Jul/Aug/Sept 2019


Your GiftTheir Story

It all started with a rock. Not a large rock, mind you, nor a very pretty one as far as rocks go. Just your average, wouldn’t give it a second look, rock. When I was younger, and I’m talking like even 80 years ago, I carried rocks like that one in my pocket. Never know when a feller might need a rock. Come in handy if a feller needed something to drop down a hole to see how deep it was, or to skip on a pond, or to show your buddies who could throw a rock the farthest. I guess you could say I never met a rock I didn’t like.

My mother never cared about the rocks in my pockets that I’d forget to take out and she’d have to empty out to do the “worshin.” We never said “washing,” it was pronounced “worshin.” Worsh rag, worsh behind your ears, worsh windows. My mother was a saint. Sure wish I would have remembered to take that toad out of my pocket that one time! I don’t recall her sounding too saintly that day.

Anyway, back to the rock. There it was. Laying in a crack in the driveway. I knew it was there and a couple times I did think to pick it up and put it in my pocket. Sure wish I would have listened to myself and picked that rock up. Stubbed my toe on that rock and went right down. By golly! I think that rock was just laying there planning to avenge the other rocks I had thrown around in my youth.

After a stay in the hospital for a broken shoulder, they sent me back home. When I got home, I picked up that rock and put it in my pocket. Carried it around every day.

I found it’s not easy to cook for yourself with one arm so thought I’d try out the lunch at the Senior Center. I picked a day on their menu I though I would like, called and made a reservation. I went early to check the place out. They’ve done a great job with the place. Great food. Great people.

I tell my kid’s I’ve not known what I was missing out on. It’s never too late to make ‘life-long’ friends and I’m so glad I stumbled onto it. I’ve been going there for a couple years now. Took some classes on balance, do some fun exercises and generally enjoy myself to the point if I miss, I do miss it. Walked in a couple years ago and there was a bunch of them sitting around a table painting rocks. Of all things. Rocks! Lady said “Grant Hall rocks!!! Don’t you want to paint a rock? Here’s a whole bucket of rocks so you can pick out a rock you want to paint.” “That’s OK,” I said. “I’ve brought my own.”

My name is Ben, but my friends call me Rocky.

A Note from the Director

Hi, my name is Michella; I am the new Director for United Way of Mahaska County. I have lived in Mahaska County for almost 10 years. I began volunteering for United Way a year ago and was hired as the Community Impact Coordinator in February. Throughout my time here, I have enjoyed getting to know the volunteers, our internal programs, and working with our funded partners. I am excited to watch United Way grow as we continue to build upon the foundation that has been laid by previous leaders.

Since our last newsletter, we have been busy. This summer we could be found throughout town feeding children at the Summer Lunch Program, getting kids ready for school at the Back to School Fair, and helping agencies and individuals with improvement projects during our Day of Caring.

These programs not only help to secure fundamental needs of our neighbors, but they also reaffirm the foundation of our community. They create spaces for us to come together in mutual caring and generosity, to build new relationships and to learn from one another.

As you read through this newsletter, take note of all the great things that have been going on. Mark your calendars with our upcoming events. If you haven’t already done so, like our Facebook page so you will have the most up to date information on all our activities.

– Michella

United Way Corner

Recently United Way of Mahaska County began partnering with The Oskaloosa Herald. Every Friday you can find the United Way Corner tucked inside our local paper. These articles are filled with information about our funded partners and how United Way is helping their programs. It is an easy way for you to become familiar with our agencies and the programs you help fund.

Thankful Thursday

Every Thursday beginning at the end of May, the Alley, located by Smokey Row, is filled with the sounds of music and socializing. These Thankful Thursdays are hosted by a different group each week and feature a live band. This year United Way hosted a Thankful Thursday on July 4th. We had a photo booth and a United Way cornhole to fill the time and make picture memories.

Back to School Fair

The Back to School Fair just keeps growing. Families needing help getting ready for school were able to receive a backpack, supplies, shoes and a haircut. Children from the Oskaloosa School District could register for school and iSmile was available for dental screening for students entering kindergarten and ninth grade. Families visited vendors, children played at the Imagination Playground and participated in an obstacle course. Tom the Terrific was on hand to make balloon shapes for any interested child. What a great way for families to have fun and see what Mahaska County has to offer!

This event is planned by a committee comprised of United Way, YMCA, Salvation Army, and the Oskaloosa School District.

Back to School Fair Sponsors:

  • Ajinomoto
  • Clow
  • B&B Bedding
  • Bank Iowa
  • Phil Griffin Agency – American Family

Day of Caring

Day of Caring took place on September 11th. This is a day designed for the community to give back to the community through volunteerism. Over 140 volunteers worked on projects ranging from painting at Imagine the Possibilities, pulling weeds at the Butterfly Garden, washing windows at New Sharon Childcare and Preschool, repairing a ramp for a homeowner and so much more. Groups could choose to work only in the morning, only in the afternoon, or the whole day. All volunteers were invited to have lunch together at St. Mary’s Parish Center to refuel, cool off and enjoy the company of other volunteers. The saying many hands make light work was proven to be true. It is amazing what a group of dedicated people can accomplish in a short amount of time. Click here for a video of the day.

Agencies/Individuals who volunteered for Day of Caring:

Bank Iowa, Cargill Eddyville, Clow, Edward Jones, Imagine the Possibilities, Mahaska Board of Supervisors, MidAmerican Energy, MidwestOne Bank, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group, Oskaloosa Rotary, Abby, Lu, & Mike

Your Gift, Their Story

During the Winter 2019 Growing Hope session, I learned how to heal from my past so I could find who I truly am and look to the future with hope. Through the Faith and Finance class, I was able to track my spending more closely and make adjustments to my expenses. I learned so much from these two classes that I signed up for this Spring’s session. Now I’m learning about healthy relationship boundaries and how to balance tenderness and discipline in my parenting.


Board President, Dan Adams and Executive Director, Michella Friesen, at the Breast Cancer Awareness Walk.

Community members participating in the Day of Caring at the YMCA.

Community locals using photobooth props to support United Way.

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Having fun playing Cornhold during our Thankful Thursday on July 4th.