Although members of the Rotary Club of West Liberty opened the new year with a social event meeting, the organization also learned of the success of the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign that was held through the holidays, starting before Thanksgiving and continuing through the day after Christmas.
Chairman Gretchen Nollman updated members, letting them know about $3,000 was collected through the kettle collections at Giri BP and Jeff’s Market, despite the fact the kettles weren’t always manned, many members this year electing not to ring the bell due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nollman said a number of members did make private donations toward the kettle collections, noting the community and Rotary members have rolled up over $7,000 in donations for the Muscatine County Salvation Army through the past two years, vital funding that will help local families in need of assistance.
As promised by he Salvation Army Director Sergeant Gregory Bock, West Liberty opened a satellite “Pathway of Hope” office at First Church United in November, staffed by case manager Jacqueline McCoy of the Salvation Army. The office is open on Mondays from 10:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. and Thursday evenings from 4-6 p.m.
All the funding collected locally is earmarked to stay local in helping local residents who may need to get back on their feet after losing a job or are struggling with other problems.
Services can include assisting in employment searches, including resume building assistance, receiving education on budgeting tools and use of computers, goal planning and family support. SA can also assist with obtaining diapers for infants, family food assistance, notary services and spiritual care.
Anyone wishing to get more information should contact McCoy at 563-263-8272.
Nollman praised members for their dedication to the project and thanked the community for their support in making lives better for local families or individuals.
President Bill Koellner said there is a major problem in the community with poverty, noting people simply need to “open their eyes” to see things like food insecurity in the community, noting West Liberty schools have a very high percentage of students on the free federal school lunch program.
The Club is also working with the West Liberty High School Fine Arts Booster Club for their 2021 GALA, beginning arrangements again to set up committees for the event to be held in May after it was postponed for a year because of COVID-19 concerns.
The GALA will be held this year as a virtual event. Committees are being sought to collect donations, set up silent and live auctions, plan the event socially and set up benefit drawings. Anyone interested in getting involved should contact incoming Rotary president Sara Sedlacek or past president Gretchen Nollman.
Koellner said there are some great programs coming in 2021 for Rotary members including one on investing in the new year with the pandemic and new political leadership.
He also said there will be programs coming up on a mission to an orphanage in Mexico as well as a lesson on Camp Courageous, a venue in Manchester, Iowa that provides exceptional year-round recreational and respite care opportunities for individuals with special needs and their families.
The group is also looking forward to going to the state capital on Jan. 14 to receive an award from Governor Kim Reynolds and the Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery. The organization will be one of five groups or individuals honored for their work in the prevention of human trafficking, a fight Rotary plans to continue.
The organization meets every Tuesday evening virtually at 6 p.m. and anyone interested in learning more should contact Koellner or any Rotary member.