Two Graceland University community outreach programs have new leadership. Cyndi Smith is the new director of Graceland’s AmeriCorps Youth Launch effort, and Lisa Kolb has taken over as director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Both Graceland partner programs are components of the Volunteer Iowa effort to encourage Iowans to give time to promote community programs.
Cindy Smith is a graduate of Lamoni High School and attended Graceland University for two years before completing her bachelor’s degree in international management at Simpson College. She gained national service experience serving with and graduating from the inaugural year of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) central region in Denver, Colorado. She went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration and then a Doctorate of Pharmacy, both from Drake University. She recently returned to Lamoni with her husband, Garry, and son, Oliver, as the pharmacy manager at the Lamoni Hy-Vee Pharmacy. She also currently serves on the Lamoni City Council and the Lamoni Food Pantry Board.
In Smith’s AmeriCorps position, she oversees the work of 36 AmeriCorps Youth Launch members who serve one-year appointments to promote youth development and mentoring. The program is a partnership between AmeriCorps, the Dekko Foundation and Graceland University. Members volunteer from 300-1,200 hours per year as youth mentors and tutors, recreation leaders, and with before- and after-school programs across six counties in southern Iowa. Members receive a small stipend for living expenses and an educational award they can use for educational expenses or student loans once they complete their full contract.
Nancy Hoffman is the AmeriCorps program manager, and Shirley Kessel continues as a youth development specialist and grant manager.
Lisa Kolb holds a law degree from Roger Williams University. She arrived in Lamoni when her husband, Marc, took over as Graceland’s head football coach, and she quickly involved herself in church and volunteer activities supporting Graceland athletes and other students. Prior to her appointment as program director for RSVP, Kolb coordinated efforts to help Graceland students who have children or other family dependents in Lamoni. She is also a member of the Lions Club and works with the Lamoni Food Pantry.
The RSVP program is a natural fit for Kolb. She describes her job as “setting up dates.” She matches residents 55 and over with volunteer opportunities in their communities. Working across Union, Ringgold, Clarke and Decatur counties, she will seek part-time county coordinators to identify needs and encourage volunteers who want to serve.
Graceland’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement Kelly Everett oversees both programs. “They are consistent with Graceland’s mission to serve the broader community,” Everett observed.
While both programs provide greater visibility for the university, they promote the education, recreation and economic resources necessary to attract and retain the quality of faculty, staff and students Graceland desires.
Everett continued, “We are so grateful to the Dekko Foundation for the continuing partnership that supports youth enrichment programs across southern Iowa.”
Questions or requests for more information about both the AmeriCorps program and RSVP can be directed to Smith and Kolb at Graceland’s general number, 641.784.5000.
(from left to right) Lisa Kolb, Graceland University President Patricia H. Draves, Cyndi Smith, Nancy Hoffman, Shirley Kessel