Our partner agencies have achieved such a high-level of success that it is important to share some of these stories. The stories below have been written by and provided by the agencies. Please use them as you advocate within the community.
* signifies a new success story
American Red Cross
In the Waverly-Shell Rock area, the Red Cross responded to 12 disasters, all house-fires, affecting 38 people. The Red Cross assisted them with lodging, food, clothing and other necessities totaling over $7,100. The Red Cross relayed emergency messages to military overseas for 25 families that reside in the Waverly-Shell Rock area.
Mary started volunteering with the Red Cross back in the 70’s, but took time off to raise her family. When her children were grown, she returned to the Red Cross as a Disaster Response Volunteer, taking Disaster Relief and Preparedness courses here at the Red Cross. This past June, Mary was on the Disaster Response team that responded to a tornado that ripped through Minneapolis this past year. Mary spent 15 days organizing, and feeding, victims of the tornado; as well as working in the Red Cross Shelter assisting dislocated families. When interviewed about her experience Mary stated, “It was great to be part of the team….I would urge anyone to get involved with the Red Cross. There are so many different ways to assist, a little or a lot, locally or far and wide; all are needed and appreciated.”
* Allison Area Foster Parents Support Group
In 2011, we were able to assist several families in accepting foster placements due to the fact that we had cribs, car seats, and other items in our lending closet that we could loan them. Using United Way and other funding, we were able to provide 36 children and youth with the backpacks and school supplies they needed to begin the school year; we were able to provide child care for 20-25 children so their parents could attend our meetings and access training to help them in their role as foster parents; we were able to provide a structured environment for teens while their parents attended our meetings.
*Big Brothers Big Sisters
(From a Big)
I was a Big Brother for my friend Darian for about three years. Darian is now 16 years old and I am very proud of the young man that he is becoming. We have spent lots of time together over the past few years doing lots of fun activities like fishing, playing games, working on projects and just hanging out together.
Darian is a great kid who needed some positive influence in his life and I did my best to offer that to him.
Darian is now in high school and has matured quite a bit since I met him when he was 12 years old. The time that we spent together was very special for me and I believe that I set a good example for Darian. He has certainly provided me with a great experience and I made a friend for life.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a great program that gives kids a chance to spend time with an adult who has some common interests with them and gives
them an adult friend who they can count on. Please help me support this important organization.
* Boy Scouts of America, Winnebago Council
Troop 90 (Waverly) has a young man who started Scouting a couple of years ago who was very reserved. The leaders didn’t think that he even wanted to be involved with Scouting at the time. When camping, all he wanted to do was go home to his family. However, as he worked on his merit badges and advancement, while interacting with the other boys and leaders in the Troop, he started to grow into a fine young man. Since, he has taken leadership positions within the Troop and defined himself as a servant leader. He looks for things that need to be done, and quietly does them, without expecting recognition, although the leaders make sure he knows that he is appreciated. He takes younger scouts under his wing and provides them a great example. This fine young man epitomizes what scouting is all about.
Bremwood - Woodhaven Shelter
Woodhaven Shelter received a call from a parent residing in the Waverly area stating their 13 year old boy was having problems in the home. It was reported he was physically aggressive towards all members of the household, was exhibiting yelling and lying, and not following house rules. The boy was brought into the shelter for temporary placement to help mediate what was going on in the home. During his stay the shelter staff conducted a family team meeting that included the child and the family. During this meeting the issues at home were addressed along with strengths that the family identified together. Shelter staff, the child and the family came up with goals for all to work on. While in the shelter the boy was able to work on anger management skills, coping skills and also identifying and understanding his crisis cycle. The boy did well and was able to be discharged from the shelter after a two day stay. Shelter staff worked with the family in addressing issues that not only the child could do but also areas where the parents could improve the home environment. The boy was able to identify the need to work on taking accountability for his actions and controlling his temper. The parents were able to identify their need to work on holding the child accountable. Before discharge the family was set up with different resources within the community to aid in maintaining a positive home environment. These resources included on going family therapy and individual remedial services for the child. Shelter staff late followed up with the family and it was reported that everyone was doing well. The family was prevented from becoming involved with DHS.
* Cedar Valley Friends of the Family
(from a client)
Dear Cedar Valley Friends of the Family,
I can never thank you enough for all you've done for me and my two little girls, and we will never forget you for giving us a true safe place to play our heads and begin again.
