Author Archives: Terri Speirs

Billie’s blog: Celebrate What’s Important in 2021: You!

by Billie Wade

January 2021 — I recall attaining a major goal and the urge to run into the street screaming and flailing my arms. Fortunately, reality tapped me on the shoulder immediately. Achievement feels good and even more so when someone acknowledges our effort. Recognition gives us the energy and enthusiasm of boosted self-confidence for the next step of the journey. And away we go, having lunged into our goal or milestone, we are off to the next without so much as checking to see if our shoelaces are still tied. Over time we wear down, feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, and ineffective. The “new and exciting” activities of going after our vision become tedious chores. We ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this? It’s all so pointless. Nobody else will even care.” Mistakes, inevitable though they are, become shrouds of failure. When we live with one or more mental health diagnoses, both the pleasant and the unpleasant of successful living may bat us back and forth like a ping pong ball. One way to help ease the anxiety and balance our experiences is self-celebration.

Self-celebration gets you off the gerbil wheel for a while. You exhale the tension of focused striving. You catch your breath and let it come naturally. You inhale the next breath for strength to grab the baton and begin the next leg of the journey. With that new, raw energy comes increased belief in yourself and what you are setting out to do. When you celebrate yourself—who you are, what you have endured, your achievements, and what you have overcome—you make a profound statement to yourself that you are valuable unconditionally because of your existence. Celebration sets you up for an amazing range of feelings and physical responses. Joy. Delight. Awe. Wonder. Giggles. Laughter. Grins. Smirks. Amusement. And even eye rolling. People who are particularly body-sensitive may feel their body “laughing or singing, or other sensations.”

Self-celebration makes you your Number One Fan. You are a priceless synergy of traits, skills, and wisdom. Your unique quirkiness makes you who you are. You enrich the world with all you do. When you are joyful, you infuse your life with magnetic cheer, and you spread it to those around you. Joy is free. Joy is contagious. Joy is an expression of profound gratitude. Abilities are common in three forms: innate, learned through deliberate study, and acquired through experience—think of the wisdom and insight you have gained in the School of Life. Ironically, your most emotionally painful experiences contain the richest wisdom. They illuminate your courage, resourcefulness, and resilience, Celebrate them.

Early on in self-celebration you may worry about sounding arrogant and unappreciative. You may have learned, as I did, at a young age bragging is a bad practice to start, so bad you could get “the look” or dispatched upstairs to clean your room. However, when you embark on a new endeavor which requires the approval of others, you receive a set of “have tos. ”You have to sell yourself. You have to toot your own horn. You have to convince ‘them’ you are the best.” These instructions, while meant to encourage you, can confuse you about when you can be proud of yourself and when it is not a good idea.

When sharing your good news invite others in by leading with your feelings, such as, “I have great news to share with you,” or “I am so happy. I can hardly wait to tell you…” or “I did it! I finally made it. ”Share the spotlight if someone helped you. Consider the people you trust. You may need to share with different people in a revved up or subdued manner. If your sister is your number one fan, pour on the exuberance. If your neighbor frowns on everything you do, approach sharing the news with a little caution, if telling the person is necessary.

So, what do you do? First, remember you are the ONLY person with you 24/7. So, you are the only person who truly knows the intensity of your efforts. Waiting for someone else to congratulate you may take a long time, or not come at all. While this can be hurtful, you can celebrate yourself and even invite others to join you. Get ready for self-celebration by engaging a conscious awareness of activities you enjoy and/or do well and your achievements. I have a running list of my accomplishments to which I add as needed. The notebook pages are made from stone paper—that’s right, paper made from stone! I titled the notebook “Etched in Stone” to help me remember my ability to contribute to my dreams and to the world in which I live. Self-celebration is a gift to yourself you can enjoy regardless of the presence of others.

Sometimes, you may have to shut down the critical voices yammering at you whether the person(s) is(are) sitting in the same room with you or the voice is from a memory. If self-celebration is daunting for you, talk to someone you trust—therapist, primary care provider, religious leader, spiritual director, friend, or family member. Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is here for you. Clinicians offering a vast array of support and guidance welcome you. To begin your journey toward healing, click here. (Terri, please make this a hyperlink. Thank you.) See my article, “How To Choose A Therapist” (August, 2020) (Terri, please make this a hyperlink. Thank you.)

I usually emphasize that a fancy journal is unnecessary. For self-celebration, however, I encourage you to find a journal that makes you smile and want to snuggle or that makes you feel powerful. It does not matter if you purchase your journal at a dollar store or at a bookstore in the mall. Or, if you are crafty, create a journal and embellish the cover and give your journal a name or title. The importance is in how the journal makes you feel each time you write. Stock up on colorful ink pens, pencils, and highlighters, and glitter. Use whatever color fits your mood at the time or color-code your entries.

