Visit Our Club
We meet In Person
Tuesdays at 12:00 p.m.
Indian Creek Country Club
2401 Indian Creek Road
Marion, IA 52302
United States of America
Please R.S.V.P. to Cindy if you plan to join us for lunch.
Jaye Kennedy & J'nae Peterman
Jun 04, 2024
Carol Meier - National Sales Rep
Jun 18, 2024
Second Story Promotions
No Tuesday Meeting
Jun 25, 2024
Due to End of Year Celebration
Community Events and Information

Welcome to Marion-East Cedar Rapids Rotary

Our speakers this week will be Heather Croskrey, Director of Development, and Dina Haveric, ReLeaf Outreach and Communications Manager.
Heather is originally from O’Fallon, Illinois, but has called Iowa home since 2000. She has earned Master's degrees from Southern Illinois University and the University of Iowa studying cultural and organizational communication and conversation analysis. Prior to joining Trees Forever, Heather spent over eight years in development for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Her career, spanning over 20 years, has included work with enrollment management, air service development, and marketing. Heather loves new adventures to keep learning, growing, and meeting new people. She spends her down time being an active mom to two teenagers, two grown children, and two grandchildren.
Dina graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources & Environmental Science and a minor in Environmental & Ecological Engineering. She recently completed an AmeriCorps service with Green Iowa AmeriCorps Land and Water Stewards. In her free time, she enjoys foraging for mushrooms, spending time with her dog, and trying new recipes.
We hope you can join us at noon on Tuesday at the Indian Creek Country Club, to hear what Heather and Dina have to say!
Please RSVP to Cindy by 9:00 AM Monday.  Here is an email link.
Make a Difference! Donate Blood this month for the Rotary Donation Challenge May 20 – June 1!
Kick off summer with a lifesaving act! Get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing you’ve made a difference. Join us for our Memorial Day Donation Challenge and be a beacon of hope for those in need. Let’s get the summer vibes going with service to our community.
Book your appointment now to be a part of something life-changing! 
United in Giving 🩸
Donate Blood, Be the Difference!
Give & choose a $20 gift cardbonus points to shop our store for our NEW tie-dye t-shirt & more, OR a charitable donation to the Best Friends Animal Society.
Cedar Rapids Rotary Donation Challenge
May 20 – June 1 (Two Weeks!)
Cedar Rapids Donor Centers
Cedar Rapids Lindale  (4828 1st Ave NE)
Cedar Rapids West   (3001 Williams Blvd SW)
Please mention that you are donating for the “Rotary Blood Drive Challenge” (code 2719).
Click on the location above where you want to schedule your donation or call (800) 747-5401. To find another location that works for you, click here
Remember to eat and hydrate well before donating!
Registration is now open - register here!
Full Registration with golf - $175
Full Registration - non-golf - $125
Saturday only registration - $100
Hotel information:
Sisters Inn
Americinn by Wyndham
GrandStay Hotel & Suits
Brookstone Lodge & Suites
When the sirens sounds be reminded it is time for "Siren Wednesday on Thursday." We will meet again on Thursday, June 6 at Napoli's Italian Restaurant, 500 Marion Blvd in Marion for "Siren Wednesday on Thursday" beginning around 5:00 PM. This is a different location than in the past. The Edison has been very good to us over the years however we thought we would add more variety to our location but will include The Edison in a four restaurant rotation. It would be helpful if you could RSVP using this link if you can attend or letting me know. Keep an eye on this location so you can join us where we gather for conversation, beverage and if you would like, dinner. This is an informal get-together to relax. We're usually finished by 7:00 unless the conversation is too engaging. We also encourage you to include any friends and family so bring them along.
Erik Miles
Profile photo of Matt Linn
From LinkedIn..........
Eternal Fan® understands that FANS are essential to sports. Without the FANS we would have empty venues, and the sporting world would cease to exist. Fans love their teams, players and venues to great lengths. The love of sports binds FANS together and makes us who we are. Even beyond the team itself, Fans have a deep emotional connection with the venue, where they have enjoyed the achievements of their team.

