COMMUNITY STORIES

In honor of National Community Foundation Week and National Philanthropy Day, Community Foundation for Western Iowa, formerly Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, annually celebrates donors, nonprofit organizations, and other key stakeholders who make it possible for us to continue to amplify impact in Pottawattamie County and western Iowa. We are thrilled to feature these amazing individuals and organizations as we continue to create impact as your local community foundation.

Mick McKinley | Board Member

Mick McKinley’s commitment to our community is invaluable to the Community Foundation. Mick has always believed in giving back to the community, and Community Foundation for Western Iowa gives him an opportunity to do just that as a Board member and Treasurer. “The Foundation enables donors to make a difference by making contributions that are used to fund community impact and field of interest grants,” shares Mick. “They can set up donor advised funds where they direct their contributions.”

In his two years on the Board, Mick feels the growth of the Foundation has been impressive. “Donna Dostal has done an amazing job raising community awareness of how donors can establish a legacy that will continue long into the future.” Mick shared that Board chair, Tony Tauke, has been instrumental in working with donors to fund scholarships for graduating Iowa students in both Treynor and Underwood School Districts, as well as scholarships for students throughout the state of Iowa. These generous gifts will have a positive effect on our future leaders for generations to come.

Mick feels it’s important to support the work of the Community Foundation for Western Iowa because the Foundation gives us all an opportunity to give back to our communities in a sustainable, amplified way. “Through our donors' generosity, our Women's Fund granted $57,000 this year to support six projects for women and families in southwest Iowa,” says McKinley. “And our Community Impact Grants committee awarded $60,040 to 40 area nonprofit or city organizations throughout Pottawattamie County! The more we, as a community, grow the Foundation, the more good we can do in Southwest Iowa.”

Liz Collins | Supporter and Fund Holder

Elizabeth became part of the Council Bluffs community in 1978, after she was hired as an elementary teacher in the Council Bluffs Community Schools District. Elizabeth’s teaching career spanned 35 years, including service at Madison, DeForest, Edison, and College View schools until she retired in 2013.

“When I became part of PCCF, I was impressed with the stated vision and emphasis on rural and urban Pottawattamie County,” shared Elizabeth. She had already established a fund through Omaha Community Foundation, but felt the time was right and she was ready to establish a fund through PCCF, as well.

Elizabeth first came to PCCF several years back, to discuss her desire to make a difference in our southwest Iowa community. “I met with Mr. (Jerry) Mathiasen to understand how to use my donations to best support our community,” she shared. “I started small and have been fortunate enough to continue to support a variety of community needs.”

Most recently, Elizabeth is contributing to the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa, a field of interest fund with the Community Foundation. “I am giving to the Women’s Fund because of my interest to provide backing for projects developed and organized for women and families in crises,” said Elizabeth. “The need for services and programs is a growing concern in all communities. I also appreciated the insights of Donna Dostal and Judy Davis from the Women’s Fund Steering Committee, to bring this opportunity to my attention.”

Tamara Brunow | Brunow Contracting

The Community Foundation is thrilled to feature Tamara Brunow, CEO and Owner of Brunow Contracting, for her commitment to creating tangible impact and powerful positive change in our community.

Tamara Brunow has a passion for empowering women in our community. She shares freely about her desire to help lift women up out of poverty, encourage women to overcome their challenges and personal struggles, and her personal commitment to ensuring there are resources in our southwest Iowa community to make dreams of success a reality. That is why Tamara felt it was important to support the recent IMPACT for Women Summit on October 28, sponsored by the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa.

“As a woman business owner, I feel that I have a duty to support the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa as a way to give back to our local community,” said Brunow. “It is imperative that Southwest Iowa protects, identifies, and supports women, at all stages of life, education, and career. Keeping the women of Iowa empowered and healthy makes for stronger families and strong female role models for our future generations to look up to.”

Through purposeful planning, strategic insight, and a collaborative needs-assessment within the communities that make up southwest Iowa, the Women’s Fund of Southwest Iowa was designed to improve the quality of life and well-being of women and their families in four key focus areas: Education for Women of All Ages; Accessible and Affordable Childcare; Women’s Health Safety and Well-being; and Aging in Place.

Evan Summy | Midwest Ag Services, Inc.

Established by Evan’s father Kelly in 1993, Midwest Ag Services, Inc., is a local, family-owned Farm Management, Farm Real Estate and Farm Appraisal firm located in Council Bluffs. Kelly Summy was also one of the founding board members for the Community Foundation for Western Iowa. Kelly instilled the importance of philanthropy in the community early on in his career, and passed that essential value onto Evan.

In 2020, Evan started a donor advised fund through the Community Foundation for Midwest Ag Services. Evan designed the fund to help grow and support youth in agriculture. In 2021, Midwest Ag Services granted to support 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) livestock show awards. “It’s important that we help grow and support the next generation of Iowa farmers”, he said. “I know programs such as 4-H and FFA will continue to inspire future farmers.”

