Robin Kern, of Crescent, Iowa, is a woman who sees a need and imagines a solution. In the fall of 2018, Robin realized that children at MICAH House, an emergency shelter in Council Bluffs, often were unable to have birthday celebrations due their families’ situations. Robin knew that with a little sugar, flour and a few fun games, she could help create happy memories for kids living at MICAH House and fulfill her own need to spread joy.
“Birthdays are so important to me and our family,” said Robin as she spoke of her desire to recognize these milestones. With excitement, she took on responsibility for monthly birthday parties at MICAH House with one goal – to make people happy.
Robin is perfectly suited to giving back in this way. She can create magic from simple ingredients and her cupcakes are the crown jewel of every celebration. She also has help. John and Jill Faust and volunteers from St. Patrick and Corpus Christi parishes, along with corporate groups such as MidAmerican Energy, facilitate games and provide bingo prizes, crafts and decorations.
Robin said, “I get so much enjoyment out of bringing baked goods because I love to do things that make other people happy. That’s my passion.” The fact that her goodies are gone like ‘hot cakes’ reflects the enjoyment she brings.
One of Robin’s favorite memories at MICAH House is from the very first birthday party. She was worried that her idea for a Fall-themed craft was “lame.” However, the kids embraced the time to be creative. One young man drew a tiny squirrel at the base of a tree and the child next to him took notice, wanting a squirrel on his art piece, too.
“He went around to every single table and asked if anyone wanted a squirrel on their paper. It made him feel good that he was doing something for others,” smiled Robin. “That’s my whole goal, too. I want to make an unfortunate situation as good as it can possibly be. For whatever reason that people are at the MICAH House, I’m just so thrilled that I can do something to make their days brighter.”
Robin encourages anyone with an inkling of inspiration to inquire. Ask the question, “What can I do to help?”
Daylee Olson, MICAH House community relations and marketing coordinator, shared, “We have loved having Robin and the birthday party volunteers for the past year. We are continuing to look for ways to make MICAH House birthdays special since we had to suspend our volunteer programs due to COVID-19. Volunteers bring so much joy into MICAH House, we can't wait to welcome them back!”
Thank you to SHARE Omaha for this blog! They also offer #SharePottawattamie!
To visit MICAH House’s SHARE Omaha profile to see their current volunteer and donation needs: https://shareomaha.org/nonprofit/micah-house
SHARE Omaha serves an eight-county region, including Pottawattamie County, connecting those who want to do good to ways to volunteer and support causes that matter to Western Iowa. Find your fit for giving back at SHAREomaha.org/Iowa.
It’s Donia Days weekend in Pottawattamie County! After all the cancellations and disappointments, here’s the perfect way to kick-off the back-to-school rush! Make your way to ‘Donia Days this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (August 21-23)!
Thanks to Donia Days organizers, it is back to a 3-day weekend event! Not only did they kick it up to 3 days but they went out of their way to get hand-sanitizing stations and an addition hand-washing station just to keep you all safe!
The weekend kicks off on Friday with the car show and the family fun night with a movie in the park and kids games. Be sure to bring your blankets, lawn chairs, coolers (concession stand will be open but no meal due to COVID), and I hear you might even want the kids to have their swimsuits and towels for a little slip ‘n slide!
Saturday is a jam-packed day starting off with the Macedonia Volunteer Fire Department serving breakfast at the DeWitt building from 7 to 9:30. From there, you can check out the city-wide garage sales and the flea market/folk art/craft fair. The longest one-block parade will be the longest 2-block parade this year for social distancing purposes and will kick off at 10am on Main Street as always. At 11, you can see the infamous bed races or even better, participate in them! Beds are provided! Adult and Kid divisions are available with no cost to participate but bragging rights and a gift card on the line! Teams of 5 push a bed down the street, dress a person in firemen gear, and push them back down the street to the finish line. There’s just nothing like it!
Bed races will be followed up with dance performances given by students out of Dance Atlantic 2.0 Oakland Studio at noon. Kickball and 3-on-3 basketball start up at 1pm. With food trucks, Cattle Drive, Feed Trough, and American Cancer Society Team Lewis Life Preserver Crew serving cotton candy all in the line-up plus Back Forty will be open for business!
Both the Stempel Bird Museum and the Pioneer Trail Museums along with The Painted Camel Art Gallery will all be open throughout the day but only 10 people will be allowed in at one time and masks will be required. The Pioneer Trail Museum will host their annual fundraiser Silent Auction, as well. Be sure to stop in and support. I've found some super fun stuff there before!
