Dear Friends and Partners,
We rise to the challenge. In a year like no other in our lifetime, we were called to rise to meet new and renewed challenges. We endured, and continue to navigate, the COVID-19 pandemic. We engaged in and committed to joining the call for racial equity. All while continuing to enrich our communities without losing sight of our long-term vision of creating a vibrant region of thriving people. It was a challenging year and a year full of learning, but together we rose to the occasion, and we continue to rise.
The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa is proud to be part of the “we” in these actions but is even more honored to be a partner to all those who acted with strength, purpose, and compassion. Our donor partners, nonprofit partners, and community partners have been critical to our ability to learn, adapt, and respond. You are all heroes and leaders in your communities and in our mission.
2020 By the Numbers
Despite facing their own hardships, nonprofits rose to the challenge in 2020, continuning to serve people and their community. These organizations and their employees are heros for what they do to make where we live better places for all people.
The Job Foundation
“Our ultimate goal for these students is to eliminate that generation of poverty. That stops here with them because when they turn 18 they have the tools to succeed financially. They have the budgeting skills so that they can make better choices than perhaps what they have seen previously in their lives.”
Cyd McHone, Executive Director
Generational poverty is defined as a family living in poverty for at least two generations. According to Cyd McHone, executive director of The Job Foundation, it almost always predicts someone’s ability to become financially secure. With its vision of all people achieving financial success, The Job Foundation works with students in the Waterloo Community School District to break the cycle as soon as they start elementary school, working through high school graduation.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque
“We’re a democracy, and we want to live in a world where everyone has access to the same opportunities. That is the essence of the American experience. I think there is probably no other country in the world that has been founded, not perfectly, of course, on the idea of equality.”
Miryam Antúnez de Mayolo, Immigration Attorney
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque works to reduce poverty, strengthen families, and empower communities in 30 counties in northeast Iowa. In Black Hawk County, the nonprofit provides immigration legal services for those navigating the immigration system. Miryam Antúnez de Mayolo serves as the primary immigration attorney for the county, providing low-cost and often free legal services.
Cedar Valley Hospitality House
“During COVID we saw a transient population just moving around because jobs weren’t available. Many community meals ended. The only overnight shelter went to fifty percent capacity. It was not a good situation for the homeless. The funding helped us provide outstanding services for our guests, not just the bare minimum, and in a way that was exceptional and respectful.”
Joni Hansen, Executive Director
According to Joni Hansen, between 300 and 400 homeless people live in Black Hawk County at any given time. It is a statistic many may not see, but Joni, executive director of Cedar Valley Hospitality House, knows the struggles of these too often invisible men and women.
Sunflower Child Development Center
“There’s a lot of things the new center provides to the community. There’s the increase in available child care slots, there’s the Discovery Center, which will add a unique community aspect, and there’s also an economic impact. The whole region needs so many more child care spots to help businesses recruit employees. Our vision is that this could be a model for other small communities.”
Merlene Brown, Financial Manager (Retired Director)
Sunflower Child Development Center has been growing with Decorah and the surrounding community for 45 years, offering care for children six weeks to 12 years old. Now, the center is positioning itself to meet the ongoing critical demand for child care services by launching a capital campaign to build a new center.
Forest City Ambulance Service
“Most of our people are volunteers; they don’t have to be here. They choose to do this for the community. It’s tough to get volunteers, but once they are in the door, their passion for helping others is second to none. The grant allowed us to protect our people better, protect the community, and continue to operate. If we didn’t have the PPE, our services would not have continued.”
Dale Reyhons, Paramedic Supervisor & Critical Care Paramedic
Healthcare workers have always been heroes, but 2020 showed just how heroic, dedicated, and selfless they truly are. This group includes Emergency Medical Services, which, according to Dale Reyhons, are the most critical area of public service in rural Iowa.
Waterloo Urban Farmers Market
“There’s a lot to be made about food deserts, and a lot of populations, underserved populations, not having readily available access to fresh produce. We are in a convenient central location for many neighborhoods to come and shop for fresh produce. In 2020, we did our best to put on a market that was safe for the community, and provided customers opportunities to shop that kept themselves and the community safe.”
