Hello all! I am Mariah and I recently started as the Member & Special Projects Coordinator for the Chamber. I grew up in Montezuma and following high school moved to Indianola to pursue a degree in public relations at Simpson College. After graduating it only took me a few months to decide home is where the heart is.
Before moving back to the area, I spent time exploring career opportunities while trying to decide what to do with my life. I knew I wanted to make a difference while using my degree, I just didn't know how to get there. When I came across the posting for this position, I knew exactly where I wanted to be.
Even though I've only spent a few weeks at the Chamber, I can tell I have found a career I love. Being able to put my passions in communications, event planning and social media towards the community of Grinnell has been rewarding already. I have loved meeting new people and look forward to building connections with many of you.
I am excited to be in the area and get to know the people and city of Grinnell more and more. I love being part of a nonprofit that puts so much effort into serving the community. Rachael and Kendra's love towards Grinnell and the chamber is evident and I enjoy working with their enthusiasm every day.
I am grateful and excited for this new chapter in my life and look forward to being a part of and learning more about this community!
Did you set resolutions this year? It's a new year, so it's time to get started! If one of your resolutions is to explore starting a business, make plans to connect with our office as one of your stops. Our office works with all types of businesses that are looking to start and grow in Grinnell, and aim to be a resource to businesses no matter where they are in the process.
From brainstorms over coffee to giving feedback on business plans and connecting with community resources, we work with several prospective business ventures each year, especially around this time of year.
If you're thinking of starting a business, now is a great time to get serious about it. Whether you're ready to launch now, or just want to explore the possibilities, please get in touch with our office to see how we can assist you. It doesn't matter if you're about to open, or if you're not even sure if your idea would work here. Let us help you get started. Together, let's make 2019 the year of the Entrepreneurs in Grinnell!
Struggling to find that perfect gift for your loved one this holiday season? We’ve pulled together some great suggestions that you can pick up right here in Grinnell!
Give the Gift of Adult Indulgence
Give the Gift of Green
Give the Gift of Health and Wellness
Give the Gift of Iowa Pride
Give the Gift of an Updated Look
Give the Gift of a Full Stomach
Give the Gift of Lunch
Give the Gift of a Full Fridge
Give the Gift of Cherished Memories
Give the Gift of DIY
Give Man’s Best Friend a Gift
Give the Gift of a Car Refresh
Give the Give of Usefulness
Still aren't sure what to get them? Grinnell Bucks always make a great gift!
Have you been out searching for the perfect gift for family and friends? I'll be honest, I haven't begun shopping yet or given it much thought but I'm excited to look local this weekend! As the holiday season gears up, I am also reminded of the many opportunities we have to give back to our community. Whether to individuals, organizations or groups, there are many ways to contribute during this season of giving.
If you're not sure where to start, here are just a few ideas:
However you choose to spend your time and dollars this holiday season, thank you for considering the ways we can work together to support our fellow Grinnellians and continue to make this a wonderful community by helping our groups and organizations doing such important work.
p.s. Many holiday festivities are taking place this evening and tomorrow. Check them out here!
Tomorrow evening marks one of my favorite nights in Grinnell: an evening to help us welcome the holiday season! Jingle Bell Holiday is set as a kick-off to the holiday season in an effort to keep more sales local and encourage customers to see what our businesses have to offer right here in our community. It's a fun-filled evening giving the opportunity to get out and explore our retail community - downtown sidewalks are filled with people, horse-drawn carriage rides are circling downtown, families are out enjoying treats and crafts and all the shops are decorated for the holidays. What's equally great about this event is that many service businesses and non-profit organizations get involved as well - it's wonderful to see our community come together in this way.
And this year, our Central Park Holiday decorations and team will be debuting their work during Jingle Bell Holiday! This team of dedicated volunteers has been meeting and working diligently for the past couple months and I'm so excited for you all to see their hard work come to fruition. Please take a minute Friday evening and throughout the next month and a half to say 'thank you' to this team of community members for helping pull everything together!
