Join us in giving two dozen thumbs ups for two dozen likeable people.
More than a half-million people call central Iowa home, and since our state is known for being “Iowa Nice,” it should come as no surprise that when we asked readers to determine the area’s most likeable man and most likeable woman again this year, the nominations poured in. We posted all of them on the Des Moines Most Likeable People Facebook page and asked readers to “like” their choices. During the ensuing weeks, the likes were cast and the final tally was taken.
This group of 24 honorees — listed on the pages herein — each has selected a charitable organization to support and give a shoutout to via their likeability, and the first-place vote-getting male and female each received $750 for a favorite nonprofit.
Who are the winners? You can find out by reading further, but first, we wish to give all 24 honorees one final thumbs up for being likeable and for working to help their special causes. These two dozen people — 12 women and 12 men — each participated to support the 24 nonprofits, also listed on the following pages, while providing an untold amount of shared joy, love and laughter. We salute you.
Editor’s note: The voting is over, and the final winners are set. As such, we are donating $750 to a charitable organization named by each of the first-place vote getters — one female and one male — as of the voting deadline. Since we like likeable people, it seemed appropriate to include the other honorees, too, along with each one of their special causes. It is likely that a few of you feel like someone else should have been included. That’s OK. We still like you. Just keep in mind that we didn’t select the finalists. Those who visited the Facebook page and posted their likes did.
Lives: Des Moines
Hometown: Los Angeles
Occupation: City of Des Moines Admin
Tastiest food? Gorditas de chicharron
Mantra to live by? “Feet, what do I need them for if I have wings to fly,” Frida Kahlo
Prediction for 2022? “I will fight to keep helping my community and especially making Knock and Drop Iowa grow.”
Spare-time fun? Sunday is family day, pretty much always for Garcia. “Unless, unfortunately, there is a huge donation I can’t say no to.”
Zuli Garcia supports: Knock and Drop Iowa
“How can a child in the U.S. go hungry,” asks Zuli Garcia, founding president of Knock and Drop Iowa and Des Moines’ Most Likeable woman for 2021. “How is this possible?”
Doing volunteer work is important to Garcia.
“I find it very rewarding helping others,” she says.
Her 9-to-5 is working for the Des Moines Police Department, but in her “off” hours, she goes to work figuring out ways to get food to people in need along with a team she helped build.
“We’re all volunteers,” she explains. “None of us get paid for this.”
In March of 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 headlines, Garcia was hearing of an increase in food insecurity especially in local Latino communities.
In some ways, the formula for feeding people sounds simple: get food donations and then distribute them. But the pandemic presented additional barriers. As Garcia decided to work toward getting something done, the Knock and Drop idea was born.
Since social distancing and other requirements restricted people’s access to one another, Knock and Drop would bridge the gap by dropping food at the doors of people in need and then knocking as they distanced. Problem solved. At least part of it.
“Some people were proud,” she sighs. “But we were struggling; everybody was.”
Since the work began in March, Garcia says her team has served 10,000-plus meals in its mission to combat food insecurity.
“And it’s growing,” she reports.
That number now stands at 20,000-plus meals.
“This is the first Latino Food Pantry in the Des Moines and Metro area,” she says. “If you love our food, what makes you think we don’t love it? We run a culturally specific Latino Food Pantry.”
What makes Zuli Garcia so likeable?
“I am a huge advocate for my Latino Community,” she says, adding later, “Why not use my spare time to give back to my community?”
Knock and Drop Iowa believes in making sure no one goes hungry. A child should never go to sleep with an empty stomach.
Knock and Drop Iowa is a non-profit organization designed to bridge the gap between the underserved and disadvantaged in the community with the resources available. Thousands of people live every day without food and other basic necessities. One of the main goals is to stop hunger by gathering food and providing it to those in need. Knock and Drop Iowa is funded by community support and donations. They are looking for volunteers and donations in order to assist more people.
Mission: Knock and Drop is an organization for positive community action by implementing programs that are beneficial to the Latino Community.
Vision: An engaged, vibrant and healthy community
Knock and Drop Iowa is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
It has been able to help hundreds of families all over Iowa during these vulnerable times by bridging the gap between the Latinx community and the local resources available.
