McKowen honored for volunteerism
Last Friday a resident from Washington was recognized for her volunteering efforts with Main Street Washington.
Judy McKowen received the “Volunteer of the Year Award” from the Main Street Iowa group at an awards banquet in Des Moines. Main Street Washington’s director Sarah Sadrakula nominated her for the honor.
McKowen was very humble about being recognized. She found out when Sarah called her a couple of weeks ago telling her she had to attend the awards banquet in Des Moines.
“She said, ‘You just need to be humble’ and I said, ‘I am humble,” McKowen said, “and she said, ‘That’s one of the reasons why I nominated you.’ ”
There are several reasons why McKowen enjoys volunteering.
“I would say it was great to get an award for doing things you like to do and working with people you really like and that’s true,” she said “That’s how I feel about it.”
McKowen has been a volunteer in the Washington community for a while. Before Main Street Washington began in 2008, McKowen was one of the volunteers with Great Places. When Great Places became Main Street Washington, she continued to volunteer.
One of the projects McKowen volunteers with is Santa’s House.
“I could fill my house with Christmas stuff, but my family’s gone now, so I don’t have that opportunity. Now someone else in my family has Christmas so I love decorating there and helping Santa,” she said.
Sadrakula said McKowen is an integral part of the SNOW committee and Santa’s House.
“She always coordinates the Santa’s House which is open the weekend of Thanksgiving through Christmas on Saturdays and Sundays,” Sadrakula said, “and she works with our Santa here in town to figure out that schedule. She’s there a lot of those shifts. She’ll sit there from 1 to 4, every Saturday and Sunday, except for the week before Christmas. She always takes that one off to go visit her kids.”
McKowen often opens and closes Santa’s House, buys the cookies, makes sure the coloring station is put together and cleaned up, organizes the decorating of Santa’s House, and makes sure Santa is happy, Sadrakula said.
“She’s really kind of his elf,” she said. “She’s his helper and it’s the one thing she wants to do and she enjoys it a great deal.”
McKowen is also a part of Main Street Washington’s promotion committee. She organizes the “Sweeps” the promotions group does in the city during the summer.
“We do the ‘sweeps,’ which is we go to local businesses when they’ve had a sweeping change,” she said, “and that’s something that came about here at our local Main Street.”
McKowen was one of 45 volunteers honored for their volunteerism efforts with their local Main Street group, Sadrakula said. There were almost 500 people present at the awards ceremony.