DES MOINES, Iowa — Roberta Yoder has a special gift, connecting people.
“I guess I listen to people and opportunities present themselves, I’m kind of a connector I guess,” said Yoder.
She is using that gift to change the lives of people in Iowa and around the world.
Roberta has impacted countless lives and has worn numerous hats, so many hats it’s hard to keep track. Serving on multiple boards and advisory councils, leading mentorship programs and volunteer groups, but these titles are just the tip of the iceberg for Yoder says Linda Kramer, a friend who nominated her in the Remarkable Woman initiative.
“She doesn’t give up, she sustains things, and it’s the lives, the…I want to say, hundreds of lives she has affected,” said Kramer.
A lifelong learner, with a passion for education, receiving her Masters from UNI@DMACC at an unlikely time in her life.
“There was no stopping me, although I was 62 years old at the time, I was just thrilled to be back in school,” said Yoder.
She’s ensuring that others have the same opportunity with an endowed scholarship at the University of Northern Iowa for students majoring in English Education.
“I want these students at UNI to have all of the encouragement that they can, and also not have to work three jobs so that they can be involved in other activities on campus,” said Yoder.
Her mission extends far beyond the state of Iowa. Yoder got to work educating women in Tanzania after seeing firsthand the roadblocks they face.
“We asked why they were in the middle of the day walking along the road, well they had been sent home from school the first day of the school year because they didn’t have the fees,” said Yoder.
Yoder spearheaded a scholarship program with her church, allowing young Tanzanian women to stay in school who otherwise would not have educational opportunities. “Now we have 95 students going to secondary school,” said Yoder.
She has also connected local surgeons to Tanzanian children with disabilities.
“The very next time we were there, the place where we stayed, they had a little boy with bowed legs, so we took pictures of him and got back and got in touch with this orthopedic surgeon. He did the surgery. This boy has beautifully straight legs,” said Yoder.
With the word out, Yoder has helped three other young children receive braces or corrective surgery, while also aiding in hospital supplies like recovery beds.
Her current mission? Working with rotary clubs on their water project, to bring clean water to Tanzanians.
“If girls don’t have to walk kilometers to get water for their family, they can go to school,” said Yoder.
WHO 13’s Lindsey Burrell asked Yoder how she managed to accomplish all of these things, and her answer was this:
“It’s like, it is right here in front of me how can I not, you know, I feel called to help as best I can,” saying she is not done yet.