Club Information

Welcome to our club!


Service Above Self

We meet Tuesdays at 6:00 PM
West Side Family Restaurant
229 West Sixth Avenue
Grinnell, IA  50112
United States of America
District Site
Venue Map

   Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, October 29, 2019, for a meal, meeting, and program.

     The focus of the short business meeting was the Shults & Company performances scheduled for February 2020.  The proceeds of this project will benefit the local fire department.

     The speaker for the evening was Valerie Steinbach, Executive Director of Grinnell Community Daycare and Preschool.  Steinbach is a resident of Newton, Iowa, and has five children. She reported that the daycare center is now fifty years old, and can accommodate one hundred ninety-five children.  Children, ages ten weeks through ten years, may be enrolled at the center, and presently one hundred fifty children are enrolled. Forty-one staff members care for the children. The new name of the organization is Grinnell Community Early Learning Center, and it is a non-profit organization.   It is located at the Ahrens Center, a building now twenty-six years old. The center applies for grants to assist families who qualify, for monthly fees.

     Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.

Dennis Conway



Eleven percent of Poweshiek County residents are food insecure.

Thirty-six percent are one emergency away from slipping into poverty.

Thirty-five percent of students in the school district are on reduced lunch.

These were some of the sobering statistics that Jennifer Cogley, AmeriCorps VISTA project coordinator for Imagine Grinnell, shared with Grinnell Rotarians during their weekly meeting on Nov. 5.

Cogley learned of these statistics while researching food insecurity in Poweshiek County this summer.   Her efforts led to the development of a resource guide to finding food in Grinnell.

Rich in information, the guide has sections on food pantries, food distribution, and access to fresh produce.

Most residents know that Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) operates a food pantry.  But there is also a food pantry in Montezuma, at Grinnell High School and Grinnell Middle School.

Hot food is distributed on various days at different sites –  at First Presbyterian Church at noon three times a week through the Food Recovery Network while Grinnell College is in session; the Community Meal on Tuesdays at 5:45 p.m. at Davis Elementary School; and Blessed Community Meal at United Methodist Church on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. All these are free and open to the public.  

In addition, Meals and Wheels provides meals to homebound seniors and Tiger Packs or backpacks with food are distributed to some school children on Fridays.

Fresh produce is likewise available in several ways.  Fareway and Farmers’ Market provides coupons to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) recipients who purchase fresh produce up to $10 that they can spend on more fresh items. Food Connection provides weekly food boxes with fresh vegetables courtesy of local farmers participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).  Finally, Giving Gardens are planted and maintained by volunteers in nine locations during summer. Any resident can pick the vegetables; the rest are brought to MICA.

The food resource guide is available in print.  The information will likewise be put on Imagine Grinnell’s website soon. More importantly, it will be a basis for developing more effective ways to coordinate and expand on the efforts of volunteers and local organizations to address food insecurity in Poweshiek County.  

The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.


Grinnell Rotary Club met Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at 6:00 p.m., for a meal, meeting, and program.  

     During the business meeting, a discussion was held on the recently completed event, Kites Over Grinnell.  All agreed that it was a very successful event, and a fun, family-oriented activity. The weather was great, and the community was well represented.  Next, the club members discussed the upcoming project, the Shults and Company Program. This is a musical performance, scheduled at Hotel Grinnell for February 20, 21, and 22, at 7:30 p.m.  Proceeds from the Shults and Company performances will benefit Grinnell’s local fire department.

     Rotarian Brent Nickel introduced the speaker for the evening, Mike O’Conner, with the Boy Scouts of America.  Boy Scouts originated in London, England, in 1908. Girl Scouts began in 1910. The programs are not co-ed, but at the present time, there is litigation pending to bring the two organizations together.  Grinnell has both Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops. The scouting organizations are working toward building up their memberships.

     Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.

 Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, August 27th, for a meal, meeting, and program.  

     During the short business meeting, the main topic of discussion was the upcoming event, Kites Over Grinnell.  Kites Over Grinnell will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m., at Ahrens Park.  Rotarians are providing kite kits to Grinnell elementary students in grades K - 4, and the kits will be assembled in art classes.   At Kites Over Grinnell, there will be open flying (so bring your kites and join in), performing kites, kites flying to music, and a free lunch . Best of all, the watching is FREE!  Mark your calendars and plan to join in on Saturday, September 28th.