Several years ago, I bought a charming journal based entirely on its visual appeal: a top-down image of a dragonfly set against a multi-color background. The nubby-textured brown-gray cover welcomed the dragonfly in without swallowing it. I liked the satiny feel of the muted green-grey pages, with a dragonfly in an upper corner of each page, perfect for brown ink. If you have not tried brown ink, I encourage you to do so. The journal lay in a drawer with other to-be-used-one-of-these-days companions while I waited for the “perfect” theme, that moment of worthiness of such a delightful book.

On June 9, 2020, I wrote the first entry: to dedicate my Dragonfly Journal to my emotional health and evolution. I claimed my dignity as a human being, proud of my abilities, innate as well as learned. I declared my intention to write only good stuff—Gifts of the Day, affirmations, mantras. Envision gratitude on steroids with lots of friends. All entries are positive words. Such as, “I safely arrived to and from all my destinations today,” rather than, “I didn’t have any traffic or shopping problems.” This was a bit tricky at first. The exercise helped me redefine my experiences and self-messages. I had to create a new vocabulary.

Here are some tips for Celebrating Wonderful You every day.

  • Use your celebration journal ONLY for the good stuff—unexpected acts of generosity, great parking spaces, getting home fifteen minutes before the thunderstorm rumbled overhead, a medical appointment with good news. Use your regular journal for working through experiences, problem-solving, and exploring your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
  • Write a list of everything you do well or love doing—from “I like the way I fold bath towels to I am an accomplished, respected astrophysicist with twenty years of experience”. Or, perhaps, you were present for a friend or completed an intense training. Be sure to number them so you can see the magnitude of your achievements, in quality as well as quantity.
  • Pause at least ten seconds between each item—set a timer if necessary—and sink into the pleasure of the moment.
  • Write just enough description that you will fully recall the experience when you reread the entry.
  • Each day, write at least one entry that expresses a minimum of five Gifts of the Day–more powerful than “Things I’m grateful for.” You will have so many Gifts on some days, remembering them all will be a challenge. That’s a good thing, a very good thing. Carry a small notebook with you always.
  • Use your social media or videoconferencing platform if you deem it appropriate.
  • If you have a videoconferencing account open a meeting and host a one-on-one session with yourself, with or without the video feature on.
  • Celebrate yourself as often as you want, anytime, anywhere. You do not have to say a word out loud, but I encourage you to do so. Hearing praise directed at you in your own voice can be quite powerful. Record it on your phone or computer and replay it whenever you need a boost
  • Celebrate your achievement repeatedly for as long as you like—just a smile is a celebration, an affirmation, a statement of enjoyment, about yourself. Sometimes, an inner smile is all you need.
  • Apply the wisdom of reaching your goal to the rest of your life.
  • Revisit your entries when you need a boost of confidence and say, “Wow, I rock!”

We continually seek meaning and fulfillment from our experiences. The achieving can sometimes overshadow the achievement. When we take time to be mindful and appreciative of the journey on our way to the destination, we invite meaning and fulfillment into the doing, which slows down the frenetic pace and sets us on a path of discovery as we achieve. In this respect, the journey is the goal as much as the destination. We do not have to be shy or embarrassed about who we are and what we do to live our life in fullness and contribute to the world in which we live, whatever that looks like for each of us.

Achieve. Enjoy. Celebrate. Repeat.

Billie’s blog index:

Media Release — Announcing 2021 Event Headliners

Angela Connolly and Tiffany Johnson will headline the 23rd annual fundraiser for the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

Media contact: Terri Mork Speirs, Director of Community Relations, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center,, 515-770-5155

2021 Honoree: Supervisor Angela Connolly, Polk County Supervisor

January 12, 2021 – The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is thrilled to announce a dynamic lineup of featured guests and co-chairs for the 23rd Annual Women Helping Women event. They, along with a fearless volunteer planning committee, will inspire the community to engage 500 guests and raise $210,000. Funds will support mental health counseling, education, trainings and other services that impact women, children and families who are uninsured or underinsured. Scheduled for May 21, 2021, the event is expected to be presented in a hybrid format, both online and in person, staged at the Embassy Suites downtown.

Honoree: Angela Connolly ~ influential, effective, visionary, and beloved community leader

In her role as a Polk County Supervisor, and as a mother, Angela Connolly is a longtime supporter of mental health access, and a champion for women, children and families. Her distinctive leadership and tremendous impact are demonstrated by her many community awards including induction into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016.

2021 Speaker: Tiffany Johnson, Producing Artistic Director, Pyramid Theatre Company of Des Moines

Speaker: Tiffany Johnson ~ award winning actor, director, teacher, and change-agent

Described as brilliant and captivating by her peers, Tiffany Johnson is passionate about our community. As producing artistic director and founding member of Pyramid Theatre Company, illuminating Black artists and diverse artistic expression, Tiffany is positioned to speak on the power of storytelling as a force for greater understanding, and uplift the worth of mental health access.

