In 2021, volunteers gave over 9,000 hours to IDB. Volunteers assisted with audio production, braille production, independent living programs, youth programs, library circulation and more.
You can positively affect the lives of blind Iowans by volunteering with the Iowa Department for the Blind. Our programs and services help blind Iowans gain the attitudes about blindness and the skills they need to prepare for training or education, find jobs or careers, and live independently well into old age. By volunteering with us, you can use your skills and talents to help us reach more clients, and help our clients live their dreams—whatever they may be.
Every year, hundreds of volunteers across the country share their time and talents with the Iowa Department for the Blind. Their efforts are an invaluable resource to our agency and the clients we serve.
Check out the video our library team put together to show their appreciation for our volunteers.
We are always interested in more volunteers. Learn more about the volunteer opportunities available at the Iowa Department for the Blind.
View our Volunteer Handbook
Each year, the Iowa Department for the Blind recognizes several outstanding volunteers and the valuable work they do. These volunteers are recognized during the annual Elizabeth Perowsky Volunteer Workshop & Luncheon Recognition Ceremony.
The following awards are given:
- Elizabeth Perowsky Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award
- Florence Grannis Award
- Transcriber Pin
For more than 60 years, Elizabeth Perowsky of Des Moines was a volunteer Braille transcriber. She taught herself to Braille and was certified in literary, Nemeth, and music Braille by the Library of Congress.
Elizabeth's efforts in Braille included transcribing:
- the complete Old and New Testaments
- musical compositions
- French textbooks
- mathematics projects
- hundreds of publications of every kind
Elizabeth was the group leader and main teacher for the Temple Sisterhood Braille Group. She also conducted Braille workshops throughout the country, teaching others how to Braille.
Near the end of her life, Elizabeth’s hands were so disabled by arthritis that she would tell her assistant which keys to press on the computer keyboard to form the Braille letters. This allowed her to continue Brailling when she could no longer type.
Elizabeth was still Brailling within a few weeks of her death at the age of 97 in May, 1996.
In honor of Elizabeth, the text on the Elizabeth Perowsky Memorial Volunteer Award states:
"For extraordinary spirit and inexhaustible dedication in volunteer service to those who are blind".
Past Perowsky Award Winners
Marilyn Garvey, Narrator
Matthew Ver Huel, Library Assistant
Robert White, Narrator
Angela Graham – Braillist
Sue Ketelsen, Narrator
Lila Fisher– Braillist
Harlan Watson – Narrator
Fran Benson – Braillist
Anita Sundin – Narrator
Virginia Degen – Braillist
Marie Wells – Tapist
Doris Southard – Braillist
Gloria Alverson – Rewinder
Zeta Haas – Machine Repairs
Barb Kates – Braillist
Marge Kauffman – Tapist
Alberta Wing – Music Braillist (first recipient)
Florence Grannis Library Service Award Recipients
“A library for the blind should supply borrowers the books and information they want when they want them.”
- Florence Grannis
Pat Smith, Des Moines
Lois Horgeshimer, Waterloo
Jo Slayton, Des Moines
Mary Clarke, Des Moines
The Pioneers (talking book repair)
Sr. Jeanette Kopel
Esther J. Hjemboe
Narrator and Stacks Clerk:
Mary H. Cossitt
Braillist and Machine Repair:
The Volunteer Pin: Past Pin Awards
This small bronze medallion is given by the Iowa Department for the Blind to volunteers. It recognizes the completion of the first book by a Braillist, Narrator, or in data entry, or forty hours of other service. The pin was originally designed to symbolize the skills of the Braillist and Narrator with the two rings of an open reel encircling the outline of the State of Iowa, and six dots of a full Braille cell on each side of the state outline.
The pin has become symbolic of all volunteer service to the Department for the Blind. It celebrates the generosity of the volunteer and an on-going relationship with the Department.
2015 Volunteer Pin Recipients
Braille Proofreaders: Susie Stageberg, Frank Rabon
Narrators: Charles Kabala
2014 Volunteer Pin Recipients
Braillists: Betty Urbanek
Narrators: Catherine Van Maanen
Library General Assistance: David Parks
2013 Volunteer Pin Recipients
Narrators: Kay Anderson, Tom Hudson, Penny Murphy, Mary Tighe, Teresa Wright, Bill Mech, Jamie Nagel, David Newman, Marie Quanbeck
Data Entry: Kim Comerford, Asha Sreejith
2012 Volunteer Pin Recipients
Braillists: Rae Tyler
Data Entry: Jenell Anderson, Sarah Perkins
Machine Repair: Karen Formaro
2011 Volunteer Pin Recipients
Braillists: Marjorie Holt
Data Entry: Cheryl Decker, Connie Dowling, Jeana Shelley
Proofreading: Mary Clarke, Sandra Ryan
Library General Assistance: Jessica Gridley, Doug Cole, Dawna Ray, Darlene Greenfield, Lisa Davis
2010 Volunteer Pin Recipients
Braillists: Susan Grosch, Charles Newcomer
Narrators: Rick Stageman, Sue Pogge, Mark Tauscheck, Judy Wenz, Judy Fausch
Data Entry: Sharla Wiegand, Cindy Chuah, Ashlee Hulbert, Sonya Householder, Bette Wiebke
Audio Proofreading: Meredith Drummond
Library General Assistance: Matt Ver Huel, Chevest Bennett, Linda Wiles, Jim Wiles
2009 Volunteer Pin Recipients
Narrators: Carol Bodensteiner, Donna Davis, Mary Doidge, Sara Kelley, Deb Nicklay, Rod Philp, Mary Richards, Pat Selburg-Smith, Trish Strah
Data Entry: Janne Hunsaker, Amanda Otten
Machine Repair: Jan Bartelt