Daquan Campbell, Market Manager
A farmer’s market is about more than fruits and vegetables. DaQuan Campbell tells about a community within the larger community when he talks about the Waterloo Urban Farmers Market.
Our donors are impacting their communities today and for generations to come. They lead with generosity and vision that creates a more vibrant Iowa.
Jorgy & Ann Jorgensen
“My feet are firmly planted in the soil of Iowa. I love being on the farm. I love the rural area, and growing food for the world is very important. For me, it’s a sense of community. You feel safe. You know that people care. Friends are special here.”
Ann Jorgensen Fundholder & Past Benton County Community Foundation Committee Chair
Marlyn “Jorgy” Jorgensen went to Iowa State University to try to play a little football, but after an injury cut his athletic aspirations short, he thought he would shift his attention to other activities. It was a turn of fate as a young woman caught his eye as they were both working on the Cardinal Guild, the student government group at that time. It took some convincing, but she eventually married him. “I said I would never marry a farmer, never move back to Garrison, so be careful what you say,” said Ann Jorgensen.
Thomas & Carline Phillips
Thomas and Dr. Carline Phillips haven’t lived in their hometown since 1966, but when asked where home is, they agree it’s Waterloo. Both were influenced by hardworking, generous parents, their church family, and those in their community. The east side of Waterloo was where they learned lessons that would impact them for a lifetime.
Regional Health Services of Howard County
“People tend to take for granted that not everybody can drive to larger hospitals for cancer treatment. Not everybody has a car, family to take them, or the funds to do it. That’s why it was important for us to bring that here.The new center is saving patients a lot of time, expenses of travel, and inconvenience. Here they get more personalized service. You just know everyone. It’s life-changing.”
Jennalee Pedretti, Vice President of Operations & RHS Foundation Executive Director
Cancer has touched most Americans’ lives through the death of a loved one or watching someone they love fight to live. Cancer and its treatment take a tremendous toll on the patient and family. In rural areas, the disease is even more deadly, in part because access to state-of-the-art facilities and treatments is usually only found in larger metro areas. Regional Health Services of Howard County (RHSHC) in Cresco believes they can help change this statistic for those battling cancer in their backyard.
Racism and inequity are far from new to our communities. Generation after generation of Blacks, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) have endured racism intentionally built into the systems meant to guide and protect communities. Systemic racism is not just an urban issue but a regional concern, especially as our state continues to become more diverse. Creating equitable communities may be the biggest challenge of our lifetime, and one that can only be met together.
In June, the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa reinforced its commitment to racial equity, like so many others, releasing a statement following the murder of George Floyd. Since then, we have been working to live up to our words. We are reaching out and listening to community leaders and nonprofit agencies to learn how we can extend our efforts around our value of inclusion and place a racial equity lens over the entirety of our work.
Fulfilling this commitment will be difficult. We must not only look at how we can be an ally to the BIPOC community, but we must do the difficult work of looking at where we have been part of the problem and take action to change that. We know we will not always get it right, but we must be transparent even when it isn’t easy.
We know a commitment to becoming an anti-racist organization is a commitment to action. We invite all our partners to join us on this learning journey.
Our Racial Equity Statement
We believe all people should be equally seen, heard, valued, and respected. The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa is committed to fully embracing our core value of inclusion and taking action to end systemic racism and creating equitable communities. We are committed to listening and learning from people of color in our communities and expanding our collaboration with community partners working to end racial disparity, injustice, and inequality.
CFNEIA Racial Equity Fund
Launched in August 2020, the CFNEIA Racial Equity Fund was established to provide a dedicated and agile funding source for our region’s response to ending racism. Grants from the fund will support:
- Nonprofits addressing racial justice issues and serving diverse groups of people
- Programs engaging members of the community in advocacy and promoting racial equity
- Education and training to help create more inclusive communities
- Initiatives that explore solutions to ending racism
In 2020, over $40,000 was granted from the fund. CFNEIA is committed to utilizing its financial and relationship resources to increase support for the BIPOC community.