Eternal Fan helps ensure that every fan has the chance to be remembered at a place that has provided them such cherished, happy memories. What if a loyal, lifelong fan can have the opportunity to continue with the team and friends beyond their lifetime? What if they could be eternally part of a special fan area? This is much more than a name on a wall. Rather this is a complete memorial experience, where families and friends gather to share memories and build on the tradition for generations to come. Eternal Fan® is the building of a true legacy that touches the hearts of the most passionate fans and creates a unique opportunity to celebrate the FAN.

Eternal Fan advises and consults with venues and teams to create this memorial experience, primarily by advising on how venues and teams can take advantage of self-storage facilities for keepsakes and other memorials items for fans. Eternal Fan is the unseen partner that works with the sports brand to provide fans this experience and the brand with a substantial revenue stream for years to come. Eternal Fan brings a suite of services which can be customized for a unique fan experience with every sports brand and venue. Each one is a blank canvas to be custom tailored for the team and venue. The pricing, design and revenue opportunities are determined by the team or venue with our consulting and industry experience.

For the 2nd year in a row the Waffle Breakfast was held at Indian Creek Country Club.  On Saturday, April 29, we hosted the community, provided hospitality and support, and Dad's Waffles provided the waffles. This all-hands-on deck project had fantastic participation from our Club members, and we experienced a great turnout from the community.  Here are some pictures:
From the Cedar Rapids Gazette.........

 If you’re putting in a swimming pool in your backyard, why not make it like a resort?

That’s the motivation behind the work that Rick Whiteaker does with Agile Aquatic, a Cedar Rapids-based business owned by his wife, Amy Belice.

The custom pool company helps homeowners create healthy, safe swimming pools that can become an outdoor oasis.

“It's just like another area of your home, like your living room or your kitchen, and you can design those kinds of elements in an outdoor space,” said Whiteaker, the company’s “relationship manager.”

Whiteaker grew up working in a family pool business and then spent time in the construction industry. With his new venture, he combines his decades of experience and knowledge with the latest technologies for private pools.

Agile Aquatic offers pool consultation, design and construction services in Eastern and central Iowa.

“We work hands-on and collaboratively with general contractors and industry experts both locally and from out of state to bring a pool project to completion,” Whiteaker said. “We take time to get the design and engineering done properly.”


On April 30th, our Club hosted students, parents, and Marion City and school district officials to recognize students who have worked to create a safe and drug free school environment at Linn-Mar, Marion Independent, and St. Joseph schools. Marion-East Cedar Rapids Rotary has represented the community in honoring some very accomplished and busy students for 32 years. Pictured is the 2024 class honored.
Profile photo of Philip Wasta
From LinkedIn...........
Phil is an energetic business leader with 30 years experience leading and managing a locally owned small business with impact on and responsibility for all aspects of the business performance. Subsequently, he became leader of Cedar Rapids' second Self-Sustaining Municipal Improvement District. Additionally, he has built relationships broadly within the community through volunteer involvement on local boards, commissions and committees, focusing on improving the community and the quality of life for all residents. Phil is known for employing collaboration and team building to develop and implement effective solutions, building consensus to deliver desired outcomes, and facilitating the connection of effective resources and networks.
The MedQuarter Regional Medical District is a Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement District (SSMID) representing 55 square blocks of downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa dedicated to the improvement and promotion of the medical providers and businesses within the District.  As Executive Director, Phil is responsible for all aspects of implementation of the Medical SSMID Commission's strategies and initiatives including marketing, economic development, infrastructure improvement, etc.
Phil provided us with a MedQuarter update and shared future MedQuarter plans.  We learned that the 4 Guiding Principles of MedQuarter include:
  • Deliver a Superior Visitor Experience
  • Improve the Quality of MedQuarter Healthcare Opportunities
  • Actively Promote Economic Development
  • Contribute to the Growth of Cedar Rapids

February 23, 2024

The Linn County Board of Supervisors has awarded $80,000 in grants from the Linn County Board of Supervisors Witwer Trust Fund to 19 nonprofit organizations whose work benefits Linn County residents, including $1,000 to the Marion-East Cedar Rapids Rotary Club for Shoes for Kids. The recipients were selected through an annual competitive grant process that began in November. The Board of Supervisors received more than $500,000 in grant requests with $80,000 in available funds. 