     Speaker for the evening was Shane Estes, who spoke of his trip to the United Kingdom.  He and his traveling buddy, Jim Ahrens (Rotarian, now deceased), planned and took the trip together.  Estes played a video, which highlighted the many sites that they saw, and he added his comments as the program progressed.  Estes and Ahrens did research on World War II during their time in the UK. The two saw a lot and enjoyed their trip so much that they became traveling buddies for trips scheduled later.

     Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.   


Dennis Conway


Service dogs can help veterans resume normal lives, according to Travis Thomson, a veteran who spoke at the Grinnell Rotary Club meeting held Tues., Aug. 6.

Travis Thomson, formerly of Boulder, CO., and now of Grinnell, IA, served in the army from 2010 to 2019.  Soon after his basic training, he was deployed to Iraq in April 2011 as part of the last battery to eventually leave Iraq later that year.  While there he encountered heavy indirect fire, mostly from mortars and improvised explosive devices or IED’s.

Never hit directly, he came home in time for Thanksgiving that year. However, his behavior was not normal.  Walking through a department store one day, he reacted quite violently to a noisy battery-operated toy dog. “I punched that toy clear across the floor,” said Thomson.  He realized it was an abnormal reaction to “a benign situation.”

Thomson had a heightened sense of awareness, always on alert, conditioned to identify threats. “Imagine if you thought you might always be in danger,” he said. “It was exhausting.”  He was suffering from sensory overload. The worst was when he would sleep and get nightmares that made him violent.

Yet he soldiered on. After leaving active duty in 2013, he joined the Army Reserve while trying to resume civilian life.  He taught fifth grade in Colorado and enjoyed it. 

In 2014 he helped an army buddy in Grinnell recover from surgery.  He found Grinnell to be “so quiet and peaceful” unlike the noise and bustle of the big city.  He called his wife Katelyn and said, “I think I found Mayberry.” He moved his family, got a job at Jeld-Wen as group manager, and his wife was hired by Wal-mart.

The year 2016 was a bad year.  A couple of his army buddies committed suicide followed by two more soon thereafter. He said, “It is one thing to lose someone to suicide; it is another to know someone who seemed so strong on the outside yet take his life.”

Thomson reached a breaking point.  He sought help from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Iowa City. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), he was put on medication and underwent treatment like prolonged exposure therapy.  But none of the treatments worked. His doctor suggested having a service dog.

Thomson’s first service dog was Major, a beautiful Lab.  When Major died, he got Sadie, a Red Heeler, also known as Australian Cattle Dog. Trained by the American Kennel Club, Sadie is quite intelligent and knows about 150 words.  A steady companion, Sadie stays with Thomson as long as he is up and wakes him up when he is having a violent nightmare. Sadie goes wherever Thomson goes, including to his job as owner of Major Home Improvement, LLC., a business he started two years ago.  Thomson says that people can tell his mood depending on how Sadie looks. “If she is laying on the floor, relaxed, then people know I’m having a good day.” Sadie has definitely been a calming influence in Thomson’s life and a welcomed addition to the family.

Thomson and his wife and family are happy in Grinnell.  Thomson is taking one day at a time. He enjoys his job and is looking forward when school starts for his three children, all named after US presidents – Jackson, 7; Carter, 4; and Pierce, 2.

Thomson has a message for other Veterans: if you need help, go to the nearest VA.  They’ve done wonders for him and knows they will, too, for any veteran needing help

The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.


Grinnell Rotary met July 29, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. for a meal, meeting, and program. 

     During the short business meeting, the main topic of discussion was Kites Over Grinnell.  Rotary is sponsoring Kites Over Grinnell, which will take place September 28TH.

