Three Monticello residents receive Governor’s Volunteer Award

Jim Zimmerman has been volunteering for the Transportation Program since 2006. This was his fourth time being awarded the Governor’s Volunteer Award, seen here with Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Gov. Kim Reynolds. (Photos submitted)

Pete Sauser has been driving clients to medical appointments with the Volunteer Center since 2007. Aside from this service, he delivers senior meals every day in Monticello. Sauser is seen here receiving the Governor’s Volunteer Award on July 30 with Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Bob Eilers enjoys getting to know the clients he transports to medical appointments outside of Jones County. He has also been serving Holy Communion to shut-ins for 40 years. From left are Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Eilers, and Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Three long-time Monticello volunteers were honored on July 30 with the Governor’s Volunteer Award for their 10-plus years of service to the Jones County Volunteer Center.

     Jim Zimmerman, Pete Sauser and Bob Eilers all received the award from Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg at a ceremony in Marion. They were nominated by Volunteer Center Coordinator Amy Keltner for their dedication to the Elderly Outreach Assisted Transportation Program.

Jim Zimmerman

     This was the fourth time Zimmerman has been awarded the Governor’s Volunteer Award. He’s given 12 years of service, and doesn’t anticipate slowing down any time soon.

     “Jim was one of the founding drivers of the program and loves to reminisce about the start of the program,” shared Keltner.

     She said Zimmerman recalls when the Transportation Program served just a handful of senior citizens per month. “Now we see an average of 60 transports a month,” she said of the way the program has grown.

     “Jim as a knack for connecting with our clients and making them feel at ease during the drive,” continued Keltner.

     Zimmerman said he always tries to find something he has in common with the clients to break the silence and carry on a conversation throughout the drive.

     “Talking to someone else is not a problem for me,” he smiled. “I find an interest and go from there.”

     Zimmerman was awarded the Volunteer Award in 2007, 2012, 2016, and now 2018. He also received the Presidential Volunteer Award in 2006 and 2007.

     “I really enjoy it,” Zimmerman said of driving Jones County residents to non-emergency medical appointments outside of the county.

     Driver with the Transportation Program regularly drive to Cedar Rapids, Waterloo, Dubuque, and Iowa City.

     “I never turn down a client,” Zimmerman said. “They have to get to the doctor just as well as we do.”

     Zimmerman said the only time of the year he takes time off is the week of the Great Jones County Fair when his son and his family visit from Maryland.

     Zimmerman started his volunteer service when he retired from Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids. He volunteered for Rockwell’s active retiree group, and the rest is history.

     “We would help build ramps for low-income people and the elderly,” Zimmerman said as part of the organization with Rockwell.

     When Zimmerman first started driving for the Volunteer Center, he maybe had one transport a month.

     “I started making contacts and that’s how I got into in,” he said.

     Zimmerman also credits Bob Eilers, his neighbor, for getting him acquainted with the Transportation Program.

     Now, Zimmerman takes transports a few days a week, four if needed.

     “You meet different people all the time,” he said. “That’s the nice thing about it.”

     While some doctor’s appointments might be a half hour or so, Zimmerman said clients’ dialysis appointments might last up to four hours. That’s when he takes a drive throughout Cedar Rapids, or sits in the waiting room playing his handheld poker game.

     Zimmerman volunteers 40-50 hours a month, and has already hit the 1,000-mile mark.

     “I don’t sit still too long,” he joked. “It gives me something to do.”

     Zimmerman also volunteers to drive patients from Jones Regional Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital back to Jones County if they don’t have a ride home.

     “I like to keep myself busy,” he said.

     After receiving the Volunteer Award numerous times, now, Zimmerman said it’s still an honor.

     “It’s no different from the first time,” he said. “I’m just as proud.”

     Zimmerman has been given the award by Terry Brandstad, Kim Reynolds, and Mariclare Culver, Gov. Chet Culver’s wife.

     Zimmerman said volunteering is something he enjoys doing. “It makes a difference when you can help someone out.”

     He added there is always some kind of reward associated with volunteering, you just don’t know of it at the time.

Pete Sauser

     Sauser has been volunteering with the Transportation Program for 11 years now. He also gives his time to delivering meals for Jones County Senior Dining throughout Monticello. He’s been with Meals on Wheels for three years now.

     “I substituted for someone (at Senior Dining), and they passed away, so I took over,” he said.

     Sauser delivers meals to seniors in town and in the country.

     Sauser said when his wife was in the nursing home he needed something to occupy his time. He said the Transportation Program wasn’t something he was initially award of.

     “I used to do it three or four times a week,” he said. But with Meals on Wheels every day, he now takes two or three transports a month.

     “Because Pete has other volunteer opportunities that fill his mornings, he doesn’t volunteer for our program as often as he would like,” shared Keltner. “However, Pete is so dedicated to our program that will fill his afternoons whenever possible with ensure folks in Jones County are able to keep up with their medical needs.”

     Sauser said he typically drives to Cedar Rapids or Iowa City. One time he drove a client to Des Moines for an appointment at the specialty pain clinic.

     “It’s better than sitting around doing nothing,” Sauser said of volunteering. “I like to help.”

     He said the diving and transportation programs are both great volunteer opportunities.

     “You meet the nicest people doing this and you become good friends,” he said. “You get to know these people really well.”

     Keltner said Sauser’s sense of humor makes him “such a pleasure to work with.”

     Sauser said he feels “pretty proud” of the recognition for his volunteer service. “When the Governor shows up it’s a pretty big deal,” he said.

     Sauser encourages people to volunteer “to help keep Monticello the great city that it is.

     “It’s a good community, he praised.

     Sauser said the Volunteer Center reimburses the driver for their mileage to help cover gas. He also applauded Keltner for her dedication to the Volunteer Center. “She does a super job,” he said.

Bob Eilers

     Eilers has been with the Transportation program for “close to 11 years.”

     Like Zimmerman, he also assists patients at JRMC who were brought in by ambulance, but require a ride back home.

     Prior to assisting the Volunteer Center, Eilers volunteered with Advancement Services for a few years.

     “Jim (Zimmerman) asked me if I wanted to help take people to doctor’s appointments and that’s how I started,” he said.

     Eilers averages 15-20 transports a month.

     “I used to do it a lot more,” he said.

     He’s transported clients all over Eastern Iowa to Dubuque, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Maquoketa, Davenport, and Iowa City.

     Aside from volunteering for the Volunteer Center, Eilers is also heavily involved in the Monticello Knights of Columbus Council #1821. He also substitutes for Sauser on occasion delivering senior meals.

     But, for 40 years now, Eilers has given of his Sunday to take Holy Communion to shut-ins of Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

     Volunteering is something Eilers does not shy away from.

     “People need help out there,” he said. “They really appreciate what we do for them.” He said at times, the clients will offer to buy lunch as a thank-you.

     Keltner said she appreciates Eilers for his consistency and dedication.

     Eilers said he felt appreciative of receiving the Volunteer Award. “You don’t do it for the award, but to help people out; that’s the purpose,” he said.

     Eilers said some of the Transportation Program clients may not have family around to take them to doctor appointments, or don’t have the ability to drive anymore.

     “He provides transportation on a weekly basis to folks all over the county, ensuring their well being by driving them to necessary medical appointments that they would otherwise be unable to get to,” Keltner said. “We know we are lucky to have him when clients call and ask specifically for him!”

     “Volunteering is something less than 10 percent of people in the U.S. will do,” he said. “It’s always the same ones.”



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