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Iowa Western Community College Spirit Squads

What started as a summer service learning project for the Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) Spirit Squads has turned into an annual event, one that coach Jeff Snow and his team have looked forward to each of the past four years.

Each year, the Spirit Squads return to work in the Owl's Nest, a garden for the persons served and their families at On With Life's Long-Term Skilled Care for Youth and Younger Adults program located in Glenwood, Iowa. Seeing the garden grow each year is just one reason the team likes to return. 

"The team likes to see the year-to-year progress and see results from their work," said Jeff. "But they really like seeing the facility and understanding how much of an impact their efforts make on providing a beautiful and functional environment for the persons served and their families."

Their work - more than 850 volunteer hours in total - has transformed the garden. They've dug a wheelchair-accessible pathway, laid brick pavers, constructed a pergola, dug trenches, laid drain tile to fix drainage issues, dug out field stones to build new retaining walls and raised flower beds, and much more. For their work at On With Life, the IWCC Spirit Squads were awarded the Governor's Volunteer Award in 2016.

"We're so proud to be recognized, not only by On With Life, but also by the State of Iowa," said Jeff. "Each year we use our time at On With Life to reinforce the philosophy that helping others and understanding community is foundational to personal success. The people at On With Life and the time we spend there continue to make a huge impact on our team and our program."