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People Making a Difference

Reverend Jerry Sawyer

Working in ministry for 61 years, Reverend Jerry Sawyer has a heart for helping others and giving back to his community. After retiring from full-time ministry, Sawyer continues his mission of helping others through his role as chaplain at On With Life's Ankeny campus.


"On With Life has a holistic approach to rehabilitation, and that includes the spiritual needs of our persons served," said Sawyer. "They and their families have endured immense amounts of trauma before coming to On With Life, and we want to be sure they have the spiritual support they need."


Sawyer was ordained in 1955 and moved to Ankeny in the 1970s to start a church. He retired from full-time ministry in 1998  before joining On With Life as chaplain in2005. As chaplain, he leads weekly nondenominational chapel services and visits with each person served and their families. But Sawyer says his role extends beyond that. Over his years at On With Life, he has officiated baptisms, weddings and funerals for persons served, families and staff.


"It's about providing a feeling of being cared for and a feeling of hope. Maybe they'll leave with a little more joy than they might have had otherwise," said Sawyer. "I'm honored that I can help with that." 


In his free time, Sawyer enjoys traveling with his wife, Gladys, and together they have visited 95 countries and every U.S. state. Gladys also contributes to On With Life by making quilted lap blankets for each person served. Sawyer also has a long history of service to non-profit boards in Ankeny. 


"Giving back is a passion of mine and part of who I am," said Sawyer. "We've been very blessed, and we're going to keep giving back as long as we're able."