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Shirley Kessel Receives Champion of Service Award


Administration and Staff

July 17, 2018

Shirley Kessel and group at Iowa State Capitol receiving award with Gov. Kim Reynolds

(back row, left to right) Greg Sutherland, Volunteer Iowa Commissioner for South Central Iowa; Joel Loving, Graceland University AmeriCorps Director; Shirley Kessel, Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth Development Specialist; Rebecca Rainwater, Kessel’s granddaughter; Governor Kim Reynolds; Nancy Hoffman, Graceland University AmeriCorps/RSVP Program Assistant; (front row, sitting) Bobbie Finch

Des Moines, IA— Graceland University AmeriCorps Youth Development Specialist Shirley Kessel of Lamoni was presented with the Bobbie Finch Champion of Service Award by Governor Kim Reynolds and Volunteer Iowa July 16. This award recognizes individuals who have served as an active supporter, volunteer, commissioner or staff member with Volunteer Iowa and was developed to honor the legacy of Bobbie Finch, the first director of the Iowa Office on Volunteerism (under Governor Robert Ray), the precursor to the entity now known as Volunteer Iowa.

Kessel was instrumental in bringing the Graceland AmeriCorps program to Southern Iowa and was a key community leader in starting a Volunteer Center and, most recently, an RSVP project to serve the community by engaging volunteers age 55 and over. In addition, Kessel connected the Decatur County Development Corporation to Volunteer Iowa to engage a VISTA member in economic development efforts in Decatur County.

Kessel has been classified as the definition of “Champion for Volunteerism.” When there is an important community activity in Lamoni that is driven by volunteers, it’s almost a guarantee that she is a part of, if not leading, efforts focused on meeting community needs.

Like Finch, Kessel has devoted her lifetime to community service and has consistently advocated for volunteerism, national service and developing supports to effectively engage citizen volunteers in addressing Iowa’s greatest challenges. She continue to be an inspiration to those who follow in her footsteps and has touched hearts and lives with her unwavering focus on building stronger communities, enthusiasm and compassion.

Governor Terry Branstad presented the inaugural Champion of Service Award to Finch in 2016 in recognition of her serving for more than 40 years to develop and advance volunteerism practices, principles and resources in Iowa. Her leadership and belief that volunteerism and service are essential in Iowa’s continued success built the foundation that has made Iowa a perennial leader in volunteer service in the United States.


About Volunteer Iowa (or Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service)

Volunteer Iowa and its partner agencies work with organizations and individuals on three main fronts. The first is to help agencies develop quality programs that use service as a strategy to fulfill their missions and address Iowa’s greatest areas of need. The second is to help engage Iowans in their communities by promoting service and expanding the volunteer base. Finally, the third area of work is to connect individuals with appropriate service opportunities by building the volunteer infrastructure. More information: www.volunteeriowa.org.


Adapted from a media release provided by Volunteer Iowa.

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