     The guest speaker for the evening was Steve Johnson, of Johnston, IA.  He presented a program on fraud. This is a big topic that cannot be covered in a small article, so I am concentrating my space on one facet only.  AARP Fraud Watch Network has identified 13 ways that con artists can steal your money. 1) Phishing…Someone contacts you via email and says that there is some problem with your bank account and you need to verify this account with a social security number, bank routing number or birth date.  2) Stealing mail or sensitive documents…Personal information is taken from your trash, your office or from social media websites and used to steal your identity. 3) Bogus job opportunities…bogus job offers are made on various employment websites, and then use your personal information provided in the job application.  4) Gold coin scam…You are conned into purchasing gold coins that are priced at a mark-up that will result in you losing money the minute you buy them. 5) Free lunch…You are invited to a free lunch where an investment will be offered, you have no time to think about whether it is a scam, since the you are required to sign up now.  6) Oil and gas scams…You are encouraged to invest in drilling for oil where there has never been oil before, which could result in you striking out while trying to strike it rich. 7) Fake checks. 8) Tech support scams…You get a call that your computer has a virus. You allow the con to remotely take control of your computer, and they actually install a virus, and charge you to remove it.  9) Disaster-related charity fraud…Scammers use natural disasters to set up fake charity websites to raise money for the victims, and the money actually benefits the criminals. 10) Sweetheart scams…You go to a dating website hoping to find your special someone, a con artist shows an interest in you but can never meet in person, and eventually asks you for money. 11) Timeshare scams…You try to sell your timeshare, and are contacted by a con artist who says they work for a company that helps to sell timeshares, and after you pay the upfront fee, they disappear.  12) Grandparent scam…Con artist calls a grandparent and pretends to be grandson or granddaughter, saying that they have been arrested or detained. They need you to wire funds. 13) The foreign lottery scam…You are informed that you have won a foreign lottery, and all you have to do to collect your winnings is wire them a prossessing fee, when in fact, you have won nothing. Some prevention tips include: protect your social security number and personal information, monitor your bills and financial accounts, watch over your credit reports, protect your personal identification  numbers and passwords, protect your information online, protect your mail, and be cautious of scams and frauds.    

     Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at West Side Family Restaurant at 6:00 p.m.

    Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, May 28th, for their weekly meal, meeting, and program.

    The main topic of discussion at the business meeting was the Rotary Annual Chicken Barbecue, which is coming up on Thursday, June 13th.

    Rotarian Mike Olson introduced the speaker for the evening, Jeff Stein.  Stein is an educator, journalist, and attorney. He holds the title of R. J. McElroy Chair and Executive-In-Residence in Communication Arts at Wartburg College, where he teaches broadcasting and media law and ethics courses.  Stein also serves as executive secretary of the Iowa Broadcast News Association. He is an award winning broadcaster, and has worked for a number of Iowa stations, and also has served as political analyst for a couple of stations.  Stein has spoken around the country on broadcasting, journalism, and mass media topics. He and his wife Carole Lackey, live in Waverly, Iowa. His presentation in Grinnell included a history of the broadcasting industry (both radio and television) in Iowa.  Stein explained how The Floppy Show began, and progressed through the years. Young Iowans were entertained by The Floppy Show for many years.

    Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at West Side Family Restaurant at 6:00 p.m.


Dennis Conway


Senator Joni Ernst spoke at the Grinnell Rotary Club regular meeting on Tues., July 2nd, her sixth stop that day on her 10-day break from Washington D.C.

As expected, she spoke of issues she considered important to Iowans. Among them are her support of E15 fuel and the need for vigilance over Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) so that large oil companies do not get waivers for smaller refineries that they own, exempting them from ethanol production requirements.  

Ernst cited the need for additional disaster relief for farmers affected by recent flooding in addition to the passage of the Disaster Relief Act. She talked about farmers owning grain bins along the Missouri River that burst during the flood, ruining $7 million worth of stored grain—a loss not covered by insurance.

Less known are her efforts to work on a paid family leave act that would enable new parents to have paid family leave when they have a baby.  Among other things, the bill will allow these parents to defer retirement by two months for every month of paid family leave.  

Ernst spoke lengthily of her work on lowering the cost of prescription drugs through specific bills that would prevent “patent thickening” – the practice of pharmaceuticals to change a patent slightly that extends the life of the patent - and “sham patent transfers” that occur when a drug company sells a patent to a Native American tribe that is considered a sovereign nation, and thus, outside U.S. jurisdiction.

She emphasized the need for constituents to reach out to lawmakers to help them become  aware of what is going on in a community. 

The Grinnell Rotary Club meets on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at West Side Family Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.


   Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. for their weekly meal, meeting, and program.

    During the business meeting, the main topic of discussion was the Rotary Annual Chicken Barbecue, which is scheduled for June 13, 2019.   It is taking place a little later this year, mainly because school is letting out later than usual. Rotary members also signed up to help in the concession stands at the Ahrens Little League Complex during the spring and summer months.

