Celebrate Life Special Recognition + Awards

Founders Award – Diana Hoogestraat

On With Life’s Founder’s Award was created to recognize individuals who have made lasting and significant contributions to On With Life’s development and continued success. This award has only been presented to a handful of pioneers in On With Life’s history, and we are excited to recognize Diana Hoogestraat as this year’s recipient.

A longtime employee of the Glenwood Resource Center, Diana was initially invited to join the board for On With Life’s Long-Term Care program in 2006. Although she initially didn’t know much about the organization, she felt a strong connection to the organization’s mission after taking a tour, which made joining the board an easy “yes”!

Diana has since become an instrumental advocate for our persons served and now serves at the Ltd. board president. (If you’re keeping track, that is 17 years of board service!) She has also volunteered her time toward helping with fundraisers for the Long-Term Care program, putting together raffle baskets and raising awareness of On With Life throughout the community.

Diana, a long-time resident of Glenwood, played an integral role in building On With Life’s Long-Term Care program that currently resides in Glenwood.  Even though Diana is sad to see our program leave the community she loves, she continues to be a strong cheerleader for On With Life and those we are privileged to serve. From the beginning, she has been an important part of the program, and we know she will continue to be through the program’s transition to Polk City and beyond. 

Advocate of the Year – Polk County Board of Supervisors

The Advocate of the Year Award was created to honor an individual or group whose outstanding advocacy has significantly advanced the treatment and services for Iowans living with brain injury. This year, we are excited to honor the Polk County Board of Supervisors.

The On With Life Foundation has been fortunate to have received more than $1.25 million from the various Polk County funding programs throughout the past six years. This support has been dedicated to larger projects such as the outdoor therapy grounds and Giant Strides expansion campaign, as well as to the annual Celebrate Life fundraising and recognition event and therapy equipment needs.

Most recently, when the relocation of our long-term care program from Glenwood to Polk City was announced, the Polk County Board of Supervisors recognized the importance of bringing this program to Polk County and voted to allocate $1,00,000 in infrastructure funding to the project.

We have also been fortunate to have the leadership of District 3 Supervisor, Steve Van Oort, on our Foundation board. Steve joined as a member in 2018 and transitioned to the role of board president in 2022. Says Supervisor Van Oort, “On With Life gives each person served the confidence, courage and opportunity to get on with their life. They care about the individual impact each person has on our community, and Polk County is proud to support their hard work.” 

Thank you, Polk County Board of Supervisors, for all you have done to support Iowans living with brain injury!

Volunteer of the Year – Steve Evans

Our Volunteer of the Year award recognizes an individual whose steadfast commitment and dedication to On With Life’s mission shines through their volunteer service. We are honored to present this year’s award to Steve Evans. Steve has been a volunteer with us since 2018 and has dedicated countless hours to bringing joy to our persons served, families and staff.

Whether it’s serving families at our annual holiday luncheon or handing out Tootsie Rolls in front of Fareway – something he did just yesterday! – Steve is always the first to jump in when there’s an event or a need. Every Thursday, he comes to visit persons served and assist with our chapel service, even filling in for the chaplain when he cannot make it. Steve has also helped other volunteers give back, too – when one of our long-time volunteers could no longer drive, Steve began to pick him up and bring him with to do projects so he could still contribute to On With Life.

When asked to share about Steve’s volunteer service, Carol Murken, administrative assistant said “Steve has such compassion for our persons served. He visits with them nearly every week and finds out their passion, then researches it so he can have meaningful conversations with them. He’s got a great sense of humor and brings joy to everyone he visits with. This year his own family had a health crisis that he often attended to in a different state. Several times, Steve got off the plane and came to do his volunteer work at On With Life. He is definitely a valued volunteer!”