Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Four local residents received awards from the governor for volunteering at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center.
The Governor’s Volunteer Awards went to Tiff Widmer, Mosie Lasagna, Vickie Heald and Randy Dillon. These awards would normally be given out during a ceremony at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa for this region, but this year the ceremony was virtual. On July 2, the four award recipients gathered at the arts center to receive their honor, presented by the arts center’s assistant director Mendy McAdams.
McAdams said volunteers are the lifeblood of the nonprofit world and an essential resource for a sustainable nonprofit community.
“For us, a steady supply of individuals willing to give their most valuable resource — time — is critical for our basic operations,” she said.
McAdams said the arts center is fortunate to have an army of volunteers who work in the theater helping patrons find their seat, scanning tickets and helping clean up. McAdams was herself honored with a governor’s volunteer award in 2019, and said she felt fulfilled that someone had noticed her hard work.
“Volunteering is good for the soul,” she said. “By helping others, you help yourself. I hope our recipients feel the love.”
Widmer has volunteered in the theater since 2018, and is often found scanning tickets and welcoming guests to the theater. He has amassed hundreds of volunteer hours with the center. When McAdams put out a mailer to the center’s donors, Widmer answered the call and spent several days folding, stuffing and labeling letters.
“I can tell you I was so thankful for his help as I had so many paper cuts and had lost my motivation to continue,” McAdams said. “Tiff’s bright smile each day as he came in and set up, with his music playing, helps us push through and get that out.”
When the pandemic struck, the arts center had some major staffing changes. McAdams said the office’s auto-attendant, the phone answering system, was wrong in names and in extensions. After much research, they figured out how to change it.
Almost every city office and business in town uses the same male voice, and the arts center wanted to change that.
“This lovely lady stepped up,” McAdams said. “She has a beautiful singing voice as a member of the Southeast Iowa Chamber Singers. She helped make our message less boring and is now the voice of your center. Mosie also has a kind heart and supportive nature. I am forever grateful for her sweetness.”
Heald has volunteered in the theater since 2019 as a greeter, taking tickets and working the merchandise tables at shows. When the center has needed help for weddings or holiday parties, she has stepped up. McAdams said Heald has been her “go to” for mailings lately.
“She can fold, stuff, label and sort mail like nobody’s business,” McAdams said. “She messages me regularly to see when the next mailer will happen. She even recruited her niece to help on the last one.”
Dillon has volunteered his time on the arts center’s board and makes nearly daily trips to the center to do accounting. McAdams refers to him as the “numbers master.”
“Not only does he handle the day-to-day accounting, he has been organizing and making our books more efficient,” she said. “He has shored up our accounts and streamlined our system. He supports our staff in making changes to our routines. He is truly part of our family.”