United Way of Central Iowa and its United55+ program has had the pleasure of working with Joyann Benoit, a life-long Des Moines resident, for more than 20 years. She retired from volunteering at the start of this year.

The small ad in the Des Moines Register called for volunteers in the governor’s office, and Joyann Benoit felt compelled to answer. She had recently retired from her long-standing career for the State of Iowa in the Code Editor’s office and at the Capitol, working alongside various elected officials in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The volunteer opportunity was a natural fit, just another way to serve her community and her state – where she had spent her entire life.

Joyann Benoit

Little did she know when she walked in to find a grand table surrounded by men and 

women on May 31, 2000, that it would be the first day of her new career: Volunteering with United Way of Central Iowa’s “Mailing Mamas.”

The self-named Mailing Mamas is a group of women who were initially called upon to – you guessed it – complete large-scale mailings for organizations and nonprofits through their connection with United Way. As our world has become more digital, the “Mamas” have evolved their service offerings to support big projects. Diane Benoit, who we spoke with to learn more about her mother Joyann and is also an occasional member of Mailing Mamas, said that though it might not be their preference, sometimes these women volunteers are working three to five days a week.

“For me, [volunteering with the Mailing Mamas] was nice because it was time my mom and I got to spend together,” Diane said. “I'd heard stories about this group of ladies for years before I joined, and it’s been fun for me to get to do something good while spending a half a day with these ladies. They truly are just a joy to be around. I think that’s why my mom has been doing it for so long. …

“I’m amazed at the consistency with which she and the Mailing Mamas have done their work. They are there, year-round, to help United Ways nonprofit partners. It’s pretty amazing. Like my mom, many are well into their retirement years!”

Since her first assignment 20 years ago, Joyann has logged a total of 4,184 hours through United Way of Central Iowa and volunteered for over 40 agencies and organizations through United55+.

At the beginning of this year, at the age of 92, Joyann retired from volunteering. We are sad to see her go, but we know that through her dedication and wonderful work, she has made an incredible impact in our community over the years.

“My mother’s volunteerism has helped create a legacy of volunteerism in my family, especially for me and my brother,” Diane said. “And it has certainly paid-off for me. As a retiree of about five years now, she has inspired me to be an active volunteer in our community.”

Congratulations on your second retirement, Joyann, and thank you for your 20 years of dedicated service to United Way of Central Iowa and our community.

Topics: Volunteer, Story

Sara Engelhart

Written by Sara Engelhart

Sara Engelhart is United Way of Central Iowa's former Strategic Communications Operations Manager.