Jingle Bell Holiday activities are set for 5 to 8 p.m. Friday evening (November 16) and we're excited to see you downtown. Dozens of businesses and organizations have things planned for the evening, including open houses and activities, a winter farmers market, photos with Santa at Grinnell State Bank and double punches on your holiday punch card for any purchases made that evening. Michelle's Dance Academy will hold a holiday dance performance followed by the Central Park and Tree Lighting at 5:15pm in the shelter at Central Park and free horse-drawn carriage rides will be available through downtown from 5:30-8pm.
A special thanks to Grinnell Mutual, Grinnell College and Los Girasoles for sponsoring Jingle Bell Holiday activities. For a complete list of activities and participants, check out the regularly updated list on our website. I hope to see you downtown tomorrow evening enjoying this festive tradition!
I know it seems early (and it is!) but is anyone else sitting in their office listening to Christmas music this afternoon? Just me?! ;) In all seriousness, I want to share some details about the upcoming holiday season to let you know how you can be involved. I was approached earlier this year by a few folks inquiring how the community intended to utilize Central Park for the holiday season. I knew we didn't have the bandwidth to do something internally so we decided to host a few public meetings in the park (you may recall me inviting our readers to join us) late this summer. After just a couple meetings, we had a core group of individuals who have helped create a vision and are leading the charge to create various displays, both lighted and static, in various themes around the park (Candy Cane Village, North Pole, etc).
The effort is being led entirely by volunteers and our office
Volunteers gathered for a crafting night hosted by Iowa Valley Community College. Pictured: Janet Muckler, Kathy Szary, Gailanne Dill, Melanie Hempe, Cindy Strobel, Olivia Strobel and Kimberly Staples. Not pictured: Barb Hall, Jill Crotts and Jennifer McAlexander.
is overseeing the project.The group is led by Jennifer McAlexander and includes many different community members serving as section leaders including Michelle Butler, Daniel Clements, Gailanne Dill, Jill Hollingsworth, Kevin McAlexander, Kerri Olson, Dodi & Dennis Reilly, and Jim White. There have already been so many volunteers coming together to assist these individuals with planning meetings, crafting parties and more. We're excited to debut their work the evening of Jingle Bell Holiday (scheduled for November 16 from 5-8pm). The decorations will be up the entire month of December and Santa will even be on-site to visit with kids Saturday mornings in December, and will be hosted by different service groups. As we learn more about holiday happenings
we'll keep this page updated and share with you again as we get closer.
Will you join me in giving a shout-out to this dedicated group of volunteers for their vision to bring a Central Park Holiday together? One of my favorite parts of this effort thus far is seeing it bring so many community members together, many of whom had not met one another until their involvement and many who have no affiliation with our organization. What a way to build community! If you're interested in volunteering in the coming weeks to help bring a Central Park Holiday to fruition, please let me know and we'll get you connected!
p.s. New winter decorations will adorn the light poles in the Central Business District this holiday season! If you'd like to support this effort, you can make a secure donation here.
As a community and individuals, we often choose how to best be good stewards of our dollars. Which is partly why I love the idea of the Big GIVE, an annual giving campaign now in its seventh year. For the month of October, community members are encouraged to give to the Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation to support any of their 39 funds. One of the greatest things about giving to this drive is that you can specify where your gift goes, or you can simply give to the greater good. Each of these causes is important to our community and county and we have the opportunity to support multiple efforts with just one donation.
I was disappointed to miss the Spirit of Giving event last week which serves as a kick-off to the campaign while recognizing community members who have gone above and beyond. This year's event recognized several individuals who have been instrumental in Grinnell for a number of years, but also reminds us that there are so many people just like them in our community supporting organizations in meaningful ways.
In the world of fundraising you're always challenged to raise more money, often with less time and staff, to reach more individuals. This year's Big GIVE campaign is looking to raise more than last year's nearly $200,000 to make an even bigger impact for these important community organizations.
As you look at ways to give back to our community, please consider a gift to this or other great community organizations. There are so many ways to give back to Grinnell, and I encourage you to consider how you can make a positive impact.
I know what you're thinking, isn't this the Grinnell Chamber's newsletter? You're absolutely right, but I hope you'll take the next few minutes to indulge me and read further. I'm at a state-wide Chamber conference with many of my peers this week (thus the reason for the tardy email) and had the opportunity to hear from my Marshalltown friend and colleague last evening regarding the devastating EF-3 tornado that ripped through the heart of her community nearly three months ago.
