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Rachael Kinnick
Kendra Tucker
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Building Bandwidth

Posted on 04/01/2021 at 3:14 PM
In the spring of 2017 we worked with the City to jointly conduct downtown listening sessions to better guide some of our work in the downtown area, and what we heard from a number of businesses and community members was the need for better broadband infrastructure. We didn't quite know at the time what that meant, or what form it would take, but began working more diligently to develop broadband efforts in the community. 
 
As these efforts continue, the broadband issue has been raised more prominently on both a statewide and national scale as well. As part of our work with the Greater Des Moines Partnership, and in conjunction with Poweshiek Iowa Development, we are excited to participate in the Central Iowa Broadband Internet Survey. The survey covers 11 counties in the central Iowa region and the purpose of the survey is to measure broadband internet availability (as it stands today), and identify areas that do not currently meet consumer needs and expectations. Historically, much of our information has been anecdotal; however, this study will allow us to plot specific address points in the future to help ensure broader, and better, access to broadband for not only our area businesses but residents as well. 
 
The survey is open now through April 27 - it should only take a few minutes and will provide critical information to further drive the development of high-speed internet services in our area. There are two surveys: one for residential and one for businesses. Important to note: all surveys and speed tests should be taken from a computer as opposed to a cell phone, if possible, to ensure the data collected is reflective of each address and the service available to it. 
 
A special thanks goes to Poweshiek Iowa Development for recognizing the importance of this issue to our area businesses and residents across the county, and for their help in making it available for all in Poweshiek County to participate. 
 
Thank you all, in advance, for your help to ensure Poweshiek County is well-represented in this survey data. Don't live in Poweshiek County? No problem as 11 central Iowa counties are represented in the survey data including Jasper, Marshall & Polk. Please feel free to share these links with your own networks to ensure we collect as much data as possible. 
--Rachael Kinnick 

A Reflection: One Year of COVID-19

Posted on 03/28/2021 at 4:00 AM

This guest blog is from Jennifer Havens, CEO of UnityPoint Health® – Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC)

 

On March 21, 2020, GRMC had confirmation of our first COVID-19 positive patient. This marks an anniversary that deserves reflection. Our team members at UnityPoint Health – Grinnell have all served a vital role – whether direct or indirect – in caring for our patients and communities during this global pandemic.

 

They make me proud to be a leader at GRMC. Together, our team has faced tough challenges. We have experienced personal and professional loss, and yet in the midst of so much uncertainty and change, we stood up strike teams to care for residents of our long-term care facilities. We implemented new clinic processes to keep respiratory illness separate from other illness and injury care and from those seeking well-care appointments. 

 

We adjusted processes and protocols through the ever-changing guidance and information, to best protect ourselves, our patients and our communities while still living our mission to improve the health of the people and communities we serve. We expanded our telehealth options and took necessary steps to keep our hospital and clinics safe and ready to care for patients. Each day, I could count on our team members to show up with compassion and determination.

 

When our team felt exhausted, individuals and organizations stepped up to let us know they were with us. Yard signs, coffee cards, snacks and donations fueled us forward when we needed it most. I’m grateful for the way our communities truly sought to understand the virus and embrace mitigation efforts to protect themselves, each other and our health care heroes.

 

Though we are still managing COVID-19 at work and in our personal lives, it has become part of our daily operations. Our local public health team is dedicated to the ongoing administration of vaccines, leading us closer to a brighter future, where the weight of the pandemic will continue to subside. 

 

We will undoubtedly learn more about the COVID-19 virus and variants in the coming months and years. As we move forward with cautious hope and continued efforts to keep each other safe, I want to share my genuine thanks and appreciation to the team members at UnityPoint Health – Grinnell and to our communities and patients for rallying with us in this past year and into the days ahead.

A Year Ago This Week...

Posted on 03/26/2021 at 10:54 AM
Earlier this week, I logged into my Facebook account and was met with my memories from a year ago. A year ago this week, we were in the early days of the pandemic, and had just gotten our school supplies to begin our school-from-home adventure. While my kids were elated for what was to come (don't worry, the elation quickly faded!), I was a bit more hesitant. There was so much uncertainty with absolutely everything. Could we go anywhere or do anything? Would our businesses survive what they were experiencing and what was to come? Would I be able to balance working from home while attempting to educate three kids? 
 
I'll be honest, those early days of the pandemic are now a bit of a blur to me, and I'm guessing to many others as well. Someone recently asked me about a conversation that happened early in the pandemic, and I could only respond that I vaguely remember where I was while we were having the discussion (in my driveway watching the kids ride bikes!) but had almost zero recollection of the actual topics discussed. Things were moving so quickly, and we were all balancing so much - in some ways it feels like a miracle that we are where we are today. And while we're certainly not done with COVID yet, things continue to improve and we're nearing our new normal ever-so-slowly. 
 