2021 Co-Chairs: Carol Bodensteiner, Renee Hardman, Emily Kessinger

The 30-member volunteer planning committee is led by a superstar team of co-chairs who each bring their own stamp of leadership and commitment to mental health access:

  • Carol Bodensteiner – public relations professional and author of numerous books including Simple Truth, a novel set in an Iowa meatpacking plant that asks complex social and moral questions
  • Renee Hardman – CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa, first elected African American Councilwoman in West Des Moines, inducted into the Iowa Women of Hall of Fame in 2020
  • Emily Kessinger – Director of Capital Crossroads, founder of Yellow Door DSM, founding partner at Flag of Des Moines, board member of the After School Arts Program (ASAP)

Carol Bodensteiner

Renee Hardman

Emily Kessinger

“I am proud to work with this bold group of women who assert their authority to care for others,” said Laurie Betts Sloterdyk, director of development at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. “The Women Helping Women event will be a healing balm for all who participate on May 21, and for vulnerable women, children and families who will benefit throughout the year.”

Since 1999, the annual event has raised more than $1.4 million for women who experience violence, poverty, trauma, depression, anxiety, abuse and other issues that can be addressed through counseling, psychiatry, self-discovery, and education.

The Center is one of few providers in Greater Des Moines who serve people from all income levels, including those from low-income households who are underinsured or uninsured – with thanks to generous community support.

For more information about Women Helping Women, or to reserve your seat early through a Leader gift or a sponsorship, please go to Or contact Laurie Betts Sloterdyk at 515-564-5122


The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a nonprofit organization with a mission to walk with people through counseling and education to find hope and healing, and live a fulfilling life. Annually, the Center serves more than 4,000 individuals (including nearly 700 children and adolescents plus their families), offering holistic mental health counseling and education through 30 multidisciplinary clinicians. The Center is one of few providers in Central Iowa who serve those who are uninsured or underinsured.

2021 Women Helping Women home page

Media review for hope and healing #1

The Heart Hunger for Wildness by Diane Glass

reviewed by Terri Mork Speirs, Director of Community Relations

I am a believer that storytelling is a powerful path to hope and healing. Stories remind us that we are not alone in our joy and pain, whatever they are.  I am pleased to offer thoughts on what I call a genre-bending book that blends poetry and memoir — reflections on one’s life in lyrical form. In this sleek new book of poems, author Diane Glass shares her life’s perspectives that are deeply unique to her yet universal to all of us. (For many years Diane has served instructor for the Center’s PrairieFire program.)

One of the many things I love about this slim volume is the clever ordering of chapters that clusters the poems into three themes: hunger, heart, wildness. And how the themes circle and flow within the chapters, and page to page. Her subjects range from the simple to the simply unimaginable. Her verses call us to pay attention, sometimes with proposed solutions placed cleverly in plain sight right before us. As if that’s how it works in the real world.

For example the last line on page 26 asks: “How do you want to live?”

The first line on page 27 seems to offer the perfect answer: “Curiosity.”

Ah, curiosity, what an antidote to pandemic and quarantine. But how to cultivate it when it can be hard to simply think? As one with self diagnosed covid-brain (extra short attention span), I like the white space poetry offers. I like the choices of short or shorter reads. I like the puzzle-like experience of reading out of order, and not worrying if I don’t immediately understand. I like being amazed when I do. I like that knowing that sometimes chaos can turn to order. And most times, it’s OK to just sit with the chaos.

Throughout the book, the author’s vivid imagery is at once lyrical and arresting, such as: “Take care of my plant, my stepson wrote in careful script in his suicide letter on the kitchen table of his apartment.” (p. 48) The four poems related to this line are like chapter-ettes of the full poem entitled “The Botany of Grief.” It is an exploration of suicide loss in plain words. The series of poems stunned me for both the beauty and sadness. How can there be both at the same time?

Her poems seek to make sense out of the nonsensical. Suicide. Illness. Racism. Divorce. While somehow weaving in the joy. Nature. Dancing. Wonder. New love.

You can read when you can. You can read one page. You can read ten pages. Put it by your favorite chair and pick it up a week later. You can remember that you are not alone.

Give the book to yourself, or to someone you love.


Diane Glass, author and PrairieFire instructor

Diane Glass brings a writer’s astute attention to detail and a spiritual director’s ability to probe the depths of meaning in everyday experience in her new book of poetry, The Heart Hungers for Wildness.

From the power of soup to change the world to the land’s willingness to talk with us if we listen, her poems testify to the joy of following the heart’s wild longings.

