Thank you Cedar Rapids for an unforgettable celebration of JFON’s family in Iowa.


The 2018 Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors Immigration Volunteer Awards highlight outstanding individual volunteers at our seven statewide clinic sites. These volunteers have dedicated countless hours, hard work, and talent to support Iowa JFON’s work in their area and to ensuring immigrants and refugees feel welcome. Volunteers may have coordinated clinics, prepared hospitality activities and/or meals, conducted initial intakes, provided interpretation services, managed fundraising events or led other efforts that increase Iowa JFON’s capacity to serve immigrants and refugees across Iowa.

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Cedar Rapids Clinic Honoree

Dorothy Higdon's history of service to the United Methodist Church in Iowa is substantial. She was an active member of United Methodist Women serving as a district and Conference officer. Currently she is a member of "Mission U" CORE team. At Salem United Methodist Church, among many things, she chairs the mission committee promoting support of a variety of missions, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). In 2004 Higdon was instrumental in establishing a clinic site of Iowa JFON in Cedar Rapids. As local coordinator she serves on the Iowa JFON committee. Higdon participates in the “Immigrants Concerns” program, as well as the “Call to welcome the stranger” hospitality initiatives, promoted by the Prairie Woods organization of Cedar Rapids. Now, 14 years since the opening of the first clinic in Cedar Rapids, Iowa JFON serves more than 120 clients per year in that Cedar Rapids. Congratulations and Thank you Dorothy!

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Scott Lothe, Marshalltown Clinic Honoree

Rev. Scott Lothe has been a clergy member of the UMC Iowa Annual Conference for 30 years, serving churches in North liberty, Marshalltown and Laurel. Immigrant Allies worked with Iowa JFON for several years and always dreamed of having a clinic in Marshalltown to better serve our local immigrant and refugee population. Scott Lothe has been key to making this happen. He paved the way for faith partners who provide location and office space, as well as others who contribute financially and volunteer. He was serves on the Iowa JFON Marshalltown leadership committee, as well as being a regular intake volunteer at the clinic. He advocates for our immigrant and refugee neighbors on a regular basis, including a recent letter to the editor speaking out against family detention. Scott is an overall great example of a "servant leader". Congratulations and Thank you Scott!

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Eldon Nolte, Des Moines Clinic

Eldon has been a volunteer for the past 8 years. He shared that it is a blessing to be of Christian service through Iowa JFON during these years. He became interested in volunteering with Iowa JFON because of his knowledge of Portuguese and Spanish, which he learned while he was a missionary of the United Methodist Church in Brazil for 12 years and 3 years in Argentina. He has volunteered by offering hospitality and desires to welcome clients and help them feel comfortable as they sign in for the clinic. He is always willing to help where and whenever needed. Congratulations and Thank you Eldon!

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Merle Ayres, Storm Lake Clinic

Merle has been coming to the Storm Lake clinic for 10 years. He usually does intakes and is also a great person to help with hospitality! Merle says “the interaction at times for me is to walk in their shoes for a while and see where we can be most of help. We all need second chances at times and that's the way I see Iowa JFON is at work.” Merle has been known for his generosity, even going as far as giving out his extra winter coat when a client was in going without one. Merle is always ready to help someone in need! Congratulations Merle and Thank you!


Judy Swailes, Columbus Junction Clinic

Judy has helped with Iowa JFON for several years and she had worked at ACT in Iowa City for 20 years. When Rev. Ron and Cathy Whitatch started a nursery for Latina mothers who were studying English at Columbus Community High School, Judy met several students from different countries. Judy had always wanted to travel around the world, but money and family prevented that. She said, “I cannot speak any other language, but a smile and a hello go a long way.” Congratulations and Thank you Judy!

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Louise Hagen, Decorah Clinic

She has been at every clinic since 2014. Louise has been working with JFON’s Decorah center since its inception with intake and translation. She is also a dedicated member of the Immigration Working Group at the North East Iowa Peace & Justice Center, which provides education, support and a very active revolving micro loan fund that has assisted hundreds of immigrants in the area. She often translates and helps immigrant families find resources and navigate the complicated systems of a new culture. A former ESL & Spanish teacher, Louise is glad to offer her skills to ease the difficulties immigrants often face in living in this country. Congratulations and Thank you Louise!

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Kim Kelly, Ottumwa Clinic

Kim has volunteered with the clinic since it started in Ottumwa and was instrumental in helping to start the clinic. She has attended almost every clinic. Kim has 2 adult daughters and 2 grandsons and has lived in Ottumwa for 28 years. Kim is a mental health therapist and substance abuse counselor and works as the Clinical Supervisor at Sieda Behavioral Health. Through her work as a mental health therapist, she became passionate about immigration. She was involved in the initial planning of the JFON Clinic in Ottumwa and loves assisting with intake and welcoming clients. She has learned much about immigration through listening to their journeys. Congratulations and Thank you Kim!

Thank you to our Sponsors for making this event a reality!!!

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Keynote Speaker

Deepa Iyer is a South Asian American activist, writer, and lawyer. She is currently the Senior Fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion where she provides analysis, commentary and scholarship on equity and solidarity in America’s changing racial landscape.

Deepa is the author of the groundbreaking book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press 2015), winner of a 2016 American Book Award. Scholar Vijay Prashad has written that Deepa “brings the head of a lawyer and the heart of a community activist to bear on her remarkable book…It is a window into the struggles of the margins that allow the mainstream to remain humane.” Deepa’s book was selected by the American Librarians Association’s Booklist magazine to be one of the top 10 multicultural non-fiction books of the year.


Iowa Immigration Leadership Achievement Award

Doris Knight

We will be honoring 15 years of service of DORIS KNIGHT with the first Iowa Immigration Leadership Achievement Award. We will also recognize one volunteer from each of our 7 Legal Clinics statewide.
THE IOWA IMMIGRATION LEADERSHIP ACHIEVEMENT AWARD honors individuals who have demonstrated extensive leadership qualities in supporting and welcoming our immigrant and refugee neighbors across Iowa. This
individual has shown initiative, hard work and management skills in working to improve circumstances for New Iowans and their families. This may include leadership in promoting positive sys-temic changes, new policy, accesses to resources, immigration organizational
development and/or overall advocacy for immigrants in Iowa. 2018 honoree will be
Doris Knight.