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Drake University receives United Way volunteer award

United Way of Central Iowa honored Drake University recently with an award in recognition of the University’s commitment to volunteerism and community engagement. Drake was honored with a 2015 United Way LIVE UNITED volunteer award at the United Way of Central Iowa’s Live United Awards ceremony, which was attended by more than 800 people on April 27.

Renee Sedlacek, left, Mandi McReynolds, and Martina Wolf accept the
Renee Sedlacek, left, Mandi McReynolds, and Martina Wolf accept the volunteer award.

United Way selected winners based on their act of dedicating time to an organization in the community that addresses the United Way of Central Iowa’s priority areas of education, income, and health.

As a higher education institution, Drake University is committed advancing opportunities for the public good. Whether programs involve learning how to read or how to grow vegetables, Drake University is involved in a myriad of community engagement initiatives, said Renee Sedlacek, assistant director of community engagement.

“Drake University is a proud partner not only with the United Way, but with many of the local agencies that are directly supported by United Way funding,” Sedlacek said. “We have a strong commitment to supporting the communities of which we are a part and contributing to the common good. This award simply affirms our work in that area.”

Drake University faculty and staff volunteer in a large array of areas and capacities. Over 45 faculty/staff members hold positions on boards and committees in areas About 70 percent of Drake employees personally volunteer weekly, for an estimated 65,520 volunteer hours per year; 79 percent of faculty and staff who responded to a survey said they personally volunteer with a community organization or event.

More than 2,600 students engage in community service annually; together they provide more than 232,682 volunteer hours, at an estimated combined value of $5.25 million to the communities they serve.

A small sample of the projects completed each year by Drake University students, alumni, faculty and staff members includes:

  • Volunteers at the Adult Literacy Center, a United Way funded partner, improve the quality of adults’ lives by helping them to read, write, and comprehend written language.
  • Students and faculty at Drake Law School provide pro bono legal services to low-income clients through the Drake Legal Clinic. The clinic served more than 1,400 clients in 2014.
  • Student-athletes in the Drake women’s basketball program volunteered 1,000 hours in their communities in the 2013-14 school year, and are poised to reach that goal again for the 2014-15 school year.
  • All incoming first-year students participate in a service project during Welcome Weekend, meaning they learn the importance of volunteerism even before they start classes at Drake.
  • Drake University Head Start is the largest Head Start grantee in the state of Iowa and one of only a few university-based Head Start programs in the nation. Head Start is a comprehensive child development program that serves more than 900 children from birth to age five and their families.
    Volunteers at the Drake University Alumni House during DU Good Day 2014.
    Volunteers at the Drake University Alumni House during DU Good Day 2014.
  • President David Maxwell and Senior Advisor for External Affairs Shannon Cofield serve as board members for the Healthiest State Initiative, and 62 faculty and staff members attended a Healthiest State Initiative Walk hosted by the Drake Wellness staff.
  • Students in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences coordinate an annual Health and Wellness Fair to offer free health information, screenings, and blood pressure as well as blood glucose, cholesterol, and bone density tests. A total of 87 students administered 352 screenings to 71 patients in 2012.
  • Hundreds of Drake students and alumni participate in a national day of service called DU Good Day, with projects hosted in cities across the country.

United Way of Central Iowa honored Drake University in the volunteer category for organizations with 200-799 employees. Beckley Automotive Services was recognized in the Fewer than 200 Employees category, while Nationwide Insurance was honored in the category for organizations with more than 800 employees. The nonprofit also gave awards for giving and advocacy.