Along the way, she shares sorrows as well—losing a stepson, facing illness, living out the pandemic. You will come to better understand your own life passages and possibilities after reading this book.

Available at Beaverdale Books in Des Moines and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Did you know?

We wanted to be aware of some important CARES Act provisions that are scheduled to expire at year’s end. These provisions may affect you—and even make it easier for you to make a gift to the Center. They include:

• A temporary suspension of required minimum distributions (RMD) for the 2020 tax year. Beginning in 2021, the RMD rules will return unless Congress takes further action. If you are 70½ or older, you can still make a gift from your IRA or name us as a beneficiary.

• An expanded charitable giving incentive that allows taxpayers who take the standard deduction to make up to $300 in charitable cash contributions to qualified charities this year. The $300 deduction is per tax-filing unit, so the deduction is limited to $300 even for married taxpayers filing jointly.

• For those who do itemize their deductions, the law allows for cash contributions to qualified charities such as ours to be deducted up to 100% of your adjusted gross income for the 2020 calendar year.

To learn more about expiring charitable giving tax benefits this year call Laurie Betts Sloterdyk 515-564-5122 or email


Thank you to The Stelter Company for providing the above information.

Thanks to you, Mikey smiles again



You made a difference for one child.

Thanks to you, Mikey smiles again.

Pandemic. Divorce. Sadness. Some things seem impossible to explain to a seven-year-old, but Mikey is OK because you gave him the gift of counseling.

Through telehealth mental health therapy, Mikey has learned he is loved. His parents have learned to co-parent in two households. It isn’t easy but it is possible, thanks to you.

On #givingtuesday — we give thanks for you!

Did you know?

  • 700 children and teens plus their families are served annually through the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center’s specialized services called C.O.O.L. (Children Overcoming the Obstacles of Life).
  • The Center is a non profit organization serving more than 4,000 individuals annually through counseling and education — including psychiatry, psychological testing, renewal programs, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and other services.
  • The Center is one of the only mental health providers in Central Iowa who serves people from all walks of life, including those from low-income households who are uninsured or underinsured.
  • 40 percent of the Center’s services are subsidized, with thanks to a generous base of community support.

You can make a difference for another child.


You can access high quality, low cost counseling

Your mental health matters. High quality/low cost counseling services with immediate appointments are offered through the Center’s clinical training program, working with advanced graduate interns in their last year of training for mental health counseling. These interns receive robust clinical supervision by experienced Center clinicians.

Start your journey to healing by filling out this intake form now:

Sabrina Sartori Chouinard,
Intern Counselor
Laura Meade,
Intern Counselor
Sabrina Sartori Chouinard is an intern and Master of Social Work candidate from the University of Iowa. Sabrina has over 16 years of clinical psychology experience, is a licensed psychologist in Brazil, and was educated at UNISINOS in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Sabrina engages clients with holistic approaches, integrating the mind, body, spirit, and heart, attuning to culture, community, and relationship connections. Sabrina works with different interventions as mindfulness, stress management techniques, art therapy, CBT, ACT, DBT, and EMDR. During her internship, she is incorporating Trauma-Sensitive Practice and Spirituality Integrated approaches in her repertoire. Sabrina is bicultural and fluent in English and Portuguese. She enjoys helping adolescents and adults with eating disorders, attachment issues, anxiety, depression, grief and loss, and immigration, acculturation, and cross-cultural transitions (culture shock). Sabrina has 3 years’ experience using Telehealth before the pandemic, and in Sabrina’s spare time, she enjoys travel, the outdoors, and cooking with family and friends.Laura Meade is a student at Drake University earning her Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She joins the DMPCC team as an intern excited for the opportunity to work with clients and learn from her colleagues as she finalizes her degree. Laura is interested in providing therapy for adults of all stages, looking to resolve issues associated with anxiety, depression, life transitions, grief and trauma. Her integrative Client-Centered approach provides a flexible environment for therapy to match client needs. She believes that identifying client strengths and creating counseling partnership provides an ideal environment for growth and healing. After graduation, Laura looks forward to becoming certified in Perinatal Mental Health and specializing in the areas of grief and loss, trauma, and adjustment following sudden life changes. “We were never meant to go through life’s challenges alone and, above all, I want people to know that we don’t have to.”
Sabrina is supervised by Elaina Riley, L.I.S.W.Laura is supervised by Heidi Bowden, L.I.S.W.
read Elaina's bio here: Heidi's bio here:

2019 Annual Report

We gratefully acknowledge and thank all who so kindly contributed to the Center in 2019. This generosity brings hope and healing to children, teens and adults in need of high quality mental health services.