This past August, after being on the run from my husband, being turned away by my family in Chicago, and a horrific shelter experience there; I took a chance and began calling domestic violence shelters in Iowa. When I called CVFF the person I spoke with was caring, understanding, and concerned. She didn't know me, but I felt that her kindness toward me was a sign that Waverly, Iowa, was where I should go. We headed out that evening at 10:30 pm.
From the time we arrived until the day they assisted with our relocation, the staff at CVFF has been so warm, gracious, and encouraging, that I will always consider them friends of mine, as well as my baby girls'.
The Waverly shelter has got to be one of the best in the nation, because of their genuine concern, generosity, comfortable, home-like structure, as well as their non-pressure approach to safeguarding battered women and their children.
No shelter experience can take the place of having your own home, but CVFF, from my experience, stands heads above the rest. May God always bless their staff and contributors for the honorable work.
Amy, Sarah, and Beth
* Exceptional Persons, Inc. - Multiple Sclerosis Services
In the last year 40 people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) have used the services of the Multiple Sclerosis Program in the Waverly-Shell Rock Area. While many people receive individual services, at least 10 people regularly attend the monthly support group meeting in Waverly. While the group is lead by a Social Worker with 20 years experience working with people affected by MS, they are a supportive community within the community. At meetings they learn emotionally healthy ways to cope with the many changes and losses MS can impose on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. They learn about medical treatments, share ways of managing symptoms and services available in the community. They laugh, cry and share their deepest thoughts within the safety of a group of people who understand. With the guidance of an experienced leader conversations are helpful and hopeful so they can face day-to-day life affected by MS with courage.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois
The Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois were able to restart the Bremwood Girl Scout program which now serves 18 girls on the Bremwood Campus. These 13-17 year-old girls are able to participate in traditional girl scout programs where they typically would not have been able to due to their home, life, and economical situations. Girl Scouts is giving them positive tools that will be transformed into life skills for these girls.
The Inclusion Connection's best success story was through the Communication Training. Four persons who had never had any verbal speech ability obtained the use of communication technology to express themselves and make choices. This has been overwhelming for the families and professionals within the field. The number of new persons who receive training and support continues to expand through the W-SR United Way's donation for the Communication Kit. We are seeking to expand this training provided by Dr. Hendrickson and Ms. Hanson in the future.
* Northeast Iowa Community Action Center
In 2011 the W-SR UW CrisisFund provided the funding for us to assist 50 households, containing 110 individuals, in a crisis with housing or utilities.
Northeast Iowa Food Bank
Last month, a gentleman came into a local food pantry for emergency food assistance. He and his family had fallen victim to a fire that had claimed their home and left two small children in the hospital with smoke inhalation. The gentleman and his wife simply needed food among other items to get them through this terribly difficult time. In addition to receiving emergency food assistance, the family also received a variety of personal care products. The great loss that his family endured is unexplainable, but the Pantry looks to do its part in helping his family recover.
* North Star Community Services
Meet Jill Meyer, who is a 29-year old woman residing in Shell Rock, IA. Jill has been receiving services from North Star Community Services, Inc. in Waverly for more than ten years, both in day programs and in supported community living.
Meet Anastasia Lundt who grew up in Pocahontas, Iowa, and is currently a Wartburg College senior living with her three roommates in Waverly. She is a biochemistry major who is hoping to attend pharmacist school when she graduates in May of 2012. Towards that goal, she works during breaks from school and in the summer at the Pocahontas Pharmacy, owned by Pat and Mary Sturtz.
The pair met four years ago through the Best Buddies program after Anastasia, then a freshman, attended an Involvement Fair at Wartburg. Best Buddies is an organization that pairs people with intellectual disabilities with college students. Members are asked to make a one-year commitment, contact their buddy weekly, and try to get together at least twice a month. It is through these friendships the “buddies” are encouraged to be self-advocates and community leaders, all the while making lifelong friendships. Anastasia states, “I am just so glad that I made the decision to get involved with the Best Buddies program; it has been one of, if not the best decision of my college career.”
Jill and Anastasia try to get together at least twice a month. They like to go out to eat, and they both name Texas Roadhouse as their favorite. Jill and Anastasia attend many large group events held at Wartburg, usually following the event with a trip to Taco John’s. When they get together, they also enjoy watching movies, baking cookies, or simply lounging around watching T.V.
When asked what Anastasia like best about Jill, she said, “her smile and sense of humor.” She wrote that being friends with Jill has taught her that, “the simple things in life are the most important. Laughter is always the best medicine, but it never hurts to supplement with good food!”
