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Rachael Kinnick
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Volunteerism to the Rescue!

Posted on 06/09/2022 at 3:27 PM
This week we saw first-hand how volunteerism helped save the day. As a boil advisory was issued Tuesday morning (since lifted) due to a water main break, community members came together to begin determining next steps and needs. 
In times of disaster, there are often unsung heroes, and while there are entirely too many to name, I want to recognize former Grinnell Hy-Vee store director, Ryan Benz, for his quick thinking to recognize that bottled water would be a major need. You see, Ryan is now the store director in Newton and immediately realized a number of people were starting to load up one item from his store: water. He instantly called to see if they could help coordinate an effort to provide water in the community, and in conjunction with Poweshiek Emergency Management's Brian Paul, there were 4 semis in Grinnell less than 4 hours later! On top of that, volunteers came out to help hand out water to community members - what an amazing thing to witness and be a part of! (Please note: I am naming only a couple folks here, but there were MANY, including Ben Hall of Fareway, who undertook similar efforts this week to keep our community going.) 
Volunteerism is important not just in times of disaster, but every day. I think it's easy to take for granted the community events, activities and initiatives and just expect that they will happen. But the reality is, they often need many sets of hands to help make them successful. This weekend proves this yet again, from the Rotary's Chicken BBQ being held today to Grinnell Little League's hosting of Small Town Baseball tournament starting tomorrow and Imagine Grinnell's Prairie Burn 100 being held on Saturday. There are many opportunities to get involved to help make our community a better place, and many of these organizations are desperate for help. 
Please consider giving of your time to help our community and its organizations, whether it be in times of disaster or any normal day. And if you're around this weekend, Imagine Grinnell is still in need of several folks to help make their event a success! 
--Rachael Kinnick 
p.s. As of 1:10PM today (Thursday), the boil advisory has been lifted for Grinnell! Many thanks to the City Water Department, their contractors, and all who helped coordinate disaster response efforts this week - we appreciate you all! 

Swelling Population

Posted on 06/02/2022 at 3:28 PM
This weekend and next, our population will swell approximately 15% as we welcome participants of Grinnell College's Alumni Reunion and Small Town Baseball, respectively. The economic impact of these two events cannot be understated, and our hotels and small retail/restaurant establishments in particular, are well aware of the impact events like this have on their place of business. 
Did you know that visitors are more likely to return to a location and/or consider a move in the future if they have a positive experience during their travels? Think of your own traveling - if you have a positive experience are you more or less likely to revisit? And what if you have a negative experience? 
When you see our guests out and about this weekend and next, I hope you will offer a friendly smile, wave or word of welcome to ensure they know just how grateful we are to have them here. 
--Rachael Kinnick 
p.s. A number of activities are planned this weekend including Farmers Market and the return of Music in the Park this evening in Central Park! Check out these and more upcoming events on our community calendar

OK! Brain Health Matters

Posted on 05/26/2022 at 3:30 PM
May is becoming nationally affiliated as Mental Health Awareness Month, and I'm here for it. Personally I don't think we talk about mental health enough, and we need to. Two years ago, we hosted one of our first Connecting for Women virtual events and had the pleasure of hearing from Jami Haberl of Iowa's Healthiest State Initiative as one of our speakers. The topic? Normalizing talking about mental health, which is why I am proud to wear a green OK button often. The number of people (just today, in fact!) who ask me what the button means, allowing us to have a quick conversation about mental health is astonishing and encouraging.
While talking about mental health is all fine and good, our speaker at this years' Connecting for Women event, Hayley DeGreve of the Gray Matters Collective, talked about mental health in the context of brain health, and for many on the call I think that normalized it even more. You see, we talk about general health often, right? We know we should eat healthy, get exercise, visit our doctor routinely, etc. but our brain health isn't necessarily at the forefront of those discussions. But it should be. We need to take more time for ourselves, find our passions, seek help and medications when we need them. 
I encourage you to seek your own brain health, whatever that looks like for you. Perhaps it's taking more days off, seeing a mental health specialist, or simply taking better care of you and looking out for those around you. Whatever it looks like, please do it. Our brain health is critically important to the way we function each and every day. Normalize talking about it, and make it OK! 
--Rachael Kinnick 

They're Always Dreaming!

