Mikelson Recognized as Iowa's Volunteer of the Year

March 21, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Gay Mikelson, an Iowa City resident since 1971, has been recognized as Iowa’s Volunteer of the Year from the Iowa City community. She will be honored during Iowa’s First Round NCAA Tournament game on Sunday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes face Marist at 7 p.m. (CT).

Mikelson, retired from the University of Iowa after more than 30 years of service, is a longtime fan of the Iowa women’s basketball team.

Mikelson lives in service of others and demonstrates this value on a daily basis. As a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City (UUSIC), she has served as the President of the Board of Trustees and on the Social Justice Coordinating Committee. Through her service on the Social Justice Coordinating Committee, she has made social justice opportunities available to the entire congregation. For many years, she has volunteered side-by-side with members of the UUSIC to serve lunch at the Free Lunch Program to men, women, and children in the community in need of a nutritious meal. In fellowship, she participates in annual events such as the Winter Clothing Drive, Project Holiday, and the CROP Walk.

For the last five years Mikelson has coordinated a team of 25 volunteers that produces 250 book bags filled with necessary school supplies for children in need. Mikelson has distributed household items to individuals and families, many of whom were transitioning from homelessness into their own residencies. She also gathers items for Home Ties, a local not-for-profit that provides child care for homeless and at-risk of homeless children. Mikelson’s devotion to her community extends beyond issues of equality and social justice and includes a deep concern for the environment. She is an avid recycler and member of 100 Grannies for a Livable Future.

Mikelson has volunteered for Shelter House for over a decade, serving on the Board of Directors and assisting with daily activities at the shelter. During her tenure on the Board, she organized a UUSIC sponsored Luncheon for Shelter House and has since continued to work with fellow Unitarians to make this an annual event, which over time has raised thousands of dollars to help those who are homeless in the community.

As a member of the Board of Directors, Mikelson provided leadership to the organization as Shelter House moved forward with the controversial work of building a new homeless shelter. During this time faith communities throughout Johnson County joined together to provide additional shelter beds, known locally as the Overflow Program, for the winter months. Each winter, Mikelson served with friends from the UUSIC to staff overnight shifts at the Overflow Program so that on the coldest nights of the year when Shelter House was already full, people would still have a warm, safe place to sleep for the night.

Mikelson was able to combine her love of service and women’s basketball when the University of Iowa women’s basketball program sponsored events from year-to-year for the children staying at Shelter House. She volunteered to drive families to and from the arena so that the kids could watch the team practice and join them on the court to run drills and play games.

The Volunteer of the Year Promotion runs in conjunction with the overall community service efforts that surround the Women’s Final Four in Nashville.

The NCAA is celebrating the community service efforts of all of women’s basketball programs with an emphasis on the 20 host sites for the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship. As part of the celebration, the NCAA is honoring one person in each of those communities who goes above and beyond in their community.

Each site will honor its Volunteer of the Year at a game during the Championship. In addition to being recognized in their community, the stories of these volunteers will be told throughout the Women’s Final Four in Nashville.

Iowa’s First and Second Round Games will be played Sunday, March 23 (4:30 and 7 p.m.) and Tuesday, March 25 (8:30 p.m.) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The UI was one of 16 sites chosen to host First and Second Round Games, and 1-of-8 chosen to host in back-to-back years.

Fans can order tickets by calling 1-800-IA-HAWKS, visiting the Carver-Hawkeye Arena ticket office, or by visiting hawkeyesports.com.