Spring 2021

“Thanks to funding from United Way of Mahaska County, Mom could get the medical care she needed without worrying about the cost.” – Cathy

Palliative Care – A God Send for Family

With a bad cough and difficulty breathing, 77-year-old Joy Stahl went to the emergency room in September of 2018. A chest X-ray showed a large mass in her lungs, and my family’s world was turned upside down.

Mom was diagnosed with a type of quick spreading tumor, and the prognosis was very poor. She wanted her last days spent with family, not pursuing treatment options. She did, however, need the “comfort measure” of having built-up fluid drained from her lungs to breathe easier. While she was still in the hospital, I contacted Mahaska Health Hospice Services.

Mom was not eligible for Hospice due to pursuing comfort measures for her breathing. However, the Palliative Care Program offers home-based care that emphases pain and symptom control as well as support for the patient and family.

Unfortunately, insurance does not cover Palliative Care, which is why many hospices don’t offer it. Thanks to funding from the United Way of Mahaska County, Mom could get the medical care that she needed without worrying about the cost. A registered nurse and a social worker came to the home. A Homecare Aide gave Mom showers, making her feel comfortable and even joking with her, which Mom loved. In our darkest time, the Palliative Care team was a ray of sunshine.

It was less than a month, but we all knew the end was near. She was discharged from the Palliative Care Program and admitted to Hospice. Soon she was transferred to the Hospice Serenity House to better manage her pain. Mom passed away one day later, with her family at her side.

My family is so grateful that Mom was able to spend her last days on her terms, and United Way funding made that possible.

A Note From the Director

Thank you-thank you- thank you to everyone who helped make United Way of Mahaska County successful last year. You gave of your time, your talents and your resources. Because of your generosity, we reached our Campaign Goal. Mahaska County truly is Living United – Now More Than Ever.

I know that volunteering looked a little different in 2020, but you did not let that dampen your spirit. We became creative, took temps, had one person come in at a time to volunteer, wore masks and met virtually. The month of April is dedicated to volunteers, but here at United Way we know that volunteers should be celebrated all year long. If you are interested in volunteering with us, give Mycah a call or check our the opportunities on

With your help we were able to hand out almost 400 backpacks to school-ages children, distribute over 500 food boxes in mid-December, prepare taxes for the low income and elderly, and read to our community on Read Across America. United Way would not be able to support the community with these type of projects without the help of our dedicated volunteers.

There are several ways you can volunteer right now. We are currently looking for volunteers to help with summer lunch and to help us with a quilt. We invite everyone to participate in our 21 Day Equity Challenge. Watch our social media channels and Volunteer Mahaska for more opportunities as the year progresses.

Volunteers are making our community stronger and a better place to live. If you know someone who volunteers with United Way or another organization, be sure to tell them thank you.

Warmly, Michella

Volunteer Spotlight

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program is a program that offers free tax preparation to qualifying individuals and is run by IRS-certified volunteers. United Way of Mahaska County is fortunate to have a dedicated group of volunteers for this program. Each year this program completes around 200 tax returns. This year we seem to be on track to do the same. The pandemic has caused some extra work on the back end to ensure the safety of everyone involved, but things are running smoothly.

Read Across America

Launched in 1998, Read Across America was created as a way to encourage children to read. This year, United Way of Mahaska County had several guest readers that read throughout the evening on March 2nd.

You can watch these videos for the next month on the United Way of Mahaska County Facebook Page. Pictured above is Jac Munson, reading Milo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena.

Board Members

  • Ryan Colter, President
  • Maria DeStefano, Vice President
  • Larry Anderson, Treasurer
  • Courtney Perreault, Secretary
  • Amy Simmons
  • Roger Beane
  • Angella Gambell
  • Nik Rule
  • Dan Gillette
  • Nate Harris
  • Choua Sayaxang
  • Dan Adams
  • Melinda Walter

Funded Partners

The following agencies applied for and received United Way funding for 2021

  • 4-H Foundation
  • Agency on Aging
  • Family Crisis Center
  • Crisis Intervention Services
  • Ecumenical Cupboard
  • Homelessness Coalition
  • Imagine the Possibilities
  • Iowa Legal Aid
  • Love INC
  • Mahaska Health Foundation
  • Oskaloosa Education Foundation
  • Mahaska County YMCA

Mark Your Calendar

VITA Tax Program

This free service helps low to moderate-income individuals, persons with disabilities and the elderly file their taxes each year.

21 Day Equity Challenge

Designed to create a dedicated time and space to build more effective social justice habitsm particularly those dealing with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership. Watch our social media platforms for when this challenge will begin.

Summer Lunch Program

Begins early June. Serves a healthy meal to children ages 1 – 18 years old at several sites in the community. If you are interested in volunteering, contact Mycah at 641-673-6043 or

Back to School Fair

August 4, 2021 – a one day event where students in preschool through high school can pick up a backpack filled with school supplies. Registration is required.