Member since June 16, 1980
The oldest of ten children, Yvonne grew up near Blencoe, Iowa, graduating from the community high school during the World War II years. While attending a business college in Sioux City, Iowa the students were asked to sell War Bonds. The USO was conducting the sale on a nearby base. “To my surprise, I volunteered, probably to get out of school!” That story was not only the beginning of a life of service to church and community for Yvonne, but also a reflection of her wonderful humor and humility. Prior to this interview, she had never spoken of this first experience at volunteerism with her family. She had almost forgotten it herself.
Previously residing in Dunlap, Iowa, Yvonne and her husband Quentin were blessed with eight children: six girls and two boys. She currently has 20 grandchildren and 43 great-grandchildren. After the family’s move to Council Bluffs, her children attended St. Peter’s grade school.
Her second volunteer experience, spanning many years, was assisting with classes and programs at St. Peter’s. While a secretary in the Personnel Department at SAC Headquarters in Bellevue she organized retirement and birthday luncheons for the office. She contacted various restaurants, provided the speakers and coordinated the presentation of the gift. She was a member of Business and Professional Women (BPW) in Council Bluffs for many years and served as President of that organization.
Yvonne joined the Catholic Daughter’s St. Anthony Court in 1980. One of her greatest joys was making decorations for various CDA projects. The Mother/Daughter breakfast was a special favorite. “We would gather at one of the member’s homes and spend hours making decorations, such as doll centerpieces, flower pots and many others. We had so much fun.” Yvonne served in officer positions for the court, including secretary and four years as regent. She drove members of the court to many District Meetings and State Conventions. She stated, “We had so many good times.” For many years Yvonne hosted court members in her home for the judging of the poetry contest. During the same time she volunteered as an usher at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha and the Iowa Western Theater in Council Bluffs. “What fun we had after everyone was seated and the doors closed…we were able to watch the concert, play or opera.”
Her husband was deceased and the children were gone from home when she decided to volunteer at St. Peter’s Parish as a Lector. Yvonne sees herself as an organizer behind the scenes, not a talker. She gives “good Father Kenkel” credit for helping her read and face the congregation. He told her “Yes, you can!” After she had served as lector several times they were short of Eucharistic Ministers, so Yvonne began taking communion to shut-ins and hospital patients. One shut-in was a lady who lived in Crescent, IA, who she enjoyed taking communion and visiting. She also served on the Social Concerns Committee and was a member of the Legion of Mary group at St. Peter’s. She served as president of the Legion of Mary, who said prayers and made many Rosaries. “It was quite a task, learning how to count and put the beads together.” She also led the Rosary every Sunday, before 10:00am Mass during the months of May and October.
Following her retirement she was visiting a friend in an Omaha hospital and noticed the helpful, friendly volunteers in the waiting room. She then went to Mercy Hospital and signed up to volunteer in the Reception Office. She was surprised that the person assigned to show her the ropes was one of our court’s members, Rose Spoto. She thought Rose did a “fantastic job” and Yvonne spent several years, until she suffered a stroke, in what is now called the Welcome Center at Mercy Hospital. She “thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many nice people and helping them to find where to go in the hospital.” Volunteers become members of the Mercy Guild, and typically Yvonne served one year as President of that group. Though the stroke left her legally blind, she still attends Mercy Guild luncheons and get-togethers. Neither has she lost the constant friendly smile on her face, and her love of laughter that must have been a great comfort to the families she met.
Yvonne feels no amount of money can “replace the wonderful memories and enjoyment “she got from volunteering. She stated that she “really misses volunteering and driving her car”; those who don’t volunteer “really don’t know what they are missing.” Why did she spend so much of her time serving others? Well, being raised in a family of ten children and having eight children of her own, Yvonne says “You learn to help and do for one another.”
We recognize the many years of service of longtime Catholic Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Cancer survivor, Yvonne Hanneman. Once again we realize that those who do so much for others seldom see themselves as anyone out of the ordinary. But we can put a spotlight on Yvonne because she has answered the command of Jesus . . . “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” – Mt 5:15-16