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In the News: A love letter to devoted volunteers

Posted on 2/13/2022
by Katie Fourney, Share Omaha
Every volunteer has their own personal reasons for giving their time, and none of those include a desire to receive a love letter from me. Nonetheless, there are a few special someones in southwest Iowa that deserve a note of adoration. This valentine is for these kind-hearted folks mentioned, and also all the volunteers who are helping local nonprofits maximize the impact of their mission every day.

Connie Osler has been a volunteer with Pottawattamie Conservation for the past six years and helps welcome visitors at Hitchcock Nature Center’s Loess Hills Lodge, assists the environmental education team with programs and events and supports administrative needs. A retired elementary school teacher of 30 years, Connie is a go-getter — Pottawattamie Conservation staff know to have extra projects at the ready for Connie because she wants to make as big a difference as she can. Whether it’s volunteering at the annual maple tree tapping event at Botna Bend Park, answering park visitors’ questions and providing trail recommendations, creating materials for educational programs or processing park entry fees and reservations, Connie brings a special energy and passion to her work.

“Connie’s dedication, along with all of our other amazing volunteers, allows us to reach more people about the importance of natural spaces and be good stewards of the land. We truly couldn’t do it without our passionate volunteers and can’t thank Connie enough for everything she’s done to support our work,” said Kylie Gumpert, Pottawattamie Conservation promotions and outreach coordinator.

A group that embodies the “acts of service” love language is the Friends of Children’s Square organization. This wonderful group of individuals serves as volunteers for events such as the Jason Awards and Chipping in for Children golf event. They help with mailing projects, organizing the donations closet — you name it. They even get their hands dirty with landscaping maintenance of the beautiful Friends Garden on campus. Funding from the Friends also provides school supplies, zoo and museum memberships for children in residence, patio furniture for the residential cottages and recently, three park benches for the Friends Garden.

“No job is too big or too small for these amazing folks, and we are so blessed to have them!” said Moira Mangiameli, Children’s Square U.S.A. development coordinator.

Ann Carlson and Bev Perdue have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs since early 2019. On Monday mornings you’ll find them completing office work, logging receipts for grants, organizing files, etc. It’s not busy work; their work proves the University of Maryland’s finding that the value of a volunteer hour averages $28.54. Ann and Bev’s steady support has generated thousands of dollars through well-organized fundraising mailings and events.

“The spunk and smiles they bring to the office keep our stress low and spirits high! Thank you, Ann and Bev, for your support and dedication to our community. We could not do this job without you both,” said Kim Smith, Habitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs program manager.

In Neola and Minden, you’ll find teens Tucker and Archer Ellsworth and their mother Sheila Roggasch hard at work for Lookout Village, a nonprofit that helps individuals remain in their homes safely and affordably, encouraging social connections. Immediately after their volunteer training, Sheila, Tucker and Archer began to serve with love. This family team is willing to try just about anything — from lawn care to technology, even light housekeeping, to help their neighbors.

“They have helped with a number of projects as their busy school schedules allow. I love their enthusiasm, their kindness and their flexibility,” said Amy Moore, Lookout Village administrative coordinator.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) volunteers play a significant role in the lives of many in our region. They ensure the best interests of vulnerable youth in our community, work that deserves to be recognized. The Southwest Iowa CASA Program utilizes these community volunteers to ensure that a child’s voice is heard.

“CASA advocates are ordinary people who care about children. Currently, there are over 360 children involved in the court system in Pottawattamie County. They need someone to stand up for them, someone who will be in their corner no matter what,” said Anne Christensen with Southwest Iowa CASA program.

To these dear volunteers and everyone in our community who gives their time without asking for anything in return, thank you. Your labors of love make our neighborhoods stronger.

SHARE Omaha serves an eight-county region, including Pottawattamie County, connecting those who want to do good to ways to volunteer and support causes southwest Iowa. Find your fit for giving back at

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