Posted on 05/19/2022 at 3:30 PM
This has been a fun, albeit very busy, week in our household. The end of the school year is always one of my favorite times - to see how much my children have grown in a years' time and all that they've learned. It is a joy to see the progress from the start to the end of the year, and as final reports and tests are coming home for the summer it reminds me just how much they are always dreaming. Their dreaming would not happen in the same way if they didn't have such supportive and amazing teachers and staff to make it such a positive experience. 
Today's newsletter is a recognition of these individuals and how much they sacrifice to support our children. At a conference I attended this week, Dr. Ann Lebo, Director of Education, reminded those in attendance of the roles schools have, and continue to, play in addition to their role of education. They are a community hub of information, activity and support, and the teachers, staff and administration who give it their all every day should be commended (my words, not hers!) for the time, energy and love they pour into their students every single day. 
So as the school year comes to a close next week, please take a few minutes to say 'thank you' to those who are in the midst of educating the next generation day in and day out, whether you have current students or not. We may not always agree with every aspect of education and what or how things are taught, but one thing I hope we can all agree on is that we have some amazing folks helping build our young people into future leaders and I, for one, am grateful! 
--Rachael Kinnick 
p.s. Head to the Grinnell Farmers Market tomorrow morning from 10A-Noon for your chance to 'Plant a Pizza'! Thanks to Olson Garden Market for sponsoring this fun and free activity at market again this year.

Asparagus & Rhubarb A Plenty

Posted on 05/12/2022 at 3:31 PM
Wasn't it just last week I wrote I wasn't sure if spring would ever arrive?! Well, it seems we may have bypassed spring and gone straight to summer. Which is great when it comes to Farmers Market - today is opening day and it's certainly feeling a bit more like late summer weather, but we'll take it!
We are so excited to welcome back to market so many familiar faces and products while also welcoming new vendors to this season's lineup. For all the latest on the Grinnell Farmers Market, CLICK HERE. Did you know we also send a monthly Farmers Market email, with all things market related? Sign up to receive this monthly update HERE
We are incredibly appreciative of ongoing partnerships to help support the market and its operations. Special shoutout to Grinnell Mutual, UnityPoint Health Grinnell Regional Medical Center, Total Choice Shipping & Printing and Grinnell College. We are excited to be welcoming back some additional activities including the Plant-a-Pizza with Olson Garden Market at next week's Thursday & Saturday markets! 
Albeit a bit warm, today's weather will be beautiful and a wonderful excuse to get out of the office or house for a bit to come downtown to check out all the goodies opening day has to offer. We'll see you at Central Park this afternoon from 3-6PM, and Saturday morning from 10-Noon! 
--Rachael Kinnick

It's Small Business Week!

Posted on 05/05/2022 at 3:33 PM

According to the US Census Bureau, a majority of U.S. businesses have fewer than five employees - which is why we're excited to join in celebrating Small Business Week this week. Every year the Small Business Administration (SBA) determines a week to celebrate and highlight small businesses, and by their definition most of Grinnell's businesses qualify as small even though locally we often recognize them as mid or large-sized businesses. 
While we work to celebrate and highlight small businesses all year long, it's great to be able to highlight them locally and regionally this week. The Grinnell community wouldn't be what it is without so many amazing small businesses contributing and collaborating to build our local economy. 
As you look for your next purchase or service, please consider supporting our local small businesses as you do so. It truly does make an impact on their bottom line, and our community at-large. 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Feeling Cluttered?

