50 Faces of Volunteers – Julie Powell


Nominated by Jasmina Popaja, Lutheran Services in Iowa

Tell us a little about the volunteer: Julie Powell was an eighth grade Language Arts teacher for thirty-four years in West Des Moines. Not long after retiring from that she began volunteering at LSI.

The involvement with LSI and the refugees was a pleasant accident for Julie. She never thought she would be working with this group of people (she mainly thought about helping children in various ways). While working a few doors down from LSI she noticed people starting up a garden behind the building and was curious as to what was going on. This opened the door for her to work with the refugees not only in the garden (gardner etiquette, how to work together, etc.) but eventually ESL classes as well.

Currently, Julie usually spends four to six hours per week teaching English to elder refugees. She most enjoys listening to refugees’ stories. Julie loves learning about the struggles and accomplishments in their lives and teaching them skills. She loves to feel a sense of connection amongst them all and does this by singing in the various languages and other fun activities.

Not only do refugees benefit from the services offered at LSI but volunteers do as well. Giving refugees the resources necessary to connect with the rest of the community is crucial. They are so motivated and willing to learn which is one of the many reasons why working with refugees is such a good experience.

Julie encourages others to volunteer by simply telling stories. She enjoys sharing with others experiences she has had and the impact refugees have made on her.

What is the primary (one or two) organization(s) they serve? LSI

How long have they volunteered with this/these organization(s)? 4 years.

Why does this volunteer deserve to be recognized with a 50 Faces of Volunteers spotlight? Julie has a deep understanding of the struggles refugees have endured that brought them to the US and compassion for the challenges that the elderly face. She beautifully uses her awareness to lead students in extremely relevant learning activities that will not only help them to feel confident as learners, but also bridge the two cultures they navigate on a daily basis. She is a teacher of the highest order!

Tell us about a great volunteer! We would love to recognize them as one of our “50 Faces of Volunteers.” Volunteer Iowa selects one nomination to feature every other Wednesday. 

Nominating is easy! You’ll submit a short paragraph or two about the volunteer(s) and their experience. The who/what/where/when (or for how long) and, most importantly, the why of their volunteer cause. We have provided some questions to prompt responses. It’s also strong requested that you submit a photo with your nomination. This is a great opportunity to help showcase a dedicated volunteer or volunteer group in your community! 

Ready to submit a spotlight? Access the online form here

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