The cornhole tourney starts at 4. Sign up for all the contests ends 15 minutes prior to start time of each contest unless brackets are already full prior to that time. The announcer’s stand is the sign-up location unless otherwise specified.
The Back Forty will also host evening events.
The weekend wraps up on Sunday with the community worship at the grandstand at 10:30. Folks are asked to bring lawn chairs to sit in to help with social distancing.
Folks, here’s what I know: it’s never boring in Donia! Macedonia always turns out and supports small town life. I can’t think of a better way to get in a little family bonding time and spread some good cheer. A lot of great volunteers and businesses put in some serious effort to make this year happen in not-so-easy circumstances. Let’s show them full appreciation by simply showing up!
*Also, a big shoutout to Rachel Allensworth for taking time to fill WIDA in on all the details!
Do you have a bingo up-down, left-to-right or diagonal? We won't even after if it's a black-out! If you have a bingo, we want to know which ones you've done!
Sometimes you have to make your own entertainment in trying times! Here's a little fun for you!
Are you a bored family at home on Friday night in need of a little competition? Are you an artist at heart but never get around to it? Do you have a child that needs something to do? Are you missing the Iowa State Fair and the butter cow? Well, here it is: the contest of contests! When in doubt, make it happen yourself! We want to see your butter sculptures! (And I'm going to guess it turns out better than mine!)
Anything goes (as long as it’s appropriate)! Make whatever design, animal, place, food, can, flower, etc. out of butter/margarine and message us a picture on Facebook or email us at EricaForWIDA@gmail.com and we will post all the pics on Facebook for everyone to see!
Not only can you get some bragging rights, but one lucky winner will receive a one-year, annual Pott. County park pass! See the buffalo, elk, and fall leaves on us! We are blessed to have so many wonderful parks in our area and they are the perfect place to socially distance.
As my friend, Michelle says, "here’s your chance to prove that there’s nothing butter than living in Pott. Co!"
(This contest/giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook or any other entities. It is fully sponsored by WIDA.)
What woman doesn’t need to attend an event named Women, Wine, and Wellness right now in the middle of all this COVID-stuff??? We all need a lot of relaxation and a few snacks and libations!
So Blair Chiropractic and Prairie Crossing Winery in Treynor have teamed up to give you the perfect night of serenity and fun this Saturday night (August 15) starting at 6pm!
The night starts off in the ballroom area at the winery with Paul Hart and Jackie Akers playing live music. From there, you will get to stick with your tribe (to socially distance) and head to stations featuring some fabulous women (and men)!
Dr. Alissa Blair and Monique Lowe will be together with Alissa offering chiropractic tips and Monique offering massage and both presenting you with paraffin dipping for soft hands. Miles Coleman is an herbalist, a colleague of Dr. Blair’s, out of Omaha who deals with women’s hormones. Dr. Stacey Whitehead from CB Skin Secrets will be talking about skin checks, dermaplaning, and med spa tips. Julie Kudron with Young Living will be on hand to talk immune boosters and skincare. And self-care has to be rewarded so Julianna Hrasky will be presenting award-winning brew and wine samples! Plus, if that weren't enough, they are doing raffles all night for t-shirts, merch, kits, etc!
The night will wrap up with local favorite, Cole Rath, in the moonlight. (Feel free to bring your own bag chair, too to enjoy the night air and Cole!)
If you register in advance, you get a swag bag, too! Tickets are $20. You can purchase at the door, but swag bags are only for those that pre-register. They will also be honoring all tickets sold for the March event that had to be cancelled.
The annual event offers so much! Swag bags, adult beverages, appetizers, live music, and comradery – that is hitting in the jackpot after all we’ve been through lately! So whether you’re a girl needing a night out or a significant other knowing your lady needs a break, here’s a perfect opportunity!
Also, a big shout-out to Alissa and Julianna for banding together and inviting others in, as well, to make a great night for Pott. Co!
Yeah, we are celebrating the end of the 12 days of Christmas in July in August. I mean – it’s 2020. Nothing is normal, right?
So I’m just thinking about those 11 pipers piping. No matter the type, I’d be struggling! Wind instruments were never my thing, nor was sewing, nor was smoking, but I think I could get into some cookie decorating – that is definitely my kind of piping! Although I’ve never had a steady hand. Then again, my cookie wouldn’t need to be pretty for me to eat it!
But you know what you do need a steady hand for? Painting or sawing. And you know what that brings to mind? JP Lumber in Oakland! Need an S ring for the swing set? Go to JP. Need boards for that deck you promised would be built during COVID? Go to JP. Need gardening gloves? Go to JP. It is a treasure trove of stuff you never knew a lumber yard would carry! There’s nothing like a hometown lumber yard.