Posted on 04/28/2022 at 3:33 PM
Maybe it's because it's time for spring cleaning (if spring would ever arrive!), but things feel a bit cluttered right now with tangible and intangible items. If you're feeling the same way, I invite you to join us next Thursday, May 5 for our Connecting for Women virtual event. The event will focus on women's wellness - whether it be improving mental health, physical exercise or finding organization in the chaos - the event will help attendees find some clarity and action items to help rid the clutter. 
I am so excited for this event - in part because of all the great topics and the ability to utilize this event as a catalyst to bring women together - but also because my former colleague, Emily, whom many of you may remember is going to be one of our speakers! This Connecting for Women event is sponsored by UnityPoint Health - Grinnell Regional Medical Center in partnership with Mahaska Communications Group and Grinnell College and will feature keynote speakers Emily Counts of Small Stuff Counts, Holly Pettlon with PWA Fitness Center and Haley DeGreve of Gray Matters Collective. 
I can't wait for this virtual event to learn some tips and connect with other women. You can find more information and secure your spot HERE. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be affiliated with the Chamber or one of our member businesses to attend this event, so please check it out and consider joining us next Thursday!
--Rachael Kinnick 

Get Out & Volunteer!

Posted on 04/21/2022 at 3:34 PM
It's National Volunteer Week! What a great time to recognize and say thank you to all those who volunteer their time to various events, activities and organizations to help make them and our community a better place to live, learn, work and play. We are grateful for all the volunteers at the Chamber, especially our Board of Directors who give of their time to help make ours a stronger organization. 
Have you ever heard the phrase 'voluntold'? Did you know a great way to avoid being 'voluntold' to do something is to volunteer?! ;) We're so excited that volunteer opportunities are making a comeback as many opportunities were canceled over the past couple of years. A number of community organizations are looking to host programming or events in which volunteers are needed, and you can help! We hear from folks all the time who are looking to get more engaged, or involved with the community, and volunteering is a great place to start. You can find more opportunities for volunteerism HERE.
We're looking to further build out the volunteer opportunities on our site so if you are a business or organization seeking volunteers, reply here and let us know about the opportunity to see if we may be able to help promote it! 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Rural is Rockin'

Posted on 04/15/2022 at 3:35 PM
Earlier this week, members of our team of board and staff had the opportunity to attend the Iowa Rural Development Council's 6th Annual Rural Development Summit. We appreciate the ongoing support of member business Grinnell Mutual for their willingness to help make this possible, and were happy to spend some time with member business The Bill Menner Group who helped put on the event. 
We spent the day with 350 colleagues and friends from across Iowa, all representing their own rural communities, who are rockin' rural. We came together to share information from one another about successes, challenges and opportunities. It was a great day of learning, spent brainstorming about future opportunities for our own community. 
One of the keynote presentations featured a journalist who spent the last year traveling to rural communities across Iowa, and talking with their residents to learn what made them unique and successful. One of his primary conclusions: communities with residents and leaders who clearly and emphatically love their community are making amazing things happen, regardless of size. So I'm curious - and there's no right or wrong answer here - on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the most), how much do you love Grinnell? 
--Rachael Kinnick 

Warmer Weather Ahead?

Posted on 04/07/2022 at 11:44 AM
I'm sitting here today daydreaming about all the things I can't wait to do when this weather warms up! I mean, it has to warm up, right?! From heading to all the parks to riding bikes, experiencing the Grinnell Mutual Aquatic Center and even more trips to Dari Barn, my family loves warm weather (though my children were strangely excited to see it snowing again this morning)! It seems to me that as Grinnellians, and Iowans for that matter, we do a much better job of embracing warmer weather than cold, so I'm curious to hear from you. What are your favorite things to do as the weather warms? What do you wish you could do that perhaps isn't as feasible? 
I'm genuinely interested to hear what you love, and what you wish we had. While not all ideas are likely to come to fruition, I enjoy hearing from community members to better formulate ideas, programs and efforts. Much of our work is spent connecting dots, pairing opportunities with people who express interest in making them happen and that is much easier to do when we have heard directly from residents and visitors alike!
--Rachael Kinnick 
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