library operations.

“When volunteers are shelving books, it frees up library staff to do more important jobs,” she said. “Many library patrons need help finding things online, to sifting through information online finding credible sources. We (the library) picks up the slack that used to be provided in paper form, that used to come in the mail for example. If we can free up our staff to do that vital work, then everybody wins.”

Noble said the library provides training for tasks in exchange for volunteers giving a commitment to be trained. Noble said she is looking forward to putting more volunteers to work as the growing season approaches.

“We have many things needed to be done outside,” she said. “Our goal is to make the Prairie Garden more appealing. We have a Prairie Series we will be doing, and looking for people who are interested. There is a push, with the decline of pollinators and monarchs to provide habitat. We can do our part providing a place for more pollination.”

UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown

“When people think of hospital staff, the initial thought is often of doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Along with those groups, there is an entirely different team at UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown who make a difference for staff and patients every day,”Amanda Huisman, UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown Marketing Communications Specialist said. “Last year, volunteers contributed 13,551 hours of assistance to the hospital and at the UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown Medical Park.”

UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown 2018 Volunteer Breakdown

• Downtown Greeters: 1,712 hours

• Early Bird Greeter: 485 hours

• Medical Park Greeters: 2,857 hours

• Surgical Attendants: 1,443 hours

• Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) Schedulers and Greeters: 2,627 hours

• Spiritual Care: 691 hours

• Medical Surgical: 215 hours

• Auxiliary: 1,100 hours

• Community Member Assistance for Pot Pies: 168

• Kitchen Support: 714 hours

• Clerical Support: 294 hours

• Med Assist: 144 hours

• Wheel Chair Assistance: 90 hours

• Emergency Room Greeter: 140 hours

• Animal Therapy: 25 hours

• Teen Volunteer Program: 396 hours

• Gift Shop/Bistro: 450 hours

From pushing wheelchairs to directing patients, assisting in the kitchen, contributing at auxiliary events and much more, volunteers work together with medical and administrative teams to help with medical care.

“Being a volunteer allows you to get involved in things in our town,” said June Bradley, a UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown volunteer for more than 16 years. “I get to know people better. I have met so many wonderful people. I encourage others to giving volunteering a try. There’s something for everyone.”

During the Medicare open enrollment period for last fall, a team of Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) volunteers at UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown had 1,625 contacts with Medicare recipients. Counsel was given on plans they could choose from that may save them the most money throughout the year. That resulted in in a total savings of $743,481 just for this upcoming year. One of our counselors saved a recipient $66,000.

For information about volunteer opportunities at the hospital, contact 641-754-5151.