The Community Foundation has helped to maximize the impact of the Midwest Ag Services donor advised fund. Through the partnership, the fund will benefit the community and future farmers for many generations. Evan encourages other business owners to consider this type of philanthropic tool to help maximize their charitable giving back into our southwest Iowa communities.

Jennifer Green | Charles E. Lakin Foundation

This week, we celebrate people active in the philanthropic community and dedicated to the enrichment of our world. The Community Foundation for Western Iowa is delighted to feature difference maker, Jennifer Green with the Charles E. Lakin Foundation, for her commitment to creating impact in our community.

Jennifer manages the grant activities of the Charles E. Lakin Foundation and serves on the Southwest Iowa Mental Health and Substance Abuse Fund committee at the Community Foundation. “After learning about all of the great things the Community Foundation was doing through their various grants…and seeing how they build up the community, who wouldn't want to be involved?” shared Jennifer. She feels that Community Foundation for Western Iowa builds up local nonprofits through grant funding and lends their expertise on how to fundraise and garner community support, which is vital for nonprofits to build upon their missions.

Jennifer’s previous work in the Child Welfare and Public Health fields guides her desire to assist with the Southwest Iowa Mental Health and Substance Abuse Fund at the Community Foundation. Jennifer appreciates that this fund not only provides financial resources for bolstering mental health education and awareness, but it also helps encourage collaborations among nonprofits, which is key to helping communities. “This Fund has already impacted area nonprofits throughout southwest Iowa in providing education and awareness to the community,” shared Jennifer. “I hope this Fund continues to grow and that nonprofits working with us continue their collaborations to expand their services, education, and awareness throughout southwest Iowa.”

Jennifer shared that the Charles E. Lakin Foundation fully supports the initiatives of the Community Foundation. This is evident through their financial support to create the new Florence M. and Charles E. Lakin Center for Community Giving. “Further, we illustrate our support through the Lakin Foundation developing a Donor Advised Fund with PCCF, demonstrating our continued partnerships and working relationships to strengthen all of Southwest Iowa with both funding and resources. Our Board feels that the Community Foundation for Western Iowa is a vital tool in the community to help build out individual philanthropy, as well as ensure that there is future investment in Council Bluffs and Southwest Iowa.”

Amanda Lebeck | Walnut Community Center

Agency funds at the Community Foundation for Western Iowa are a simple and efficient way to build an endowment that will help create sustainability for an organization, while providing dollars to meet agency needs.

Amanda Lebeck, Director of the Walnut Community Center, and her Board of Directors decided to create an account with the Community Foundation to help build a sustainable plan for the future of the Center. By creating the fund, they hope to ensure long-term financial stability for the center by building assets for a flexible, unrestricted funding option for future projects and operations.

The Walnut Community Center has also received Community Impact Grants from the Community Foundation to support its mission. “Community Impact Grants from the Community Foundation for Western Iowa have been a huge benefit to the Walnut Community Center,” said Amanda. This year is not the first Community Foundation for Western Iowa Community Impact Grant, however, that the Community Center has leveraged toward progress and achieving community goals. Amanda shared, “The grants have allowed us to start and finish projects sooner than we expected. They have also helped the Walnut Community Center get more publicity, as well as support from the the Community Foundation staff.”

“The Community Foundation assisted us with three major projects,” Amanda shared. “The first project was starting our Wellness Center. We were able to purchase commercial grade fitness equipment and convert two classrooms into a Wellness Center. Currently we have 60 active memberships and are serving 136 people in our community. The second project was the purchase and installation of basketball hoop extenders to help members of the Walnut Wellness Center use these hoops more easily. Members use them every day, as do our little league teams from the AHSTW School District. This year’s grant of $5,000 helped us install handicap accessible doors throughout the wellness facility and will help folks of all abilities access the Center with ease.”

it's looking up in southwest iowa | April 2020

MORE THAN EVER Southwest Iowa is a wonderful place to live, work and play. The communities in the region offer ample opportunities and attractions such as innovative educational initiatives; a thriving philanthropic community; a robust economy with tremendous support for businesses; and an appealing quality of life for citizens of all ages. As Donna Dostal, a resident of the area and President/CEO of the Community Foundation puts it: “It’s the most amazing time to be living in Southwest Iowa.”

Amplifying Impact in our communities

"I became involved with the Community Foundation while searching for funds to restore a vacant lot on our Main Street in Oakland. The Oakland Historical Society received two grants from the Community Foundation for Western Iowa that helped turn an eyesore into an appealing garden area where people walk to, sit awhile, or even picnic. Then, my husband and I established a fund with the Community Foundation to help maintain the garden and each year the Historical Society receives a check that reflects 5% of our investment. As former teachers, we are not wealthy people, but because of the Community Foundation we are able to give back to the community that has been so good to us.

The Riverside Links Scholarship Fund through the Community Foundation is another important project that I believe in. A group of volunteers created this endowed scholarship fund that is awarded each year to a college student who has completed a two-year program and needs support to finish their education. To date, we have collected enough funds to aware a $1,000 scholarship annually. All the members of Riverside Links...believe that volunteerism and philanthropy is food for our small communities."

Gayle Strickland, Investor