Only nine months after opening its doors, the Family Alliance for Veterans of America (FAVA) was given the 2013 State Champion Award for being an outstanding community partner in Iowa.
The award was given on behalf of Experience Works. An organization that develops job skills and places workers in community service assignments for people 55 and over seeking employment and training.
FAVA held a reception in recognition of the award Thursday with state senators, state representatives, area business leaders and media in attendance.
“FAVA was given the award because they are an energetic startup organization,” said Dick Freeman, the state director of Experience Works. “They have been an excellent service for the community and veterans and they have helped participants in the Experience Works program.”
Sally Bitker from Garner is a participant in the Experience Works program. She was placed at the FAVA office and has learned valuable skills during her time there.
She has worked as a receptionist, catalogued information for the organization’s library, given tours and researched grants for veterans.
“My public speaking has improved since starting with FAVA,” Bitker said. “I have given tours of the building and that’s something I wouldn’t have been comfortable doing before.”
Bitker has worked at FAVA for almost a year.
“I have enjoyed working with families veterans and the staff,” she said. “I have also liked going to fairs and letting people know about FAVA.”
Carole Lemon an employment and training coordinator for Experience Works elected FAVA for the award after seeing the success Bitker had volunteering at FAVA. Lemon works out of the Chamber office in Garner and the Iowa Work Force in Mason City.
FAVA director Rhonda Jordal said in her acceptance speech, the organization has served 766 veterans and family members since opening. Ages served range from 20 to 91.
“We have over 13,000 volunteer hours,” Jordal said. “I think that’s pretty amazing here in north central Iowa.”