click image to launch PDF of annual report

VISIONARIES ($45,000+)
Prairie Meadows

CHAMPIONS ($25,000 – $44,999)
Fred Maytag Family Foundation

DEFENDERS ($10,000 – $24,999)
American Enterprise Group
Mary and Doug Bruce
Carlson Family Foundation
Doug A. Fick
Mary Gottschalk and Kent Zimmerman
Sally Wood
PATRONS ($5,000 – $9,999)
Hugh Gottschalk
The Grainger Foundation
Susan and Bill Knapp
Polk County Board of Supervisors
Kay and Bob Riley
The West Bancorporation Foundation, Inc.
Wells Fargo

HEALERS ($2,500 – $4,999)
Aureon Consulting
Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey
BWA Foundation
Cultivating Compassion: The Dr. Richard Deming Foundation
Sharon Goldford
Sally and Tom Graf
Trudy Holman Hurd
Charlotte and Fred Hubbell
The IMT Group
Dianne and Roger Jones
Plymouth Congregational UCC
Mary M. Riche
Rotary Club AM
Ernest and Florence Sargent Family Foundation
Susan and Carl Voss
Marti Wade
West Bank
Whitfield and Eddy Law
Kathleen and Larry Zimpleman

NURTURERS ($1,000 – $2,499)
Linda and Bob Anderson
B & G Foods
Bank of America
Dr. Barbara Beatty
Elizabeth Burmeister
Laura Coder-Olsen and Buck Olsen
Patty and Jim Cownie
Des Moines University
Easter Family Fund
Kathy and William Fehrman
Jann Freed and John Fisher
Judith and Marshall Flapan
Ann Flood
Foster Group, Inc.
Barbara and Michael Gartner
Gateway Market
Beth and Stephen Gaul
Janet and Gary Goodhall
Elizabeth Goodwin
Jeannine and John Hayes
Sarah and Jim Hayes
Starr and Harry Hinrichs
Ann and Thomas Holme
Debbie and Michael Hubbell
Ellen and James Hubbell
Rusty Hubbell
The Iowa Clinic Women’s Center
Iowa Foundation for Education, Environment, and the Arts
Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
Kate and Andy Juelfs
Linda and Tom Koehn
Virginia and Nix Lauridsen
Janet Linn
Nancy Main
Steve Marquardt
LaDonna Matthes
Meredith Corporation
MidAmerican Energy Company
Karla and Mark Minear
Brenda Mouw
D.J. Newlin
William and Pauline Niebur
Jill Oman
Lynsey Oster
Mary and John Pappajohn
Stephanie Pearl
Shirley Poertner
Deb and Bob Pulver Foundation
Iowa Radiology
Kelle Rolfes
Janis Ruan
Salon Spa W
Jackie Saunders and Cecil Goettsch
David Shaw
Drs. Rebecca and Robert Shaw
Silver Fox
Rachel Stauffer
Kathy and Ted Stuart
Mary H. Stuart and David Yepsen
Nanette D. Stubbs
Marsha Ternus
The Viking Foundation of Lincoln
Rhonda and Joe Watton
Connie Wimer
Zanzibars Coffee Adventure

ADVOCATES ($500 – $999)
Susan and Mark Ackelson
Larry and Linda Anderson
Sandra L. and Rev. Paul R. Axness
Mollie and Britt Baker
Janet and Charles Betts
Carol Bodensteiner
Margaret and Arden Borgen
Central Presbyterian Church
Beth and Tim Coonan
Davis Brown Law Firm
Marsha and Ellery Duke
David J. Egleston
Carrie and Jeff Fleming
Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
Rosalie Gallagher
Renee Hardman
Lori and Larry Hartsook
Jody and Thomas Herman
Trudie and Hal Higgs
Dixie Hoekman
Joanie and Dan Houston
Anne M. and E.J. Kelly
Mary Kramer
Kristen and Joseph Lee
Jennie Legates and Fritz Wehrenberg
Jennifer Lock Oman
Judy McCoy Davis
Rachel and Bill McDonough
Matt Meline
Robyn Mills
Diane Morain
Barbara and Dan Mueller
Barb and Andy Nish
Beth Nyguard
Jeanne and Jim O’Halloran
Rep. Jo Oldson and Brice Oakley
Muriel and Jim Pemble
Dr. Michael and Ann Richards
Dawn and Steve Roberts
Lita and David Sagula
Patrice Sayre
Melanie Scupham
Randal and John Stern
Hallie Still-Caris
Aundrea Suntken
The Graham Group
University Dental
Bob and Karen Unrau
Toni and Tim Urban
Teresa Van Vleet-Danos
Veridian Credit Union
Dr. Teri Wahlig
Margi Weiss
Willis Auto Campus
Dr. Judy Winkelpleck

