Long-Time EveryStep Volunteer Honored by United Way


In many ways, Deb Milligan could be considered an expert at EveryStep. She currently serves as a trustee for the organization, and previously acted as the chair of the Board of Directors. Deb has also led or participated in numerous EveryStep fundraising campaigns and special event committees, and she has volunteered at EveryStep’s Kavanagh House on 56th Street hospice home in Des Moines since 2014, comforting patients and their families, assisting with laundry, and beautifying the facility’s grounds and gardens.

Now, United Way of Central Iowa is recognizing decades of hard work and commitment by presenting Deb with the 2021 Individual Hand-Raiser Award. The award is meant to honor “an individual whose service and dedication to United Way of Central Iowa and volunteerism in central Iowa are helping to transform our community and tackle our most daunting challenges.”

On Monday, April 26, 2021, a small group of Deb’s EveryStep peers gathered at EveryStep’s Bright Kavanagh Center to watch the virtual ceremony and congratulate their friend.

“I am so honored to receive this award,” Deb said. “When EveryStep told me they were submitting my name for this award. my thoughts were, ‘why me?’ This organization is so important to our community. I am just proud to be a small part of it.”

“Deb is one of those rare individuals who doesn't just ‘talk the talk;’ she ‘walks the talk,” said fellow volunteer Mary Brooks. “When she commits to any person or organization, she unselfishly gives of her time, her talents and her resources. As visible as her volunteer service is to EveryStep – from the Kavanagh House Capital Campaign to the Art of Compassion to her weekly volunteer time at Kavanagh House – a lot of what Deb does voluntarily is behind the scenes. When Deb sees a need, she simply takes care of it. She is generous in providing whatever it takes to help make an individual or organization better.  Many times, that is in the form of a monetary donation, but more times than not, it's in the form of practical goods and services - often accompanied by genuine emotional support.”

“Deb Milligan exemplifies all of the qualities that make for an effective and successful EveryStep volunteer,” said Tray Wade, EveryStep President & CEO. “She brings compassion, energy, thoughtfulness, and a wealth of knowledge and talents. We appreciate all that she does to support our organization and her genuine desire to see her fellow Iowans thrive.”

Deb’s career as a registered nurse in hospital and medical office settings has allowed her to look through the lens of a patient or client and identify ways to improve their experience with EveryStep’s healthcare and human service programs.

“I can see what our patients and families need at Kavanagh House to make their last days a good experience,” said Deb. “I enjoy being able to help the staff with patient care that others may not feel comfortable with.”

Her unparalleled leadership skills have helped her advocate for EveryStep and organize important events – both large and small – to raise funds to allow the organization to enhance their care for patients and clients across Iowa.

In fact, throughout the current COVID-19 pandemic, Deb and her husband George were the driving force behind a multi-million-dollar capital campaign to renovate EveryStep’s 27-year-old Kavanagh House on 56th Street hospice home.

“While being a volunteer at Kavanagh House, I appreciated what a great building and setting we had, but I noticed we needed improvements to benefit our patients,” said Deb. “Our goal was $3.5 million, and I am proud to say that even with a pandemic we were able to reach our goal in a year’s time.”

“Deb has always been a huge enthusiastic advocate of EveryStep!” said Katie Turner, a member of EveryStep’s Board of Directors. “I volunteer with her at Kavanagh House and she does whatever she can to help staff and patients. She is very focused on the organization and its success and she conveys that in her actions.”

Whether she is sharing her passion for EveryStep’s Stork’s Nest program, pulling weeds at the Kavanagh House on 56th Street hospice home, or organizing a fundraiser, Deb works tirelessly for EveryStep’s patients and clients. EveryStep would like to thank the United Way for recognizing the efforts of Deb Milligan, and we would like to congratulate Deb for earning this incredible, and well-deserved, award.