    Club member Dennis Snook introduced our speaker for the evening, Kathryn Bly.  Bly chose to speak on the topic of Human Trafficking. She said human trafficking is big business across the United States, and it accounts for forty billion dollars a year.  This figure is only second to the amount that the drug trade brings in. Human trafficking involves the buying and selling of humans, mainly women. Eighty-two percent of the women who are bought and sold in the U.S. are age 11-14.  In Iowa, the ages run from 16 to 21. The men who are in charge of these women are known as Full Pimps or Daddies. Many of the girls are found on Craig’s List and want ads, but they are most often found in person. Does human trafficking happen in Iowa?  Yes, mainly because Interstate 80 and Interstate 35 provide easy access. In Iowa, there are fourteen truck stops where human trafficking takes place. Bly also reported that other places in Iowa where human trafficking occurs include the Iowa State Fair, the Drake Relays, and the Iowa Speedway.  Because the human trafficking problem is far out of control, a number of organizations are offering their help to slow this activity.

    Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.


Dennis Conway



    Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, March 26, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. for their weekly meal, meeting, and program.

    The brief business meeting consisted of a short financial update.

    The program was presented by a local historian, Karen Groves.  Karen’s topic of discussion was a tour of Hazelwood Cemetery (in her own words).  Research for the tour of Hazelwood Cemetery was done by Betty Ernst and Karen Groves, and they both worked long and hard to complete it.  One interesting fact that Groves reported was: In the early years of Hazelwood Cemetery, family members would care for or maintain their own grave site.  The cemetery is now owned by the City of Grinnell. Groves detailed some interesting facts about Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, whose final resting place is in Hazelwood Cemetery.  J.B. Grinnell (as a conscientious breaker of the Fugitive Slave Law) used his influence, his home, and wool barn to aid escaping slaves in their quest for freedom. Founder of Grinnell, Josiah Bushnell Grinnell, is buried in Hazelwood Cemetery, on land that he donated to the town.  Josiah B. Grinnell’s gravesite, overlooking the community named for him, is the best place to commemorate his extensive involvement in the Underground Railroad. Hazelwood Cemetery is open to the public seven days a week during the daylight hours.

    Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 @ 6:00 p.m., Grinnell Rotary met for their weekly meal, meeting,
and program. Several guests were present for the special program, along with six Grinnell
High School seniors who were working on the requirements to qualify for a Rotary scholarship.
At the short business meeting, the Rotary Annual Chicken Barbecue date was announced for
2019. June 13, 2019, will be the chicken barbecue date. It was noted that this date is a week
later than most earlier barbecues due to school letting out late this year.
The program for the evening was presented by Rotarian Gerald Adams, and his wife Sara.
They took an 82 day cruise, returning in January 2019. Their first stop was in Alaska and the last
stop was in Hawaii, with many stops in between. Gerry and Sara sailed with Holland America
on their cruise, and along the way, they visited 12 countries, 1 American possession, and 2
states. The trip covered a total of 23,000 miles. The presentation included many photos
depicting the culture, people, and scenery of places such as Russia, Japan, China, Singapore,
Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Australia (to name a few). All present enjoyed the program, and
many took the opportunity to imagine how interesting a trip such as this would be. Thank you
to Gerry and Sara for a very enjoyable program.
Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.
Dennis Conway

    Tuesday, March 5, 2019, Rotary members honored local farmers and those who work in agriculture related jobs.  Approximately 42 club members and special guests were in attendance.

    Guest speaker for the evening was Aaron Putze, Director of Communications and External Relations for the Iowa Soybean Association.  Putze began his program with some statistics of Iowa soybean production. Iowa is 2nd in soybean production, 1st in corn production, and 1st in egg production, in the world.  In Iowa, 86% of the land is used for growing crops, and Iowa has the 10th best soil for growing in the world.  

    Grinnell Rotary members thank the farmers for their hard work, and for taking time in their busy schedules to attend this special meeting.

    Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at the West Side Family Restaurant.


Dennis Conway


    On December 18, 2018, Grinnell Rotarians met at West Side Family Restaurant for their weekly meal, meeting, and program.

    Following a brief business meeting, the speaker for the evening was introduced.