Her account of the situation was both heartbreaking and powerful. As a community they have seen so much destruction, but the good that has come in the wake of tragedy is truly remarkable. People helping people whether they know them or not, and rising up to the challenge to rebuild a community both physically and emotionally.
In the first days to follow the tornado, our recommendation was to stay away while they worked to assess the damage and while that was immediately helpful our neighbors to the north now need our help. Most people have now moved on with their daily lives and may have even forgotten about what happened to the community that day, but the rebuilding is just now beginning and they could use our help. Reach out to friends, colleagues you may have. Call the Marshalltown United Way to find out how you can volunteer to make a difference.
Although smaller, Grinnell is a community not unlike Marshalltown and I am incredibly grateful our community was spared on that July day as I know it could happen in the blink of an eye. We often work in competitive nature with our peer communities, but now is a time for us to come together to make a positive impact. My colleague's words resonated with me, and I hope you'll take the time to reach out and continue to help in some way now that the media coverage has stopped and people are beginning to rebuild.
Are you familiar with Grinnell's Giving Gardens? The first community Giving Garden was started in the summer of 2013 at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. The gardens were developed as a part of a community transformation grant, and are intended to give the Grinnell community access to fresh foods. Several locations were added in the summer of 2014, and each summer thereafter. As of today, there are Giving Gardens at GRMC, St. John's Lutheran Church, Summer Street Park (maintained by Rotary), St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Davis Elementary, Marvin Gardens, Grinnell Community Daycare & Preschool and Ahrens Park (began this summer and is managed by Imagine Grinnell).
Anyone and everyone are welcome to harvest the produce; there is no cost to participate in the program and the gardens give access to fresh, nutritional, local foods. Any produce that is not collected by the community-at-large is gathered and donated to MICA, senior centers and other locations that serve food-insecure families. In the summer of 2017 alone, more than 2,000 pounds of food were donated to area agencies! The gardens are sustainable as well -- each having sheds to keep tools on-site, rain barrels to help with water retention and are managed by a committee with a representative from each of the organizations listed above.
It may seem as though 'gardening season' is over, but September is a great month to secure some great produce, and the gardens are producing like crazy right now. Grinnell's Giving Gardens are a remarkable effort of community collaboration, and are there waiting for you!
p.s. Don't forget to head downtown this evening to catch the Grinnell-Newburg Homecoming Parade (starts at 5:30pm) and cheer the Tigers to victory at the pep rally afterward! And don't worry about cooking - the Dollars for Scholars Dogs for Dollars fundraiser will be taking place in Central Park immediately following the parade.
It's been three days, and I'm still reeling. Tuesday saw incredible voter turnout in Grinnell for the school bond issue, and while I'm personally disappointed the vote didn't pass I can understand both sides of the issue. What I cannot understand is the incredible division this vote has created in our community, and I am more disappointed in the community's response toward one another than anything. We are a community that comes together to help our own, that works together to solve challenging problems and celebrates together when great things happen. But that's not the community I saw Tuesday and in weeks leading up to the vote. I'm disappointed in both the 'Yes' and the 'No' voters and the hateful rhetoric I'm seeing on both sides of the issue.
The school district has adopted the TEAM motto for the year: Together Everyone Achieves More. Maybe it's because this mantra was used in my household constantly as I was growing up, but it's always instilled in me the need and desire to work together in whatever ways possible. I implore everyone reading this to come together as a Grinnell TEAM to find a solution we can all get behind for the betterment of our community.
We are a community that will rise to the occasion, but it will not come without compromise. From both sides. You see, here's the thing about compromise - rarely do both parties get exactly what they want. Instead, they work together to find the best possible outcome. And that's what I'm hoping this community so many of us love will do next. Come together. Talk civilly, respectfully and professionally about possibilities and opportunities, recognizing that we all have different ideas of what a solution should look like. Listen to each other. Don't listen to respond, but listen to listen. The BEST idea is yet to come - I firmly believe that. And I'm confident we, as a community, can come to a consensus that will better our community for years to come. Will we all agree? Likely not entirely, but we need to work like hell to make sure we come together for the future of this incredibly amazing place we all love so much.
Together, We Are Grinnell!