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  • Writer's pictureLeila Assadi

Jeanne Stoakes: A Friendly Face for All International Visitors

In honor of the upcoming Volunteer Recognition Day, we would like to highlight a special volunteer who is an integral part of our community: Jeanne Stoakes. 

Jeanne is an Iowa native who has long been a familiar face at Global Ties Iowa. Jeanne first got involved with volunteering with Global Ties Iowa (formerly CIVIC) in the late 1980s/early 1990s and has since donated hours of her time helping our international delegations feel welcome in eastern Iowa. 

In the early days of her volunteering, Jeanne often drove rental vehicles with international delegations in tow, allowing her to get a glimpse into the lives of people from around the world. Jeanne highlighted the rental driving as special because she was able to learn about countries and people she previously had limited knowledge of. She was also always interested in talking with the liaisons who come with the groups. However, we are no longer able to let non-transportation companies drive delegations due to new regulations from the state.  

Over 30 years later, Jeanne is still as active as ever with volunteering. She always looks at her calendar when receiving a volunteer call and tries to sign up as often as possible. Not only does Jeanne learn about various countries and people who visit eastern Iowa, but she also learns about our local eastern Iowa community. When accompanying groups, Jeanne said, “There is not one time I haven’t learned from the local people about things in my own community.” 

While there is nothing Jeanne doesn’t love about the volunteering, she especially loves the Global Ties Iowa directors, speaking fondly of our current Executive Director Amy Alice Chastain. Jeanne credits Amy as being “beyond popular,” with Amy’s best quality being her ability to get people to come out of their shells. “I am the person at a party who will stay in one place,” Jeanne said. “I’m not the one to initiate a conversation. But she [Amy] makes you. I like her for that.” 

At the 2022 Annual Meeting, Jeanne was honored with the “Above and Beyond” volunteer award. In response to receiving this award, Jeanne said, “I like to be behind the scenes, and was shocked, and it was unnecessary. There are so many people who do so much, but it made me feel good.” Jeanne continued, saying, “I am just a cog in the machine, and I don’t think I do anything special. I just give my all.” Most recently, Jeanne received the Lifetime Membership Award at the 2023 annual meeting in recognition of her enduring commitment to Global Ties Iowa and citizen diplomacy. 

This humble, hardworking attitude is what makes Jeanne such a special volunteer. In reflection of her time volunteering, Jeanne has a message for others who are interested in volunteering. Like the Nike slogan, Jeanne said people should, “Just do it. It is just a couple hours of your life, and there is always free time do to something with Global Ties Iowa.” 

In the future, Jeanne will still be found volunteering, providing a friendly face who makes all international leaders and delegations feel welcome and invited to eastern Iowa.  


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