For more information about how to donate or how to get help, visit www.knockanddropiowa.org.
Tony “T-bone” Schmid
Lives: Des Moines
Hometown: Des Moines
Occupation: Owner/operator of T-bone’s Outdoor Services; part-time bartender
Tastiest food? Alaskan King crab legs
Spare-time fun? Spending time with friends and family.
Mantra to live by? Always look on the bright side.
Prediction for 2022? The 2022 Des Moines St. Patrick’s day parade returns.
Tony “T-bone” Schmid supports: Kiwanis Miracle League
Described by some as loyal, kind, generous and outgoing, Tony “T-bone” Schmid is this year’s Des Moines’ Most Likeable man. Some might even say he is the “life of the party.”
“I’m a humble guy,” says Schmid.
Working as the owner/operator of T-bone’s Outdoor Services pays the bills — he is also a part-time bartender — but in his spare time, Schmid serves as president of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. During his three years in this role, Schmid has had many opportunities to work with charitable organizations.
“One of our main missions is to raise money and donate to local groups,” he explains.
Each of these is unique and special in some way, but Schmid won’t soon forget his personal experience helping out the special needs kids at Kiwanis Miracle League at Principal Park.
“It’s a joy,” he says. “Heartwarming.”
“As the president of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick of Iowa, I’ve had the chance to participate in the Miracle League’s baseball games at Principal Park and see firsthand what a donation can do.”
The Friendly Sons organization has been around since the 1970s, according to Schmid, and the parade for which it is best known started in the 1980s. His grandmother and other relatives participated early on and that’s how Schmid became involved.
“The first parade was 12 guys, I’m told,” explains Schmid. “Now, on a good year, we have one mile of cars and floats lined up with maybe 20-30 thousand attendees.”
Of course, COVID-19 and the ensuing pandemic have rained on this parade in recent years, but after two years with no major St. Patrick’s Day festivities, it should be all systems go this Thursday, March 17.
“The parade is scheduled,” he confirms. “We are going forward with it.”
The same is true for the Parade Tailgate Party put on by the Friendly Sons with food trucks, live music and a beer tent.
“It will be right on the parade route,” he says.
Also returning is the popular Friendly Sons drawing, held Thursday, March 17 this year, with a first place prize of two round trip plane tickets to Ireland.
“Buddies” assist Miracle League players. These buddies are mainstream children who play baseball, youth church groups, boys and girls scouts to mention a few. As a result, the parents, children and volunteers are all brought together — special needs and mainstream alike — in a program that serves them all through service to children with special needs.
Presently there are nearly 300 Miracle League Organizations across the country including Puerto Rico and Canada, 80 completed rubberized fields, and 100 fields under construction.
The Miracle League serves more than 25,000 children and young adults with disabilities.
The Kiwanis Miracle League at Principal Park was the first field in Iowa with hopefully more to follow.
As of 2021, there are 12 ML ball parks in Iowa — the most of any state.
Nationally, the goal is for 500 Miracle League fields including several international locations. Approximately 1.3 million children will be served. This goal is being realized with the help of communities, volunteers, parents, donators, individual sponsors and corporate sponsors.
“Every Child Deserves A Chance to Play Baseball.”
For more information on how to help or participate, visit www.kiwanismiracleleague.org.
The dandy two dozen
Des Moines’ Most Likeable People for 2021, with the first-place vote-getter listed first and then in no particular order.
Knock and Drop Iowa
iJAG – Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates
Can Do Cancer
The Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
Break The Cycle 200 (BTC200)
Great Outdoors Foundation – Raccoon River Pedestrian Bridge Project
Wyatt Halverson Hugs
The Hannah Geneser Foundation
Children’s Cancer Connection
Kiwanis Miracle League
Build Lincoln Higher Booster Club
IFAPA – Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parents Association
Pitt Hopkins Research Foundation
On with Life
Susan G. Komen Race for the cure
Iowa Bird Rehabilitation
Break The Cycle 200 (BTC200)
Iowa Army of Pink
National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
Grace United Methodist Free Clinic at 3700 Cottage Grove in Des Moines