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2021 Volunteer of the Year - Lisa Ryken

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

At United Way of Greater Yankton, we believe that volunteers are essential in making our community a better place, where all members are healthy, successful, and thriving.

For over 25 years, United Way has thanked and highlighted extraordinary community leaders through our Volunteer of the Year award. In 2016, in honor of our 60th Community Campaign, the United Way Board of Directors announced they would rename the annual honor after long-time volunteer, advocate and community leader, Pam Kettering.

Nominees for the 2022/2021 Pam Kettering Spirit of Volunteerism Award are recent United Way Volunteer of the Month recipients. These volunteers were nominated by their peers for their incredible work fighting for our community. Nominees include Loran & Delores Moore, Susan Bies, Rich Wright, Yankton Youth Soccer Association, Paula Keehr, Lisa Ryken, Leonard Hejl, Patty Stuelpnagel, Mary Pesek, Maurice Meredith, Calvin Starzl and Wade Van Gerpen.

During United Way’s recent Community Campaign Kickoff and Appreciation Event, the annual Pam Kettering Spirit of Volunteerism Award was presented to a community member who demonstrates a strong, dedicated and giving spirit, Ms. Lisa Ryken. Lisa’s kindness and dedication to Yankton Toys for Kids impacts many local children and their families - displaying through her actions that when we band together, we can create positive change and help those who need us most.

Yankton Toys for Kids has had a strong partnership with United Way for nearly 20 years, working together to bring joy and the gift of hope to many local children. Last year, Lisa took over for a legend, Mrs. Pat Robinson, aka Mrs. Claus, as the holiday program’s Program Coordinator, dedicating over 120 hours of volunteer service to ensure its success.

We asked Lisa to share more about her volunteer service here in the greater Yankton community:

What does the Pam Kettering Spirit of Volunteerism award mean to you?

I am honored to receive an award named after one of the most influential people in Yankton’s volunteering community. Pam gave selflessly of herself & being recognized for my small contribution to the volunteering community is humbling.

How has volunteerism changed or affected your life?

Volunteering helps remind me of all I have to be grateful for. It has also taught my son it’s very important to spend time helping others to appreciate all we have in our own life. I can get too caught up in my own life and this helps me appreciate all I have. Recently, it has allowed for teaching opportunities for my son. I strive to raise a compassionate and empathetic son and believe him seeing me volunteer and give back is one of the best ways to teach those things.

What advice would you give to others interested in volunteering?

"Just Do It." Get out of self and give back. The Yankton community is full of opportunities to help others and knowing you were able to bring cheer during a time that for many is not joyful, is rewarding. If you have children, consider involving them in your volunteer work. It’s a great way to teach compassion and empathy to growing minds. I think the saying “we all have more time than money” is spot on. We can all find a few free moments in our lives to give back to others. It allows you to meet new people, learn different things available in the community and should also provide a warm heart when it’s over.

Congratulations Lisa and thank you for your dedication to our community and to volunteerism!

For more information on local volunteer opportunities or to nominate a Volunteer of the Month, please visit

To learn more about this year’s Yankton Toys for Kids, or Adopt a Family holiday programs, call United Way of Greater Yankton at (605) 665-6766 or email

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