Appreciated

A man credited with encouraging a positive image of his hometown, and a woman who started a program to promote reading by children were honored Wednesday by the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way.

Bob Wood and Katie Averill were among the individuals and groups recognized by the organization at its Up on Fort Dodge Appreciation Luncheon at Fort Frenzy, 3232 First Ave. S.

Wood received the Up on Fort Dodge Award.

“This is a special individual who’s done an outstanding job of talking up our community, especially when things were looking rather dim a few years ago,” said Randy Kuhlman, the chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way.

“During that time, this person communicated with hundreds of people, encouraging them to stay positive and continue to fight the good fight,” he added.

After the luncheon, Wood said he was “completely surprised” by the award.

“It causes me to reflect on how great it is to be involved in whatever I can be,” he said.

Averill received an Outstanding Volunteer Award.

“Her commitment to promoting youth reading and literacy has been nothing less than amazing,” Kuhlman said.

In 2012, she established the Emily Joy Averill Foundation, which is named after her daughter who died a year earlier in a traffic crash. The foundation operates the Joy of Reading program. Last week, all second-graders in the Fort Dodge Community School District and St. Edmond Elementary School received a free book through that program.

Another Outstanding Volunteer Award was presented to the Rabiner Treatment Center. Kuhlman said the center provides volunteers for a variety of tasks every time his organization asks for help. Justine Smith, a program supervisor, and two students from the center, Renton Morlan and Alex Pallos, represented it at the awards luncheon.

The Distinguished Service Award for someone who has contributed significantly to the work of the Community Foundation and United Way was presented to Chris Hayek. She worked for it from 2008 to 2013 and had a “huge impact on this organization and moving us forward,” Kuhlman said.

The accounting program at Iowa Central Community College received the Outstanding Partnership Award for preparing income tax returns for residents who can’t afford a tax preparation service. Kuhlman said that over the last eight years, the work of the accounting students helped residents get $3.2 million worth of tax refunds.

“That money is expended in this community in rent, food, housing, you name it,” Kuhlman said.

Dawn Humburg, a professor in the college’s business department who is the coordinator of the accounting program, represented it at the luncheon.

Five businesses were honored because their employees donated significant amounts of money to the annual capital campaign of the United Way. The businesses that were named Outstanding Pacesetter Companies are Cargill, First American Bank, Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, Nestle Purina PetCare and Valero Renewables.