JP just happens to call Oakland home. Oakland is a town full of amenities you just wouldn’t expect in a town of 1500, yet here they are! Oakland is rich in businesses with banks, doctor’s office, dentist, chiropractor, pharmacy, restaurants, insurance agencies, etc. and a golf course, library, the amazing Freedom Rock, the Nishna Heritage Museum and mural garden, and nonprofit, Impact Hill!
Oakland has so much to offer!
Plus, you can score a gift card to Oakland!
WIDA, in an effort to support our local small businesses, is giving away a $25 gift card to JP Lumber!
To enter to win, there are 2 parts:
You must be entered by Wednesday night, August 12th at midnight (central time). The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the contest! And stay tuned – only 1 more giveaway to go!
(This contest/giveaway is in no way affiliated with Facebook or any other entities. It is fully sponsored by WIDA.)
Do you know the legend that is Frank Rizzo (he would make a joke right now about it being in his own mind –lol)? You have probably heard him on KSOM 96.5 out of Atlantic in your early morning rush. He is the host of KSOM Mornings. Maybe you also know him from his real life with kids and wife and seeing him out and about announcing at things like Relay for Life events, PEO Trivia Nights, or town parades. Yes, he’s that guy. That good guy. That good, funny guy.
Well, Frank belongs to a Facebook group for radio folks, as he puts it, and saw the call for submissions to Nails and Tracey’s Radio Star 2020. In true Frank form, he said he hadn’t had enough rejection lately so he sent in a clip of one of his shows and forgot about it. Fast-forward to today and not only did they love Frank’s submission but they asked people to vote for the top 10 radio stars and Frank has officially made the top 10! And friends, this is no small feat, he is up against people from all over the world! The Top 10 includes people from the UK, Trinidad, Georgia, Detroit, Canada, and our very own Carson, Iowa boy, Frank!
Each round involves voting by the masses and if you feel the urge to help our local boy out, you can do just that! The next round starts tomorrow, August 8 and they narrow down to 7. If Frank wins, he would get a year of coaching from the On Air Radio Announces Nails and Tracey. This is where the power of small towns and our county come into play. Your vote can put him past all those big-city announcers that don’t personally know all their listeners.
Here’s the link to see all of the top 10 and here Frank’s minute fifty: Radio Star 2020.
Not only are we very proud to call Frank one of our own, but here he is in a world-wide competition and winning! Let’s help see that through. The power of Pottawattamie can make it happen!
Way to make Pott. Co. proud, Frank Rizzo! We’ll be cheering and voting for you!
Thank you to SHAREOmaha for the guest blog about one of our fabulous Pott. Co. citizens! Some of you may have read it in our newsletter, but it's worth sharing again!
Though it’s a short acronym, CASA volunteers play a significant role in the lives of many in Southwest Iowa. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) do the unseen work to ensure the best interests of vulnerable youth in our community, work that deserves to be recognized.
The Southwest Iowa CASA Program recruits community volunteers to serve as a voice in court for abused and neglected children, to secure a safe, permanent and nurturing home for all. One of these dedicated volunteers is Sheila Lewis of Treynor, Iowa.
For Sheila, the process of becoming a CASA volunteer was gradual. A previous co-worker was a CASA in Douglas County and shared her experiences; it sounded interesting. TS Banking Group, where Sheila works, posted the opportunity to become a CASA volunteer; she remembered her intent to learn more about the program. Finally, about a year ago, Sheila saw an open house announcement for interested volunteers; she decided to attend.
“Something was pushing me. I needed to look into this,” Sheila reflects.
After speaking with current volunteers and judges, the great need for more CASA volunteers compelled Sheila to begin training. Sheila was supported during this process by TS Banking Group and its policy of providing every employee 50 hours of volunteer time off (VTO) annually. This benefit allowed Sheila the flexibility to dive into preparing to be the best advocate possible.
Now, Sheila is working on her first court case advocating for a group of children aged one to fourteen years old. Sheila shares, “It was nerve-racking to get the first case. I take my responsibility seriously. I’m dealing with kids and their lives. And their lives have been thrown into turmoil.”
Sheila poured over documents to learn about the history of her children’s case, but the real work comes in gaining their trust. She needs the kids to feel comfortable sharing if they have any unmet needs. And if they feel safe.
“My kids are a little guarded, which is understandable considering all they have been through. I try to encourage them and let them know that I’m just here to look out for them,” says Sheila.
