Falconer to Enter Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame

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A southeast Iowan will be presented with one of the most distinguished awards given to individuals due to their volunteerism on Thursday.

Former AmeriCorps Partnering to Protect Children (APPC) member Paula Falconer of Oskaloosa, IA, will be honored at the State Capitol in Des Moines for a special Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame ceremony. The Iowa Volunteer Hall of Fame is the most prestigious state-level honor volunteers can receive. APPC is a program of Iowa State’s Child Welfare Research & Training Project (CWRTP).

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Paula and her teenage daughter spent time thinking about what they could do to help – what needs they saw in their community that many families were facing. They remembered their storage had plenty of t-shirts that they could use to sew bags for the food bank in Ottumwa. Paula noted that it can be challenging to include teenagers in activities they enjoy outside of electronics. Thankfully, her daughter loved having the opportunity to practice her sewing skills. Together, their small group of friends sewed nearly 1,000 food bags to be used for families facing food insecurity in their area. This spurred new ideas about how to help bridge gaps and helped build a foundation for the Eddyville Summer Food Program where together with other community organizations and businesses, over 8,000 meals were shared with families.

Paula is proud to say that she is a homemaker at heart – and AmeriCorps provided an avenue to expand her world. In thinking back to when she first considered becoming an APPC member, she said, “I knew I wanted to make a difference in my community. I knew I wanted to learn about my community. And I knew I wanted to serve my community – but I did not have a clue how to do any of these things. I also knew I would have to step out of my comfort zone.”

Falconer’s exploits include starting her own nonprofit organization since completing her AmeriCorps service. With her passion for people and community, CWRTP believes Paula Falconer will continue to make a long-lasting positive impact in southeastern Iowa.

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