    Marilyn Kennett, Grinnell City Librarian, was the speaker, and her topic for the evening was Trust.  When library staff interviews candidates for employment, one of the questions asked is…… what do the words “intellectual freedom” mean to you.  Most candidates come up with something close for an explanation. Marilyn stated that it makes her feel good when a 14 year old applying for a library page position talks about freedom to read what you want to read without feeling like you are being judged.  Many studies show that libraries are among the most trusted institutions. According to a 2015 study by Pews Research, 78% of adults say that public libraries help them to find information that they consider to be trustworthy and reliable. Marilyn said that a whopping 87% of Millennials, or those who are age 18 to 35, are the biggest users of libraries in the United States.  So, perhaps, libraries in general have a good handle on trust because of their policies on confidentiality and the fact that they do not operate on a commercial basis. When it comes to trust, it is important to be perceived as part of the local community. Trust can lead to community partnerships.

    Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m.


Dennis Conway

This past Tuesday, November 27, 2018 the Grinnell Rotary Club gathered at the Westside Family Restaurant for their weekly meeting.   The Rotary Club's guest speaker was Deanna Vogt from Second Mile, who shared information about the history of the Christmas Share program.   

Vogt expressed that the Christmas Share began in 1987 in which volunteers identified those families with a financial or health need to have something extra during the holiday seasons. Original items provided were a towel or sweatshirt.  Over the years, the Christmas Share program changed in order to give items that were needed and identified by families. Today the Christmas Share serves more than 170 families. Organizations throughout the community signed up to serve families between September and October this past year.  Sponsors who sign up received an anonymous family, and were provided a needs list in which they would purchase and donate items for the family. Items purchased by sponsors will be distributed on December 15. The Grinnell- Newburg Boys Basketball Team under the leadership of Coach Sharp, will once again help on distribution day.  

If you are looking for more information regarding the Christmas Share program, please contact Pam Montgomery at Second Mile.      

Rotary will meet next week on Tuesday December 4, 2018 at Westside for their Holiday Dinner and singing performed by Shults and Company.   


Janet M. Stutz



    Grinnell Rotary met November 6, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. West Side Family Restaurant for their weekly meeting, meal, and program.

    After the meal, a business meeting was held.  We discussed the help Rotary members would be giving to the Jingle Bell Holiday on November 16th.  Another topic on the agenda,  was organizing for Rotarian participation in ringing  the bell for the Salvation Army at local stores on December 1st.

    The speaker for the evening was introduced by member Nancy VanTomme, who introduced Taz Stills, Senior Recruitment Specialist for the American Red Cross.  Stills presented her program through a power point presentation. The American Red Cross Iowa Region Headquarters is located at 2110 Grand Ave., in Des Moines.  The region has 800 volunteers, 24 paid staff members, and serves 2.8 million people. The Iowa region serves 96 counties in Iowa, 1 county in Nebraska, and 1 county in South Dakota.  A popular Red Cross project , called the Pillow Case Project, is supported by the Disney Corporation. The Pillow Case Project is provided to any group along with training from the Red Cross, at no cost.  Students design their own pillow cases to store their keepsakes in, much as a treasure chest would be used. The Red Cross presents the project to schools, and currently, 2.3 million people have been educated on this project.  As always, the Red Cross is ready to meet emergency needs for disaster victims, down the street and around the world.


Dennis Conway

Grinnell Rotarians met November 13, 2018, at West Side Family Restaurant for their weekly meeting, meal, and program.  

    During the business meeting, two upcoming activities were discussed.  December 1st, members will be serving as bell ringers for the Salvation Army, and on December 8th, Rotary members will be helping with a celebration for Santa in the Park.

    Speakers for the evening were Tom and Carol Narak, Co-Governors of Rotary District 6000.  They reported that there are 66 Rotary Clubs in District 6000. They mentioned that the reading programs benefiting students, sponsored by local Rotary Clubs, are very strong, and to keep up the good work.  Tom suggested several ideas for attracting new members . He also praised the work that Grinnell Rotary is doing. Tom concluded his talk with this final reminder……..always remember, service above self.

    November 20, 2018, Rotarians met for a meal, meeting, and program.

    Member Doug Cameron introduced the speakers for the evening, Ashley Grundler and Sandy Motta.  Their program was Big Brothers Big Sisters. Ashley Grundler is the Mentor Coordinator of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.  Her focus is the students at Davis School, who participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters. Sandy Motta is responsible for the students at Bailey Park , who participate in the program.  Both Ashley and Sandy said that one caring adult in a child’s life is the essence of what Big Brothers Big Sisters is about. A mentoring organization’s goal is to tip the scale in a positive direction.  As positive support accumulates, children learn coping skills, helping them to deal with traumas that they have faced or will face. Some of these coping skills include the ability to problem solve, to plan, to monitor, and to regulate their behaviors and emotions.  So, what does it take to overcome childhood adversities? One caring adult. One mentor.

