• Holly Harris

Meet Our 2022 Volunteer Award Winners!

We at Global Ties Iowa have a tradition of recognizing our volunteers for various outstanding efforts and qualities every year during our Annual Meeting. At our first in-person Annual Meeting since 2019 this past November 7th, we were delighted to present these awards to our deserving volunteers once again!

“Above and Beyond” volunteer award winner Jeanne Stoakes (left) accompanies a delegation from Azerbaijan to the Amana Colonies.

Soon after the Annual Meeting began, members and volunteers quickly noticed that there may not be enough food for everyone. Jeanne Stoakes, a frequent volunteer, offered to go out and buy several pizzas for everyone. This act of kindness and extraordinary volunteer spirit exemplifies exactly why Jeanne won the “Above and Beyond” volunteer award. Aside from her high total of 45 volunteer hours, she always goes the extra mile for the visitors and her community.



Newly elected Board member Arnold Daniels Jr. is granted the “Hit the Ground Running” volunteer award.

Arnold Daniels Jr. was granted the “Hit the Ground Running” volunteer award in appreciation of the most active new member. Since discovering our organization in August of this year, Mr. Daniels Jr. Has volunteered 16.5 hours, joined our Board of Directors, and saved the day by picking up our visitors who were stranded at an Iowa Table Dinner due to cancelled Ubers/Lyfts.

Our next volunteer award recognized someone who acknowledges the important role of welcoming international delegations at their point of arrival. This is one of many ways to volunteer with us and it is incredibly important to give first impressions of our area with a warm Iowan welcome. Melanie Haupert was awarded the “Welcome Wagon” award for greeting visitors from Palestine, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh just this year!


Volunteer Melanie Haupert is presented the “Welcome Wagon” award.

Ebenezer Adeyemi is awarded the "Paparazzi" volunteer award.

The “Paparazzi” volunteer award was newly created after Global Ties Iowa staff noticed that a specific volunteer was capturing all the angles and taking 50-100 photos of our visitors during meetings. It is very important to us that we are documenting their visits through photography so we can share our mission and our impact to our community. Ebenezer Adeyemi, a new Global Ties Iowa volunteer, was granted this award for his phenomenal photography.

The “Pineapple” award singles out a member or household for their willingness to provide Iowa Table Dinners for our visitors. Inviting international visitors into your home and sharing a meal together is essential to the mission of citizen diplomacy. Our visitors constantly rate these dinners as a high point of their stay in Iowa especially when they visit the home of our winner. Although Amy Alice Chastain, Board President, proofread what she thought was the final draft of the Annual Report and the volunteer certificates, Global Ties Iowa staff surprised her with the award! She was very surprised, but because she is so deserving of this recognition, we decided it was a must to give her the award.

Holly Harris, Manager of Programs and Operations (left), presents Board President Amy Alice Chastain (right) with the "Pineapple" volunteer award.

Lastly, at the 30th Anniversary Founders and Futures Dinner, Global Ties Iowa launched a program to acknowledge those who have demonstrated an enduring commitment to Global Ties Iowa and citizen diplomacy. Our inductees include Tom Baldridge, Jeanne Cadoret, Marianne Weiss, Kenneth and Jan Hubel, David, Denise, and Mike Tiffany, and this year we were delighted to induct Steve Merkel-Hess into the “Lifetime Membership Club”. Steve has been a long-time active volunteer and supporter of Global Ties Iowa. He has served on the Membership committee and has volunteered 25 hours of his time this year. In addition, he always takes extra time to get to know our visitors, show them around our city, and provide several suggestions of things to do, people to see, and places to eat. Our visitors always have such positive feedback about how Steve made their time in Iowa special!


Steve Merkel-Hess is inducted into our “Lifetime Membership Club” for his outstanding commitment to citizen diplomacy.

After the volunteer certificates, we took a moment to also recognize everyone who has volunteered 10+ hours this fiscal year. Thank you to Amy Alice Chastain, Jeanne Stoakes, Steve Merkel-Hess, Don and Suzanne Kirchner, Jay Gilchrist, Alisa Meggitt, Cece Roudabush, Arnold Daniels Jr., Ken and Gayle Royar, Elizabeth and Alan Bergeron, Melanie Haupert, Ebenezer Adeymei, Fernand Bila, and Jayne Finch for your time and dedication to engaging our international visitors!

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