I want to give a shoutout to all of you reading who held it together through whatever you have faced to be where you are today. It wasn't easy, and still isn't, but it's getting better. And I hope that it's allowed each of us to realize just how important people, relationships, businesses, health and wellness, and so much more, are to our every-day lives. 
 
Keep on keeping on, friends! 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Let's Eat!

Posted on 02/11/2021 at 11:48 AM
Let's Eat!
Did you know there were over 300,000* people, 1 in every 10, in Iowa struggling with hunger and food insecurity pre-pandemic? Unfortunately that number has continued to rise throughout the past ten months and we have seen a local increase in SNAP benefit usage, Double Up Food Buck participation, visits to MICA and heightened use of the recently-formed Grinnell Food Coalition grocery voucher program. It is clear that hunger has, and continues to, impact our community. 
 
The Grinnell Food Coalition was established soon after the pandemic took hold, and has been working to support local families gain access to food since that time. The group recently learned of the USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, having participated late last year, but now has an opportunity to expand that partnership to reach more families in our area. The group will be partnering to bring 1,188 food boxes TODAY (February 11) to Grinnell to help support individuals and families around the area in need. Each box includes approximately 30 pounds of fresh foods (apples, oranges, onions, potatoes, milk, etc) to supplement individuals who may be continuing to feel the strain caused by the pandemic. There are no income guidelines or geographical boundaries to receive a box. Individuals or families interested in receiving a box can come TODAY to 2021 Hwy 6 (see map above) between 4 & 6PM to receive a box!
 
I'd like to give a BIG shoutout to the Food Coalition team who helped pull today's distribution together. Less than 2 weeks ago, the group had a meeting and decided to 'go for it' to help bring this much-needed food support to our area, and today they'll be working along with a number of community volunteers to help get 1,188 boxes of food in the hands of fellow community members. A truly amazing effort! 
--Rachael Kinnick 
 
p.s. Another truck will arrive on February 25 with an additional 1,188 boxes to help support our community so if today doesn't work for you, mark this date on your calendar! 
 
p.p.s. Last week we wrote to share about an exciting new program, Gifting Grinnell, and the first week's auction is now live! Check it out HERE
 
*Data from Feeding America.

Share the Love

Posted on 01/25/2021 at 11:15 AM
Share the Love
For those of you, like me, who haven't given it much thought yet: Valentine's Day is only 19 days away! If you celebrate Valentine's Day, we hope you'll consider ways to do it locally. Many of our businesses rely heavily on Valentine's Day as a major source of income for their business (think flower shops, chocolates, wine, desserts, etc) - even more so than the holiday season. And with many things still looking quite a bit different this year, we need your help to continue to support them! Given that many of us are still not in our pre-2020 routines (back to the office, in school, etc.) it may be easy to overlook sharing the love this Valentine's Day; however, we encourage you to find ways to continue to show your appreciation and love for those in your life while also supporting our locally owned businesses. 
 
Why not pick up a bouquet of flowers, a boutique experience, a new book, a gift card for dinner, a bottle of wine and/or some wonderful dessert from any of our restaurants? There is much to offer for the loved ones in your life this February, but get your orders in early so you can help our businesses plan ahead and staff appropriately! 
 
I hope you'll find ways to continue to share the love in the next few weeks! 
Rachael Kinnick

BYOB - Bring Your Own Blanket!

Posted on 12/04/2020 at 1:54 PM
This week's warmer-than-normal December days have us excited for all the ways to get out and embrace this beautiful weather. We encourage you to bring your own blanket to enjoy some outdoor time and support our small businesses in the process! Take some time next Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday (forecasted to be the warmest) to enjoy lunch in Central Park (or anywhere outdoors!) - order lunch from a locally-owned restaurant, bring your own blanket and enjoy it outdoors where you can more easily physical distance. What a great way to help support our restaurants, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet and could really use our support!
 
While you're at it, find a day to head to many wonderful shops right here in Grinnell as you enjoy the weather and get more of your holiday shopping completed. And if that's not enough, make plans to enjoy our beautifully decorated Central Park this holiday season. The weather will be perfect for it in the next couple weeks and the park looks wonderful thanks to an amazing team of volunteers. Most certainly something to give you some holiday cheer this season! 
 
As you do each of these, please make sure to do it safely while masking, maintaining physical distance and not participating if you do not feel well or are awaiting COVID test results. 
 
I hope you'll take some time to embrace this winter weather and support our small businesses. They NEED our support now and in the days to come. 
 
Mask Up & Support Grinnell this holiday season! 
--Rachael Kinnick

Giving Tuesday

Posted on 12/01/2020 at 11:37 AM

We talked with Jennifer Cogley with the Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation about how you can give locally this year. Below are the specific organizations discussed in our Facebook video but please know there are so many great organizations beyond these here in Grinnell. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions. You can call us at 641-236-6555.  

Grinnell Food Coalition: This organization was launched at the beginning of the pandemic to help address the needs of food assistance as a result of job loss, hour reduction, etc. They're currently serving over 290 families and over 700 individuals. Click HERE to learn more or donate.
 

