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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.

Iowa Department for the Blind



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

View our Volunteer Policy


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


Elizabeth Perowsky, Extraordinary Volunteer:

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

  • 2015
    Ron Lundquist
  • 2014
    Marilyn Garvey, Narrator
  • 2013
    Matthew Ver Huel, Library Assistant
  • 2012
    Robert White, Narrator
  • 2011
    Angela Graham – Braillist
  • 2010
    Sue Ketelsen, Narrator
  • 2009
    Lila Fisher– Braillist
  • 2008
    Harlan Watson – Narrator
  • 2007
    Fran Benson – Braillist
  • 2006
    Anita Sundin – Narrator
  • 2005 
    Virginia Degen – Braillist
  • 2004
    Marie Wells – Tapist
  • 2003
    Doris Southard – Braillist
  • 2002
    Gloria Alverson – Rewinder
  • 2001
    Zeta Haas – Machine Repairs
    Barb Kates – Braillist
    Marge Kauffman – Tapist
  • 1997
    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

      Judy Fausch
      Sue Smith
      Judy Overbeck

  Braille Proofreading:
      Rose Statton

      Pat Smith, Des Moines
      Lois Horgeshimer, Waterloo

  Braille Proofreading:
      Jo Slayton, Des Moines
      Mary Clarke, Des Moines

     Tim Gracey

  Braillist (music):
     Charlotte Zeman

   The Pioneers (talking book repair)
      Jan Bartelt  
      Eunice Coppens  
      Ethel Kolenz   
      Marilyn Markway   
      Sandy Mitchell   
      Raymond Putz  
      Martha Swigart

    Dave Saurman
    Bob White

  Audio Editing:
    Mary Doige

    Joan Boggess
    Barb Kates
    Rose Stratton

    Sr. Jeanette Kopel
    Richard Riley
    Bonnie West

  Machine Repair:
    Ray Putz

    Jane Beckley
    Dorothy Betsinger
    Patricia Dunbar
    Pat Votey
    Marilyn Woods

    Sarah Campbell
    John Jackson
    Sue Ketelsen

    Mary Cross
    Esther J. Hjemboe
    Gladys Colwell
    Barbara Kehn
    Eleanor Moore

  Narrator and Stacks Clerk:
    Rod Brink

    Mary H. Cossitt
    Angela Graham

  Braillist and Machine Repair:
    Eunice Coppens

  Stacks Clerk:
    Robert Kennard

    Joyce Keller

    Pat Smith

  Machine Repair:
    Robert Wilson

  Braille Proofreader:
    Helen Boddy

    Roger Christenson



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