SUPPORTERS ($250 – $499)
Judith Akre
Rep. Marti Anderson and Bob Brammer
Anonymous (2)
Becky Anthony
Stephanie Asklof
Barbara and John Bachman
Connie Beasley
Kristen Benge
Christine Bening
“Sandy Benson Johnson,
Benson Family Foundation”
Jan and Frank Berlin
Kathryn and Tom Bernau
Beth and David Bishop
Christie and Bob Boesen
Connie and Ted Boesen
Meredith and J.R. Boesen
Nancy Bone
Michelle Book and Woody Brenton
Mary Boote Roth
Katie Bradshaw
Annie and Matt Brandt
Phyllis and Richard Cacciatore
Kevin and Julie Carroll
Casey’s General Stores, Inc.
LaNae and Joe Ceryanec
Joyce Chapman
Nancy and Gordon Cheeseman
Sue Clark
David and Alicia Claypool
Renee Clippert
Margaret-Ann and Joseph Comito
Julie Ann and Michael Connolly
Cynde Cronin
Cathy Crowley
Delores Davis
Amy and Tom Donnelly
Richard and Cris Douglass
Margaret and Kevin Doyle
Michael Egel
Karen Engman
Denise Essman
Theresa and Mark Feldmann
First Christian Church
First United Methodist Church
Fran Fleck
Jim and Allison Fleming
Jessica Giesinger
Kathy and Scott Giles
Shawna and Paul Gisi
Debbie Gitchell
Diane Glass and J. Jeffrey Means
Linda Goeldner
Judith Goodwin
Barbara Graham
Bonnie Green
Malinda Wiesner Hammerstrom
Dr. William and Lynn Heggen
Cara and Kurt Heiden
Barbara and Doug Hein
Michelle Hogan
Bev and Michael Hutney
Connie and Isaacson
Andrea James
Martha James and Michael Myszewski
Linda L. Jennings
Maureen Keehnle
Onnalee Kelley
Holly Kluever
Wendy Kriegshauser
Mary F. and Charles Kunkel
Marla Lacey
Patricia and Tom Larson
Martha and Christine Lebron-Dykeman
Caroline Levine
Christine Lewis
Marian and Ivan Lyddon
Sharon and Susan Malheiro
Robbie and Rick Malm
Cyril and John Mandelbaum
Drs. Kate and Doug Massop
Diane and Arthur McClanahan
Claudette and Patrick J McDonald
Andrea and Dan McGuire
Cathy McMullen
Jan and John Mechem
Ann Michelson
The Middleton Family
Lisa Minear
Jana Montgomery
Debra Moore and Donn Stanley
Christin Murphy
Kurt Ness
Liz and Rick Neumann
Dawn Connet and Greg Nichols
Roy and Mary Nilsen
Charlotte and James Noble
Jackie and John Norris
Cynthia O’Brien
Noreen O’Shea and Thomas Benzoni
Sen. Janet Petersen and Brian Pattinson
Donna Paulsen and Tom Press
Gail Pearl
Sally Pederson and Jim Autry
Allison and Timothy Peet
Deanna Questad, M.D.
Kurt and Lynette Rasmussen
Kathy Reardon
Dennis Rhodes and Mary Kay Shanley
Maureen Roach Tobin and Terry Tobin
Susy Robinette
Helen Robinson
Janet and Mark Rosenbury
Katie Roth
Priscilla and David Ruhe
Katherine and Charles Safris
Sam Scheidler
Deb Wiley and John Schmidt
Pam Schoffner
Andrea and Adam Severson
Judy and Larry Sheldon
Marti Sivi
Laurie and Ashley Sloterdyk
Peter Sloterdyk
A. Joyce Smith
Sue and Larry Sonner
Kelly and Kurt Sparks
Terri Mork Speirs and Robert Speirs
Joan Stark
Sheila Starkovich Lingwall
Beth Stelle-Jones
Ellen Strachota
Dr. David and Gail Stubbs
Cheryl Sypal
Joyce and Harold Templeman
Amy Valdes
Sara Van WynGarden
Lisa Veach
Susan Vujnovich-McRoberts
Charlene and Mark Vukovich
Chris Waddle
Sandi and Steve Ward
Marilyn Warling
Linda Weidmaier
Tracy Wheeler
Michele and Steve Whitty
Jean and Bob Williams
Emily Williams-Bouska
Martha Willits
Rena S. Wilson
Dr. Carey Wimer and Dr. Sean Cunningham
Roberta and Reg Yoder
Friends ($100 – $249)
Amazon Smiles Foundation
Terra and Jay Amundson
Anonymous (2)
Beverly Apel
Valoree Armstrong
Doug Aupperle
Michelle Bartusek
Morgan Baumert
Glenys Bittick Lynch
Patricia Boddy and Robert Davis
La Verne and Blaine Briggs Donor Advised Fund at the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation
Kate Bruns
Rachel Bruns
Kathy Burger
Ellen and John Burnquist
Judith Burns
Paul and Nancy Burrow
Mary and Crom Campbell
Marilyn and Frank Carroll
Eva and David Christiansen
John and Holly Clark
Tari Colby
Patricia and Jay Cramer
Kay Crose
Abbe Davidson
Lori and Tim Diebel
Rachel and Zach Eubank
Ruth Foster
Sarah Frieberg
Shayla and Joel From
Mary Ann and Gene Gardner
Mary Susan and Richard Gibson
Sandra Githens
Suzie Glazer Burt
Eve and Darrell Goodhue
Phyllis Goodman
Mary Helen and David Grace
Mary and Al Gross
Kay Grother
Gary A.T. Guthrie
Happy Medium
Rachel Hardin
Sandra Heagle
Kathleen Heinzel
Jane Hemminger
Rolland Riley and Carol Hibbs
Kelli Hill
Jill Hittner
Keith and Brenda Hobson
Dale and Robert Howe
Alexandra K. Hubbell
Jody Ingersoll
Tessa and Mark Isaacson
Brooke Johnson
David King
Jenna Knox
Pam Koster
Rod Kruse
Carmen Lampe Zeitler and John Zeitler
Angela Loomis
Ali Makris
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Mary Yearns