Just as Sheila’s decision to commit to becoming a CASA volunteer was a journey, Sheila’s current case will require resilience as she continually gathers information to inform her recommendations to the court. She will be a constant presence in the life of the children she’s assigned during the entire case, as long as the process may take.
“When I get to the end of this case and see it come to a resolution, I’ll get the most fulfillment,” says Sheila. “Right now, I feel good about where the kids are currently placed. They are very safe and secure. That’s my contentment at this moment.”
More of these outstanding volunteers are needed. The Southwest Iowa CASA Program is currently preparing for a Fall CASA pre-service training with the goal of recruiting 10 new volunteers.
“CASA advocates are ordinary people who care about children. Currently, there are over 360 children involved in the court system in Pottawattamie County. Southwest Iowa children need you,” says Anne Christensen, Southwest Iowa CASA Program child advocacy board coordinator.
To request more information about becoming a Southwest Iowa CASA volunteer, visit SHAREomaha.org/IowaCASA
SHARE Omaha serves an eight-county region, including Pottawattamie County, connecting those who want to do good to ways to volunteer and support causes that matter to Western Iowa. Find your fit for giving back at SHAREomaha.org.
Play pickleball in Carson!
As shocking as it may seem, pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America, the fastest in 2019! It has taken over every retirement community in the South and now you can play it locally in Carson, too! Head to Mill Stone Park next to the community gardens, and you will find a concrete pickleball court!
What is pickleball? It’s a whole lot like a badminton-tennis combo but you use a whiffle-type ball and the rackets look more like ping-pong paddles. It’s a 4-person (or 2 if you prefer) game in a small contained space so no need to run miles to track that ball down!
The Carson Community did an official ribbon cutting ceremony this past weekend during the Carson Rodeo events. The court was dedicated in memory of Marge and Norman Graham.
The court is open during regular park hours and it is first come, first use! You will need to bring your own equipment, but $30 will get you a set of 4 rackets and balls. Perfect for your family to enjoy the nice weather and take advantage of a local park! (Plus, they have a great playground area, shelter for a picnic, and trail, too!)
And while you’re in town you can grab at ice cream cone at The Country Store or a bite to eat at The Bar’N and Grill!
Carson Park and Rec. is ready and waiting for you!
Thanks to George Volz for the use of the photo.
Saturday marks the grand opening of The Best Wrestler here in rural Pottawattamie! If you’ve been driving by the business and are curious, I have all the inside scoop!
The event will start at 2 and include a demo from 2:30 to 3:30 followed by snacks and drinks and the family sharing their story of how this came to be and how people can join. The address is 27046 US Highway 6 and for all you locals, it’s the building at Quick corner where you turn to head into McClelland.
Georgi and Ivan Ivanov have officially set up a business to teach the art/sport of wrestling. With an amazing system in place, the credentials to back it up, and years of experience dating back to becoming certified coaches in 2006 for the World Wrestling Organization, the duo is set to make Southwest Iowa the wrestling capital of Iowa again! The goal for the Ivanovs is to be “the right-hand man for all the area schools.” They want to bring everyone together and create lifetime wrestling enthusiasts and definitely some champions.
How did the family end up here? Well, although the family is from Bulgaria, George’s dad coached at Underwood back in 2003. George came back, ended up at Lewis Central, and as he said, Southwest Iowa was in its prime with wrestling success stories. After traveling around the world and coaching in many different situations, George decided to come back to Iowa three years ago and with the purchase of this building came the opportunity for his parents to live in Iowa, too, and the family to coach together.
I asked why Pott. Co. and he told me that Southwest Iowa is family and small towns are where it all starts. Couldn’t have said it better myself!
So what will The Best Wrestler offer? Practices and workouts for anyone over the age of 5. Never wrestled? Come do your first workout for free! They will offer strength and conditioning in the mornings and practices in the evenings 6 days a week for full-time members. Part-time memberships will also be offered for those wanting only 3 times a week and drop-in sessions will be available for a one-time fee, too.
The 2-story building will offer workouts on the 2nd floor with bathroom and shower facilities and the 1st floor will provide seating, a snack area, and TVs for live streaming so parents can watch their athletes in action.
But if you really want to see the big picture, here it is: a World-renown Olympian and his coach chose our county to call home and to invest their knowledge and efforts into our kids. Our kids can be coached by an Olympian and learn the dedication, mindset, and physical agility necessary to participate in the sport of wrestling at the highest level possible. What an amazing thing to be able to say!
Thank you, guys, for bringing your gifts to Pott. Co. We’ll be cheering for you!
Keep current with Southwest Iowa happenings here.