Poweshiek Housing Assistance Fund: This fund was started pre-pandemic but expidiated to help those who are housing insecure. Monetary donations through the Ahren's Foundation can be made HERE or donations to care packages can be made at Drake Community Library. Call the library at 641-236-2661 for more details.
 

Grinnell Area Mental Health Consortium - JPK: Helps those seeking mental health care or assistance with prescription costs. Providers apply for individuals. Mental health needs continue to grow and more individuals will need help as we move through the pandemic and the winter months. Learn more and donate HERE.
 

Other Ahren's Family Foundation program information including Tiger Packs, S.H.E. Counts, and more can be found HERE.
 

Greater Poweshiek Community Foundation has over 200 local funds including the Grinnell-Newburg School District Foundation (helping students get access to internet services) and the Non-Profit Emergency Relief Fund. Learn more about all of their programs and donate HERE.
 

Small Business Relief Fund: Started by the Chamber to help our small businesses survive the pandemic. Click HERE to learn more and donate.
 

Chamber Champions: Support the Chamber of Commerce and our work supporting area businesses. Click HERE to learn more about this program and donation options.
 

Grinnell Area Arts Council: Not only can you purchase directly from local artists through their website, you can also support the organization in continuing to provide programing and opportunities for all ages in the arts. Click HERE to learn more.
 

Ministerial Association: Donations coming in this year have been reduced and the asks for assistance has increased. They help provide for lodging, food, gas, and other needs for people in Grinnell. To learn more and donate, call 641-236-4136.
 

Healthcare Organizations: All our healthcare organizations in Grinnell are non-profits. They're on the front lives of the pandemic fight. Learn more about the GRMC Foundation HERE, the St. Francis Foundation HERE, and the Mayflower Foundation HERE.
 

Don't forget to denote your local chapters of national organizations to make sure you donations have the biggest opportunity to support your local community.
 

Special thanks to the Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation for joining us to discuss these opportunities to and for their partnership as a premier investor in the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce.

Grinnell Gift Guide

Posted on 11/20/2020 at 4:30 PM

 

We created a collection of gift ideas to inspire you to look local this holiday season. With great retail options, beautiful home decor, fresh local food and more, there's something for everyone right here in Grinnell. Click HERE to view the gift guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saluting Small

Posted on 09/24/2020 at 4:01 PM
 
It's Small Business Week! Generally celebrated in May and recognized by the Small Business Administration, this year's promotion was moved to September due to the pandemic. Regardless of timing, we are excited to celebrate our small businesses this week and every week. There is no question our businesses, particularly our small businesses, have experienced one of the toughest years imaginable. 
 
The statistics are bleak. I've been on several calls this week with organizations that support small business across the country, and the outlook is concerning, at best. Several of them noted that approximately 30% of small business owners they support do not have the cash flow or business to keep them open through the end of the year. These numbers are even more-so concerning if you're one of the individuals who have poured your heart and soul into owning and operating a small business. 
 
Small business owners are entrepreneurial by nature - they take risks, they are independent, they drive growth and innovation. They are resilient, tenacious, creative and inventive. But they are tired, and they need us to rally around them. Just this week a few of our small businesses announced changes to their daily operations in an effort to help keep their businesses open for the long haul. Please do what you can to help support our small businesses this week during Small Business Week and every week thereafter. 
 
To the small business owners in our community: We see you trying to make ends meet and hold it all together. We are in your corner to help you get through these challenges, and are hoping for better days ahead. We salute you! 
--Rachael Kinnick 
 
p.s. If you'd like to support above and beyond your regular purchases, we are still accepting donations to the Grinnell Small Business Relief Fund which has helped provide support to more than 50 small businesses in Grinnell, and is continuing to make grant financial support as this pandemic continues. 

Article 1, Section 2

Posted on 09/17/2020 at 2:36 PM
It's Constitution Day! On this day, in 1787 the Constitution of the United States was signed. Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 articulates the need to count people on a regular and routine basis*. We are rapidly nearing the end of September which has been marked as 2020's last day to collect census data. If you have not yet done so, I strongly encourage you to take the next ten minutes to complete your 2020 Census by clicking here or by calling 844-330-2020.  
 
As of yesterday's date, Grinnell's response rate was reported at 72.2% and Poweshiek County is at 65.3% completion. These numbers have a huge impact on our community for the next ten years. If we have a large miscount, we will likely be fighting an uphill battle for the next ten years when it comes to receiving funding for things like roads, bridges, healthcare and education, among others. Additionally, the census is important from a business recruitment and retention standpoint - people are looking at these numbers on a routine basis when making decisions about whether or not to move to a community, starting a business or relocating a business. 
 
It is so important for our community to have a high response rate, and you have the power to make an impact. Please, please if you have not yet completed your 2020 Census, take time today on Constitution Day to be counted for Grinnell, for Poweshiek County and for Iowa.
--Rachael Kinnick 
 
*Verbiage from the Constitution: "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."  
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