    Grinnell Rotary meets every Tuesday at West Side Family Restaurant, at 6:00 p.m.


Dennis Conway

This past Tuesday, October 30, the Grinnell Rotary Club gathered at the Westside Family Restaurant for their weekly meeting.   The Rotary Club's guest speaker was Grinnell High School Senior, Riley Osborne.  Riley shared her story as the Grinnell’s Rotary recipient of the Rotary Youth Leadership Award, RYLA.  As a RYLA recipient, dollars are allocated in order for the student to attend the leadership conference during the summer months.
Riley expressed, “this leadership conference was phenomenal and life changing”.  She explained that she had an opportunity to meet many people, learned not only about leadership development, but also how not to stigmatize a person’s ability based upon age. Riley was impressed by the counselors who lead various activities. She shared a letter from Danica Nolton, graduate from GHS, former RYLA recipient and now RYLA counselor, who thanked the Grinnell Rotary for supporting student scholarships and the RYLA event.  Danica expressed in her letter asking for more Grinnell Rotarians to participate in RYLA as she was so impressed with Rotarian role models who were there guiding counselors through various activities.   Riley thanked the Rotary group for affording her the opportunity to be a part of the RYLA team. Riley stated, “Rotary is shaping the minds and abilities of our youth by affording this wonderful experience to young people”.  Riley committed herself to encourage other high school students to apply for the RYLA scholarship.
Rotary will meet next week on Tuesday November 6, 2018 at Westside.  Next week the Rotarians will host a speaker from the Red Cross Pillow Project.
Janet M. Stutz

This past Tuesday, October 4, 2018 the Grinnell Rotary Club gathered at the Westside Family Restaurant for their weekly meeting.   The highlight of this meeting was to re-cap the Kites over Grinnell Event that occurred on September 29, 2018.  Bruce Blankenfeld shared photos and indicated that, “we clearly do this for the good of the community.  This is an event in which all community members can come out to enjoy watching our students and professional kite fliers from all over the country fly unique kites”.   Although cold and potential rain threatened the outdoor event at Ahrens Park, it did not stop the many community members from attending.

The Grinnell Rotary donated the materials for the event for all students with the help from their sponsors.

More than 800 students in Kindergarten through sixth grade participated in building either a sled or diamond designed kite.  Farren Johnson, k-4 art teacher and Josh Wardenburg, GMS art teacher invited Rotary, PTO, and members from the community into their classrooms to aide in the construction of the kites.  More than 200 students attended the event throughout the day on Saturday to test out their kite flying skills. Games, food, and spectacular kite flying views masked the cold and potential rainy weather.  

Professional Kite flyers came in from Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, Texas, Pennsylvania and Minnesota along with our very own kite flyers from Grinnell.   The annual event will be held next year on September 28, 2019. We hope that our community will come out to enjoy some spectacular sites!


Janet M. Stutz

Photos were taken by GHS student Rebecka Reed


Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, September 11, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.  On the agenda were a meal, business meeting, and program.

    The majority of the business meeting was spent organizing and reviewing the details for the upcoming event:  Rotary Kites Over Grinnell, which will be held Saturday, September 29, 2018, at the Ahrens complex.

    Rotarian Gerry Adams introduced the speaker for the evening, Rachel Bly.  Bly first became interested in tonight’s topic, Emergency Management, through her role on the city council, and her role at the college.  She has taken FEMA classes online, followed by a month long set of classes at the Basic Academy. Bly stated that the vision of emergency management seeks to promote safer, less vulnerable communities with the capacity to cope with hazards and disasters.   In 1802, the Congressional Disaster Relief Act was passed, giving federal aid in a disaster to businesses. The next step in emergency relief was Civil Defense. In the 60’s and 70’s, a series of natural disasters hit the U.S., most of them having impacts that were much greater than the local community could handle.  In 1979, President Carter created FEMA, and in 1988, the Stafford Act was passed. This put into place the system that we have today, and allows for a presidential declaration that frees up money to assist with disaster response and recovery. It also gives FEMA the authority to coordinate response efforts and covers all hazards, including terrorism and natural events.  FEMA has a bit of a checkered history, with Hurricane Katrina being one example of a disaster where many things went wrong. Major reforms have been implemented since Katrina. Using the theory of whole community, every one of us has a role in a disaster, we share a responsibility in preventing a disaster (by being aware, reporting things that are out of the ordinary, learning about mitigation); being prepared personally and in our organizations, and by being a part of the recovery efforts if a disaster should strike.