COMPANIONS (gifts up to $99)
Sophia Ahmad
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Barbara Amend
Kirsten Anderson
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Anonymous (6)
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Gifts in Kind
Business Publications Corp.
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Honor Gifts
Gifts were given in honor of: Given by:
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Memorial Gifts
Gifts were given in memory of: Given by:
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Mr. Val Gray Mardell and Dean Ahnen
Winnie Hayes John and Jeannine Hayes


Kathy Reardon – pioneer and educator

Dr. Jeff Means, licensed psychologist

(Back to Kathy Reardon tribute home page)

by Jeff Means, Ph.D., M.Div., licensed psychologist at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

As a pioneer and educator, Kathy brought new energy and vision to the Center. Over the many years we worked together, I came to respect Kathy’s centered sense of purpose, the compassion with which she listened deeply and intently to the longing spirits of those she served, and her strong and resilient character that would aid her in reinventing herself several times throughout her career. Kathy made these traits visible through her practice with individuals who sought her out, and they were expressed more widely throughout the Center as she took on the roles as a persuasive and tenacious advocate, relentless recruiter and perceptive translator.

I first met Kathy when Ellery Duke invited me to join him for a breakfast meeting with her at the Village Inn on University Avenue in West Des Moines. As I recall, Kathy had recently returned from a retreat with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie – one of her sacred places, and a place to which she would periodically return for strength and renewal. The purpose of the meeting was to learn more about Kathy and what her skills might bring to the Center’s work and mission.

In her vocational life, Kathy transitioned from her work as a Registered Nurse and counselor to a focus on wholistic healing, with training in Healing Touch and Spiritual Direction. Ellery and I came away from that meeting with a strong belief that Kathy’s background and perspective could benefit clients and enrich the clinical consultations among Center staff.

For a long time, Kathy faithfully attended case consultation and intake staffing groups advocating for a wholistic view of clients and their presenting problems. She stretched our thinking beyond more familiar psychological formulations. Her knowledge of energy work and the leading of the Spirit perplexed those of us steeped in psychological theory and traditional theology. Despite her skills at teaching and persuading, she faced the resistance of our implicit theoretical biases and the difficulty of opening our minds to how our clients could benefit from all she knew. Over time, the lack of counselor referrals from colleagues, and the lack of a felt sense of being valued as an equal part of the team, wore her down.

As pioneers do, when one path is blocked, they look for another route. Kathy took initiative as a relentless recruiter and mobilized her own referral base through the personal, professional, and religious networks she created. As clients came to see her at the Center, she helped them reflect on their human condition through her work as a Healing Touch practitioner and Spiritual Director. Kathy built a successful practice at the Center as her reputation blossomed as a respected teacher and wholistic practitioner. With her finely honed skills, Kathy provided comfort to those suffering from chronic pain and various health conditions, those struggling with life transitions, and those seeking a deeper spiritual life.

Through hard work, and her expanding knowledge and deepening commitment to Contemplative Spirituality, Kathy created the foundation for what, to my mind, was her major contribution to the Center’s life and mission – the development and subsequent institutionalization of PrairieFire. In collaboration with Kay Riley, Kathy brought the knowledge base and personal, contemplative practice experience needed to realize the vision of a non-therapeutic, group approach to rich personal growth and deepening spiritual development. She did this through the contributions she made to curricular content and teaching of the month-to-month didactic and experiential offerings of the program, her laser focus on the importance of the spiritual and personal growth of participants, her skill at building safe and sustaining communities of deep listening and mutual respect, and her persistent marketing and organizational skills.

