By Jodi Harris
Some people truly have giving hearts. Tom Lage and his grandson Quinn Leland are extraordinary volunteers, and our volunteer spotlight shines on them this month.
Tom, a longtime volunteer for WRAP and Habitat for Humanity, invited his grandson, Quinn, to get an idea of what helping others felt like. In December of 2021, they worked on a wheelchair ramp build together and it was a fun and memorable experience for both.
“Being able to give something of yourself, your time and talent, to do something for someone who really needs it, makes you feel great!”
Quinn, 15, a freshman at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, had taken a construction class at school and volunteering for WRAP was a great chance to use his new skills.
The entire family are givers of their time and talent. Tom’s wife, Mary Rose, a retired first-grade teacher, volunteers as a religious education assistant for the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program at St. Patrick’s Church (preschool program), and granddaughter, Grace, also enjoys helping with the kids as a volunteer. Tom contributes by making items for the program whenever needed.
Tom’s daughter, Abby, Quinn’s mom, and dad, Hunter, volunteer for the Junior RoughRider’s Hockey organization. Hunter also serves on the Board of Directors for the RoughRider Hockey Club (RRHC) and is a volunteer mentor on the McKinley STEAM Academy Robotics Team. So, it is only natural that Quinn would have a giving heart too.
Tom, values education and holds two master’s degrees. The first is in Air Ocean Science and the second in Strategic Studies. He initially graduated from Iowa State University in 1975, married Mary Rose in 1976, and then served in the Navy for the next 20 years.
During his Naval career, he had the privilege of serving in Guam, MI, Norfolk, VA, Monterey, CA, and Suitland, MD. His most memorable tour was serving as the Weatherman/Oceanographer on the USS Theodore Roosevelt on its maiden voyage, for two years.
In 1996, the family moved back to Cedar Rapids so the kids could finish school here. Abby, Hunter, Grace, and Quinn, live in Cedar Rapids. Tom and Mary Beth’s son Tommy and wife Maricela also live in Cedar Rapids and Tommy works at Collins.
After the move, back to Iowa Tom took a job at Rockwell in Coralville and stayed there for a year and a half until he moved into a software support position at Rockwell in Cedar Rapids. He stayed at the company until his retirement in 2017 and then went back for two years as a contractor from 2018 through 2020, which ended with the Covid 19 pandemic.
Before he retired, he joined the Rockwell volunteer group and his friend Bob Clark recruited him to volunteer on Habitat for Humanity’s home builds. Tom’s father was a carpenter, so he learned the skills in his youth.
In 2017, Tom began volunteering for WRAP and now helps both organizations. Along with his volunteer duties, Tom and Mary Rose enjoy their family and love being grandparents. They are members of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids.
Tom says he really enjoys the comradery with his fellow volunteers at WRAP and says they enjoy lots of laughs along with the work.
Quinn loves hockey and golf and is following in his father’s footsteps as Hunter participates in an adult hockey league at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena. Quinn learned to skate soon after he began to walk and is a member of the Junior Roughriders team in Cedar Rapids too.
Last December, on the day of the WRAP build, Tom introduced Quinn to another friend and volunteer, Ron Tonneson, who is responsible for cutting each board for the ramps. Quinn learned a lot from Ron as he explained to Quinn how to cut the boards exactly as specified and why each was cut the way it was for the project. Quinn also competed in the “Raising Men & Women Lawn Care Service 50 Yard Challenge.” The challenge ran from May of 2020 through November of 2021. He mowed 50 yards for veterans, the elderly, and people who are disabled free of charge.
“I really learned a lot the day of the WRAP build, from Ron and everyone else. Being a part of the team, really helped me put my new skills to use. It was great to see how everyone did their jobs to ensure that the ramp turned out perfectly. I also really enjoyed being able to help and learn from my grandfather, someone I love and respect. It was a very meaningful experience to me.”
Quinn’s other big interest is golf, and he plays as much as he can. During the summer of 2021, he participated in the Rotary Pribyl Junior Golf Classic in Cedar Rapids. After the event, Quinn was surprised to learn that his name was chosen, from the participants, as one of eleven other junior golfers, to receive $100 to donate to his favorite charity. He was proud to give his donation to WRAP.
This summer Quinn is excited to have the opportunity to work at Gardner golf course in Marion, which falls in line with his goal of becoming a golf course superintendent after college.
“After I participated in that build, I knew that my donation would be helpful to those who need ramps to help them safely get in and out of their homes.”
Tom and Quinn remind us that no matter your age or skill level, everyone has something to give. If you would like to volunteer for WRAP as an individual or with a group, contact Angie at (319) 369-7377 or visit the website at www.wrapiowa.org. If you have the heart, we would love your help!