    Rotary meets every Tuesday at West Side Family Restaurant.


Dennis Conway



    Grinnell Rotary met Tuesday, August 21, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.  A meal, business meeting, and a program were on the agenda.

    Most of the business meeting was spent organizing for the annual celebration, Kites Over Grinnell.  This year, Kites Over Grinnell will take place in late September.

    Mayor Dan Agnew was introduced as speaker for the evening.  He is a born and raised Grinnellian, a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and a former teacher and coach in the Newton School District.  He joined Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance and retired in 2010 after a 40 year career, which included 19 years as President and CEO. In 2009, Agnew was inducted into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame.  Dan is currently serving his first year as Mayor of Grinnell. Mayor Agnew reported that Grinnell is in good financial shape, as evidenced by the repairing of our city streets. He praised the employees of the city, and stated that they are a very dedicated group of employees.  He believes that Grinnell’s new, improved Central Park is a great addition to our downtown, and mentioned that there are many projects currently in progress throughout the city. Dan Agnew said that he is honored to serve as the Mayor of Grinnell.

    Rotary meets every Tuesday at West Side Family Restaurant.  


Dennis Conway


Habitat for Humanity had a presence in Grinnell sometime ago.  It can do so again. All that is needed is ten good volunteers.


That was the message that Lance Henning, executive director of Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity, had for Rotarians at its weekly meeting held Tues., June 19.


A native of Iowa, Henning became involved with Habitat through a church study group as a young student.  He made it his career after college, serving as executive director in Kansas City and 15 years in Des Moines.


Henning said that Habitat partners with the community to build affordable housing for people in need.  They also provide critical home repair opportunities. The Des Moines Office currently has projects and volunteers in Polk, Dallas and Jasper counties.


The typical family that is helped by Habitat has to meet three criteria: need, willingness to partner, and the ability to pay.  The homebuyers put in sweat equity into their own home as well as render volunteer hours at other Habitat homes. They are required to take the Blueprint to Homeownership course that focuses on financial education and homeownership responsibilities.  They purchase their home from Habitat with an affordable mortgage.


Volunteers are at the heart of Habitat.  One does not need to have construction experience, according to Henning.  There are experienced people who will show volunteers what needs to be done for a particular project.  Henning said, “You will be surprised by what you can do.”


Typical projects are exterior home repair, weatherization, safety and accessibility improvements, and landscape planting.


Another Habitat service is ReStore, a store that sells new and used home improvement materials at discounted prices.  There are two ReStore locations in the Greater Des Moines area. Habitat also has a tool lending library available to volunteers to borrow tools.


Habitat is currently in 70 countries and in all 50 states in the US, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.  The most famous Habitat volunteer is President Jimmy Carter, who at 93, still renders 20 hours of volunteer work when he is on a job.  He’ll be in South Bend, IN, soon, and was in Canada for a project last year.


The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining on 6th Ave., Grinnell.


 This week’s Grinnell Rotary Club speaker was fellow Rotarian Zach Weiderspon.  Zach recently began a new role as the Director of Integration and Planning for UnityPoint Health – Des Moines.  In that role, he is charged with helping lead UnityPoint Health – Grinnell Regional Medical Center’s transition into the UnityPoint Health System.  Prior to taking this new role Zach served as a member of the Finance team at Grinnell Regional Medical Center. He is a resident of Grinnell and an active member in the Grinnell community.  Zach spoke to the Grinnell Rotary Club to give a hospital update and discuss some of the exciting new developments that are occurring in partnership with UnityPoint Health. He shared that the hospital has completed the planting of the giving gardens located throughout the community.   Wellness Director Chad Nath, helped prepare and plant the gardens, which are open to all and help to provide fresh produce to residents, as well as local food pantries. Weiderspon also mentioned that the hospital recently held a community open forum to discuss the opioid abuse epidemic that is impacting the U.S.  The open forum was put on in conjunction with several community and regional stakeholders including local law enforcement, fire department, substance abuse counselors, assisted living and nursing homes, and other community stakeholders. The stakeholders were able to discuss preventions and interventions for limiting opioid abuse throughout the community.   Zach discussed some exciting new developments at the hospital through its partnership with UnityPoint Health. The hospital will be adding and expanding several specialties including Cardiology, Orthopedics, Dermatology, and Ear Nose and Throat. Beginning in June, the hospital is planning six more days/month of cardiology services. In late July/early August, the hospital will be welcoming two orthopedic providers that will offer a full range of orthopedic services.  The hospital is looking at adding an additional day/month of dermatology services to help meet the community’s need. Finally, the hospital is excited to welcome and expand ear nose and throat services as a new full-time ENT provider will be joining Surgical Associates, LLP in July. Zach closed by saying that there are a lot of exciting things happening at UnityPoint Health – Grinnell Regional Medical Center that will help improve and expand access to care locally.

