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Volunteers, donations needed at Iowa Veterans Home

T-R PHOTO BY CHUCK FRIEND Iowa Veterans Home volunteer Bonnie Pelke volunteers four days a week at the home and frequently makes poppies. The IVH is in need of volunteers.

Our veterans have served all of us through his or her military duty — fighting battles, manning defenses and often made great sacrifices for all of us. As they and their spouses enter the personal battles of disability, illness and old age, now it is our turn to serve them.

Amiee Deimerly, Volunteer Services Coordinator at IVH said the facility has more than 800 yearly volunteers and 40 weekly volunteers. And while this seems like a lot, she added, “We are always short on volunteers and can use always use more.”

There are several ways to volunteer at IVH, including recreational volunteers and one-to-one volunteers (Friend to a Vet). Deimerly said that volunteers are as young as teens and as old as 90.

“We tailor the volunteering to the volunteer. There is no set requirements — the volunteer can do a little or a lot,” She commented.

Recreational volunteers constitute the greatest need as these volunteers escort the residents to and from on-campus activity sites or to and from the bus for off-campus activities. They also provide assistance and encouragement to residents during the activity.

“We have two buses for activities such as breakfast at Hardees or HyVee; steaks at That Place; Iowa Cubs games; shopping at Walmart or fishing trips,” Deimerly said.

Recreation volunteers that remain on site help with movies, make popcorn, do anything associated with a fun activity or work at the welcome desk.

Be a Friend to a Vet volunteers can be assigned to one veteran as their personal friend, or visit several of the residents. These volunteers can do such activities such as letter writing; read to the resident; or help the resident play table games, cards and pool.

“In essence the volunteer is there to provide friendship, encouragement and support with no physical requirements involved,” Deimerly said.

Also used at the home are yearly volunteers that provide help at larger group activities such as the Elks pork roast that is coming up on Oct. 19, and other programs and services.

Bonnie Pelke is one person who volunteers four days a week and occasionally helps in the craft room on Saturdays. While at the welcome desk, she often is found making poppies.

“My husband is a resident here, but this is my happy place when I am volunteering,” Pelke said. “I hear wonderful stories and sad stories, but it is enjoyable working with both the employees and residents. It is very rewarding and I would encourage anyone to volunteer if they have time.”

Volunteers need to call the Volunteer Services office at 641-753-4406, to apply. They will complete the application form and the coordinator will do a background check and obtain personal references. Each new volunteer will receive his or her volunteer handbook, name tag and parking permit after a short orientation.

According to Deimerly, with the holiday season approaching cash donations are also needed at this time.

“We buy Christmas presents for every one of the 500 plus residents, so cash is needed to purchase those gifts. All recreational activities are paid for with donations as well, “Deimerly said. “There is a list of items needed at the home on our website, but the greatest donation one can make now is cash donations.”

Volunteering at IVH means giving back to a veteran who protected our freedom and showing the veteran that his or her sacrifice for our country is not forgotten.

“We could not do what we do without our volunteers,” Deimerly concluded.