9 Who Care: Westercamp combines volunteerism and business savvy to help others

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Jeralyn Westercamp learned to juggle school and her volunteer work at a young age.

Jeralyn Westercamp (KCRG)

Now an employee at UIHC, she's learned how to combine her love of business, health care and helping others. Her grandparents served in World War II, inspiring her passion as a child to help veterans.

"I was just doing something simple like coloring turkeys for the VA hospital, so then we helped make kits and just help with holiday cheer,” Westercamp said.

In middle school, her awareness of the needs of others led to her first non-profit, Kids 2 Kids: Tools 4 Schools. Westercamp would collect school supplies for kids who needed them.

"I would actually get everything on the entire list and usually put it into a backpack or if there was a bag they had requested and fill it," Westercamp said.

That expanded to shipping supplies to kids in Iraq and sending books to an orphanage in Rwanda.

In the summer of 2008, a historic flood devastated Cedar Rapids. As the need for help surfaced in Westercamp’s hometown, she volunteered with the Salvation Army, passing out food to flood victims. That’s when she noticed another need.

"People would leave and would have stuff in their hands or stuff in their cars and they would be asking me, 'do you guys have can openers? Do you guys have bowls?'" Westercamp said.

They needed basic household items that Westercamp provided by creating another non-profit, CR HomeWorks. Following the flood, she helped more than 100 families.

Her professor and mentor at the University of Iowa, Ken Brown, knew he had a special student from the moment they met.

"What she wanted to do was continue what she'd been doing, which is making a difference in our community. She has learned so much by working with non-profits and creating her own non-profit organizations,” Brown said. "Jeralyn is an amazing role model for other students, because she didn't come here and do one thing, she came here and did a lot of things and she did each of them very well."

Along with hours of volunteer work and service on several advisory boards, she's earned five degrees at Iowa, plus her M.H.A and plans to graduate with an M.B.A this spring.

Along the way, she's received recognition for her work, including Iowa's Cherry Blossom Princess, a Freedom Festival Hero, Homecoming Court at Iowa, countless leadership awards and now, one of KCRG-TV9’s 9 Who Care.