The Witwer Trust was established by Weaver Witwer, a prominent Cedar Rapids grocer and landowner who died in 1979. Mr. Witwer owned and operated a food processing plant, a number of local farms, and what became known as the Me Too grocery stores. 

The Witwer Trust grant cycle begins Nov. 1 of each year. For more information about the Witwer Trust grant program, visit  

Thanks to the Marion Sun for this story.

uptown street
Community Playmaker, a media platform designed to provide news, features, and trends that highlight American communities and civic leaders, names the city of Marion, Iowa as their Community of the Year for 2023. The city of 41,864 residents beat out nearly 100 small, midsize, and large communities that entered the nationwide contest to earn this honor.

The Community of the Year Award is a celebration of cities and the visionary leaders that spark progress. It’s about innovative programs and initiatives that drive economic development, promote community engagement, provide places for residents to work and play, support public safety, amplify the arts and culture, and build open, inclusive, high-quality environments for all citizens.

Communities from around the country submitted entries for the Community of the Year Award. The size of communities ranged from towns with a little more than 1,000 residents to some of America’s largest and most well-known cities, and everything in between.

A panel of experts reviewed each entry with several criteria in mind, including the scope of the “quality-of-life” projects that were launched and the impact of each project, among other items. While we received many tremendous and inspiring entries, one stood above the rest.

“Marion is a great example of what can happen when a community, both its leaders and citizens, cast a vision for a tremendous quality of life for everyone. And the power is not just in the vision, it’s also in the determination Marion leaders showed driving these projects through to completion,” said Ashley Whittaker, editor-in-chief of Community Playmaker. “Through initiatives as diverse as their partnership to build a state-of-the-art YMCA to converting unused alleyways into accessible arts and entertainment space, we are inspired by the work they’ve done and continue to do.”

In 2007, city and business leaders in Marion embarked on a bold path toward enhancing their city. It started with polling residents for their thoughts on how to make Marion a better place. Their responses and conversations in community brainstorming sessions helped civic leaders develop a list of projects that met the needs of the community.

Once ideas were further refined, funding and partnerships were sought for a variety of projects that shape Marion today. These include:

  • A new 75,000-square-foot recreation facility in partnership with the YMCA
  • Uptown Artway- an unused, dumpster-filled back alleyway that was converted into a concert and art venue
  • A state-of-the-art library, which includes a recording studio, teen area, art studio, demonstration kitchen, quilting machine, and 3D printer.

“It is a great honor for our city to be named, ‘Community of the Year,’” said Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly. “We are grateful for the recognition as it places Marion on a national stage and endorses our focus on serving residents and giving them the best opportunities for an unequaled quality of life. Marion’s success is hard-earned by an energized team that works together and engages the entire community in moving the city forward.”

Check out our January edition of Community Playmaker to learn more about Marion’s incredible story. 

Kesha Billings, senior planner with the City of Marion’s Community Development Department, was honored for her service to the community during Waypoint’s 42nd annual Tribute to Women of Achievement event. The award was presented on Dec. 5, 2023, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Cedar Rapids.

For the last 16 years, Kesha Billings has been a member of Marion’s Planning Division. She has been involved in the community’s long-range planning, navigated complex annexation processes and spearheaded the development of the City’s trail network.

A grant writer and highly skilled at securing local, state and federal funding, Kesha has received commitments of more than $15 million to support trail development in Marion over the course of her career, according to the City of Marion.