    Rotary meets every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. at West Side Family Restaurant.


It all began in 1995 with the first Shults & Co. show.  It was a perfect time to launch a collaborative effort. Frank Shults was president of the Grinnell Rotary Club.  He and wife Sherry had a love for music that they had already been sharing with the community through various programs.  Frank presented the idea to Rotary – let’s have a fundraiser. He and Sherry will create a musical show and through ticket sales and ads sold by Rotarians for the program, they could raise funds for various community causes.

Twelve shows later this collaborative effort reached a milestone.  This year’s musical revue, “As Time Goes By and Other Great Movie Songs,” presented in April, raised a net of $11,500. This sum was augmented with a Community Service Grant of $1,500 from Rotary District 6000.  Adding these to past proceeds of $87,000, the long-standing collaboration of Shults & Co. and Grinnell Rotary has raised a total of $100,000 that have been donated to various local organizations through the years.

This milestone was celebrated at Rotary’s weekly meeting on Tues., May 15, at West Side Dining with a presentation of this year’s net proceeds to UnityPoint Health-Grinnell Regional Medical Center Paul W. Ahrens Fitness Center, represented by its director of wellness/fitness and integrated health,  Chad Nath. The occasion was marked as well with the presence of members of Shults & Co.

Members of Shults & Co. celebrated reaching $100,000 fund-raising milestone. (From left) seated : Rick Young; Anthony Nieuwsma; Debby Pohlson; Sherry Shults, and  Gailanne Dill; standing: Bill Hammen; Austin Jones; Keith Briggs; Chad Nath of UPH-GRMC; George Drake; Tim Dill, and Frank Shults. (Not present: JoAnn Britton; Mary Fopma; Kent Kastendick; and Adam McFee)


Shults, in his remarks, noted that past beneficiaries have been Drake Community Library; GRMC’s Medical Lab and Chemo Unit; the music department and middle school music lab of the Grinnell-Newburg School District; Grinnell Area Arts Council; Grinnell Recreation Dept.; Grinnell Senior Center; and the former Grinnell Productions.  He likewise thanked Effie Hall, current Grinnell Rotary Club president, Bruce Blankenfeld, chair of the ad sales committee, and the many Rotarians who sold ads and provided vital behind-the-scene support.

        The rest of the meeting featured guest speaker Marilyn Kennett, director of Drake Community Library.  She gave an update on what is happening at the library. Kennett stated that the library has been in its current location for nine years.    A new sign, designed by Ryan McGuire, and built by ASI Sign Systems, Inc., is now placed outside of the entrance to the library. Kennett said that there are approximately 7000 visits to the library monthly, tracked by a laser counter.  The library recently added the capability of tracking usage of its wireless Internet service. One unusual service provided recently was to give out eclipse glasses to enable visitors to view safely the August 2017 solar eclipse.

Other services provided are online research tools, a database of local obituaries, and a wide variety of programming.  Additional services are E-books, print materials, assistance in using public internet stations, and a Code Club for students in 3rd through 8th grades.  The services listed do not include the standard services, which many visitors still stop at the library to use.  

Coming to Drake Community Library in the near future is Michelle Gutlove, an artist from Massachusetts, who will construct artwork that will be suspended from the ceiling in the center of the library.



The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Dining. - Dennis Conway.



Club Executives & Directors
President Elect
Rotary Foundation and Director
Membership Chair
Public Image Vice-Chair
Public Image chair
Service to Youth Vice-chair
Immediate Past President