Drawing upon the networks she had developed in the church and contemplative communities in Des Moines, Kathy’s relentless efforts at recruiting participants to the early offerings of PrairieFire were crucial to its wide success. Her skill at translating for folks the deeper spiritual longings that lay beneath many life difficulties and disappointments captured the imagination of people and made PrairieFire the amazing success it has achieved. Through sheer force of will, and her deeply held commitment to the growth and development of the spiritual lives of people, Kathy breathed life into a whole new dimension of the Center’s work. Because of the gift of herself, PrairieFire’s influence has grown well beyond the walls of the Center. Graduates now engage their respective communities in new ways, and an entirely new community of Spiritual Directors practice throughout the State.

As is often the case when Spirit takes the lead, none of us present in that first meeting at the Village Inn could have glimpsed what would actually lay ahead for Kathy’s work with us, or the many ups and downs her journey with us would take.  But the pioneering contributions she made are now etched into the soul of the Center, and they will continue to enrich many souls for a long time.

(back to Kathy Reardon tribute home page)

Kathy Reardon made the Center better

(back to the Kathy Reardon tribute home page)

by James E. Hayes, D.Min., executive director and spiritual director at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

Kathy Reardon has made the Center better in many ways since she joined us in 2001. That’s why it was difficult for me to hear when she asked for some time last month to inform me that she planned to retire from the Center at the end of July 2020. Difficult to hear and yet I’m happy for her as this pandemic has helped her to discern the next chapter of her life and how she can continue to make a difference in the lives of others. She is already missed. Though she is retiring from the Center, she remains energized by her spiritual direction practice. She has found virtual meetings from her home cloister to be fruitful and she looks forward to continuing that practice. We look forward to her staying connected to the Center and being a resource for future inspirational offerings.

In typical Kathy fashion, she didn’t want to make a big deal about her retirement. Those who know her understand that she’s a contemplative at heart—and an introvert. Being the center of attention causes discomfort. Those who know her and how much she’s contributed to the Center also know that she has been a big deal in making a difference. She changed the way we serve by bringing her breadth of skills to the service of our mission. She created new services; changed our vocabulary as she helped us to understand words like “healing touch;” brought the heart of a prophet to our systems so that all might be treated with equal shares of love. I was privileged to experience many of her gifts in our short three years of working together. She helped me to understand this place as she asserted her leadership skills and gave me sound advice on issues that needed tending as I started my time as an executive director. She was a confidant when I needed advice on difficult decisions. She helped me to understand better what holistic healing means in our work. Most importantly, she helped me to grow in my own understanding of ultimate mystery through formal workshops and simple daily comments in the workplace that alerted us all to the depth of each moment in the context of the everlasting now. Thank you Kathy!

As my time with Kathy was not decades in length, I asked colleagues who had such tenure to share some thoughts about Kathy’s contributions.

From Susan Ackelson, former Center counselor who also retired recently:

Kathy brought a focus on the body and spirituality with her holistic nursing, healing touch and spiritual direction along with her training in mental health.  The body aspect was completely new for the Center and her work in helping us integrate this new aspect of holistic treatment was critical.  She helped us expand our knowledge of other therapeutic body practices by inviting practitioners of alternative health modalities to meet the staff.  She then initiated community education forums for our clients and community members to educate on alternative health modalities.  She also developed a holistic assessment tool for therapists to use in evaluating their clients. Kathy led a weekly meditation group for our staff for years. 

From Ellery Duke, licensed psychologist and former executive director:

I recall the breakfast meeting at Village Inn in 2001when Jeff, Eileen and I met with Kathy about the prospect of her joining the Center’s staff, doing spiritual direction and Healing Touch.  We of course wanted her to bring spiritual direction and Healing Touch to the Center’s growing interest in the integration of mind, body, and spirit healing.  Kathy brought her understanding of, and expression of healing based in her nursing and spiritual direction backgrounds.  Through the ideas of Kathy, Jeff Means, Kay Riley, and others, the highly regarded PrairieFire program was launched.  Over 100 have been trained through PrairieFire.  It was through Kathy’s ground-breaking work in spirituality at the Center that Diane McClanahan came on board to further expand the Center’s offerings in spirituality and ministry.  Kathy’s spirit-based, mindful approach to life has certainly shaped how the Center expresses its mission.  Thank you.

As the pandemic precludes any formal gathering, we hope to gather more such thoughts to celebrate Kathy’s contributions to our mission. Feel free to send your recollections and notes of gratitude to her directly. If you send them to the Center, we’ll make sure she gets those. At some point we hope to have an appropriate celebration for any who have retired in this age of pandemic.

If you are interested in honoring Kathy with a donation to the PrairieFire fund,  you may donate here.

With gratitude for the many people touched by Kathy’s work, we ask that she be blessed with abundant life as she begins this next chapter of her life’s story.