Hello, Hawkeyes! During these uncertain and trying times, we hope that you are safe and well! We would like to extend our most heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has continued to engage in helping others in any way, from donating homemade protective equipment to volunteering for local hospitals. We’d like you to meet one Hawkeye who stepped up to help meet a great need for our community: Allie Stutting, who created Errand-ers, a delivery service for those in need in the Iowa City area!
Hometown: Princeton, Iowa
Year in School: Fourth Year
Major: History and Secondary Education with a Social Studies endorsement
What organizations are you involved with on campus?
During my senior year, I was the executive director of Dance Marathon 26, which was a wonderful experience and a huge commitment, and I was involved in the Student Advancement Network. In the past, I have also been an RA, a Hawkeye Service Break leader, and involved in the Campus Ministries!
How has being involved in these organizations helped shaped you as a leader and prepared you for your future goals and career?
The most that I’ve learned from my time at the University of Iowa was through the student organizations I’m involved in and programs within the Office of Leadership, Service and Civic Engagement. I’ve gotten so many hands-on experiences from these organizations that have shown me what servant leadership is on both an educational level and an experiential level. I learned how to perform service in the best, most informed, and most respectful way, and then apply my learnings in an applied setting. I learned how to motivate people, how to engage people, and how to create a group goal and apply it to every member of an organization. Through the University of Iowa, I have learned how to start an organization of my own and have an impact outside the university.
How have you been staying engaged, and how has your ability to be engaged, been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak? How have you been continuing to make a positive impact in the community?
When the Coronavirus was first reported as entering the United States, and there was talk of shutting down the University of Iowa and public spaces, I was with my grandparents. I looked at them and said ‘hey, you can’t be going to the grocery store. If you need something, let me know’. That moment will stay with me forever. All of us will face difficulties with this new normal, but people who are older or have underlying conditions are so much more at risk. And after hearing a story of a woman being flagged down by an elderly couple who wanted her to purchase their groceries for them, I knew there was something that I could do as a young, able-bodied college student. There was something we could all do as neighbors helping neighbors, and that is how Errand-ers came to be.
I want to do the most that I can with this organization, as I am an anxious person who sometimes has trouble staying focused in times of doubt and uncertainty. I needed something positive to project my energy on, and that was where Errand-ers came in. I wake up every day and make a choice to help people in the community now, and I am not the only one. There are so many existing organizations that want to help people that we are learning from and sharing ideas with. It has been very rewarding to be a part of one of these programs and have these talks about how to help people with others in the community. We can all be so strong if we work together, stand together and fight together through this crisis.
What did the process for creating Errand-ers look like?
After having the idea for Errand-ers, I set up a Twitter poll for the world to see to gauge interest and ask for volunteers. So many people reached out with questions and ideas to improve my initial one, but it was such a new idea that there wasn’t a lot of infrastructure in place. Roughly two-hundred people reached out to volunteer, and I couldn’t handle that many volunteers alone, so I reached out to those people who had questions and told them that they could help by becoming a board of directors and spearheading special projects as we grew our organization.
We reached out to both the Department of Public Health of Johnson County as well as faculty members of the College of Public Health here at the University of Iowa in order to ensure that we were following the best and safest practices for our clients and following feedback from professionals, and that is important for any nonprofit or volunteering organization. As we expanded more, we were invited to digital meetings with nonprofits from across the area who work with aging populations, which has given us a lot of insight in how to best serve our clients, and we have begun to have meeting with individuals from the College of Business in order to ensure that Errand-ers has the financial ability to stay serving our community. It has been a daily journey expanding and collaborating with so many new people and organizations.
What has the public response to Errand-ers been?
Since we were so new, we had so many people reach out to us for volunteering, but not many people knew about us to request our services- this was one of the earliest difficulties we had to overcome. But we have had more and more requests for our services, and the support for our service has been overwhelming in Iowa City and beyond. I have already been in contact with people from other cities looking to set up their own Errand-ers services to serve their communities. Overall, everyone we have interacted with just seems to want the best for the organization.
What recommendations or advice would you have for students who want to start their own volunteering service?
When it comes to starting a nonprofit, it sounds so much more intimidating than it actually is. My advice would be that as soon as you see a community need that intersects with a passion or interest you have, go for it. Run towards the solution for that need. I have always had a love of building community, the elderly population, and giving people light when times seem dark, but I had no idea that I would be starting a nonprofit, and everyone has loves of their own that they can use their passion to help. Be bold in your pursuits of whatever your love is- you will only regret the things you don’t do, not the things you do accomplish.
What has been your proudest moment of being involved with Errand-ers?
I was on an errand dropping off groceries for a woman, and we got to talking. We were talking about such little things, but she started crying out of happiness. She was so grateful for our service, and her affirmation and light gave me hope that if you wake up every morning and do what makes you feel passionate and motivated, you are doing good in this world. Having this client so moved by what we were doing moved me in turn, and I’ll remember that interaction for the rest of my life, honestly.