When Jill was asked what she likes to do with Anastasia she answered, “She likes to go out to eat. She likes to watch me bowl. Anastasia watches movies at my apartment with me.” Jill also said that, “She’s my friendship! Been friends a long time. She’s nice, she’s fun, she’s smart.”
Melissa Hovenga, who is Jill’s primary Community Living Specialist at North Star, has this to say about the women’s relationship, “Anastasia brightens Jill’s day every time she calls her and when they do something together. Jill looks forward to doing anything with Anastasia. When Anastasia goes home for breaks, she still keeps in touch with Jill by calling her and Jill lights up. I help Jill pick out a special Christmas gift for Anastasia each year. Anastasia will be hard to replace when she graduates, but I’m sure the friendship will continue for a lifetime.”
At North Star we try to help our consumers to develop “natural supports and community relationships.” But, what is natural support? A natural support is someone who is not paid, who doesn’t also have a disability, and is based on common interests (i.e.: a “typical” community member). Natural supports give us all a sense of belonging since we know that others just want to be with us because they like us. The friendship that has developed between Jill and Anastasia is a terrific example of this. Anastasia is a wonderful example of young people who are getting involved and making a difference in our communities - not just here in Waverly, but all over Iowa and beyond. These kinds of experiences can inspire other young men and women (our future leaders) to get involved through programs like “Best Buddies” and illustrates how one person can make a huge impact on the life of someone else.
Pathways Behavioral Services
Last summer we were able to provide a group for girls 9-11 that had no cost for the families. The W was also involved in providing an instructor to do yoga at the end of each class as we worked on body awareness. The girls enjoyed this and we hope to do this again this summer.
The Larrabee Center
W-SR Area United Way, please accept our sincere appreciation for the award that will assist us with purchasing 6 laptop computers for our clients to learn and practice computer skills at the new office and training center. With your assistance The Larrabee Center will be able to begin the computer training sooner than we originally projected.
There are over 40 disabled clients that participate in the education classes at the new training center. The goal is to provide various levels of computer training so every client has an opportunity to learn and practice computer skills. For the higher functioning clients the goal is to help them with job related skills such as resumes, applications and job searching. This is an exciting opportunity for the clients and staff at The Larrabee Center.
The Salvation Army
With the help of the Waverly-Shell Rock Area U nited Way and the local Waverly Salvation Army Service Team, we can help the less fortunate make ends meet, and maintain a home for their families.
* Together for Youth
Bremwood is located in Waverly, Bremer County, Iowa. Our TFY staff has been doing adolescent pregnancy prevention work at Bremwood for a few years now. Most of the students there are in residential treatment or in foster care. Last fall, for the first time, we were able to offer a complete curriculum to each high school student at Bremwood AEA and in the Bremwood cottage classrooms. This curriculum required TEN sessions with each of the 5 groups of students. From the very first day we started this we were aware that these students have been in a number of different schools and placements. Several of them remembered our Health Educators in a positive light, from those previous placements. Rapport building was quick and within only a few days of programming, Health Educators were being greeted by smiles and a welcoming classroom. Over the 10 weeks, we covered some intense subject areas, including STDs, refusal skills, the importance of condom usage, negotiating contraception and condom use with a partner and the steps to correct condom use. By the time we were into session #9, students were realizing that we were nearly finished. Several expressed disappointment in that fact. One student said, "Every time we get used to someone, they leave." While that remark made our Health Educator sad for the young people, it was testimonial to the ability of staff to build that level of comfort and rapport. Bremwood principal, Justin Stockdale, invited us back to provide some "booster" programming to those same students. Scheduling for the complete ten-session curriculum will be set again, for this fall, 2012.
* Visiting Nursing Association
One success story for the Foot Clinic program is a 90 year old female who lives alone in Waverly. She is unable to reach her feet and can’t take care of toenails. When they get too long, they cause her pain and discomfort. She doesn’t know what she would do without her trips to the foot clinic each month.
*Waverly Child Care & Preschool
(From a client)
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing Johnathon the opportunity to come and share his time and drawing talents with the children in the after school program. He really enjoyed it and is excited with the enthusiastic participation and positive feedback he received from Jeni and the children. We are looking at our calendars to see when we can coordinate another day to do this again.
This experience not only gave Johnathon the experience of community service, but it gave him the experience of being in a different role teaching the children. This will help him to grow in areas of leadership and confidence in working with larger groups and instruction.