“It is part of our culture to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of our team members,” said Marion City Manager Ryan Waller. “Kesha is passionate about our community, committed to making positive change both personally and professionally.”

Billings obtained her Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University in Community and Regional Planning in 2005. She has been a certified planner through the American Planning Association (American Institute of Certified Planners, AICP) since 2010 and she obtained her master’s degree in public administration from Upper Iowa University in 2015.

She is an avid supporter of the Linn County Trails Association, a Tree Keeper with Trees Forever and an active member of the Marion East Cedar Rapids Rotary Club since 2016. Billings and her husband Darin have been married for more than 10 years and are the proud parents of three energetic boys, ages 6, 4 and 18 months. She loves the outdoors, especially biking, hiking and gardening.

Thanks to the City of Marion and the Marion Sun for this information.

Vanessa Christenson
From Vanessa's Linked-In page.....
I am a wife, mom, life coach, and fabric designer who likes to quilt, sew, decorate, and run my mouth. I began my fabric design and quilting pattern company, V & Co., back in 2007, while my husband was deployed. This adventure has been nothing short of amazing, and V & Co. is still a large part of my life.

In addition to being a creative, I am also passionate about empowering others. I have learned so much about myself, my goals, and my own limiting beliefs over the years, that I felt a calling to help others in the same way. In 2021, I received my life coaching certification from The Life Coach School and started my second business - Vanessa Christenson Life Coaching.
Tips and Takeaways from the presentation included:
Humans are looking for 4 things; what drives us:
Excitement, connection, meaningful pursuits, and growth in competence
Most of us lack one or more of these and will look for damaging ways to numb or to create false pleasures (midlife crisis, risky behavior, overspending, overeating, drinking alcohol)
Sydney Rieckhoff - Almost Famous Popcorn Company | LinkedIn
Sydney is the 25-year-old CEO of Almost Famous Popcorn Company, a gourmet popcorn brand she co-founded at 14 years old!
We learned that at the age of 9, Sydney interviewed most of the candidates running for president during the 2008 campaign, as well as pop music sensation Taylor Swift.
More recently, Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst chose Sydney as her guest for the State of the Union.
Established in 2012 as an inaugural stand inside NewBo City Market, Almost Famous Popcorn Company has grown to become a multimillion-dollar enterprise, with retail stores in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids, as well as production facilities in Cedar Rapids and Sac City. Almost Famous last February acquired Noble Popcorn of Sac City.
She graduated from Stanford University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and spent a year and half in Chicago as a software engineer before rejoining the business. 
Based on her life experiences thus far, Sydney shared the following advice with the group:
  • Fearlessness is not a lack of fear.
  • Getting good at failing is a spectacular thing.
  • Asking for help can be your greatest superpower.

Colten Jourdan

A proud native of Cedar Rapids is also where Colten currently resides with his fiancee Meagan and with his two Gold Doodles: Harlow and Maizey.  Colten has a Business Administration Degree from Mount Mercy University and an Associate's Degree in Horticulture from Iowa Central Community College. Colten played baseball at both Mount Mercy and ICCC when he attended those schools. Along with those accolades he also has an Associates Degree in Business Management from DMACC. 

Colten likes to lift weights and play baseball, softball, basketball & golf.  Colten also likes to watch Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bulls, Kansas City Chiefs, and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Joseph LeValley
From the Des Moines Register......
Joe LeValley, author of five Iowa-based mystery novels in four years, didn’t set out to write books, but that’s what he’s been doing since retiring in 2018 from a 30-year career as an executive at Iowa’s Mercy Medical Center hospitals.

LeValley’s books are set in the fictional town of Orney, Iowa, and follow the personal and professional life of Tony Harrington, a reporter for the local newspaper, The Town Crier.


Joseph LeValley describes his life as filled with "outrageous good fortune." He is the author of four award-winning mysteries/thrillers. Prior to becoming an author, Joe was a reporter–photographer for daily newspapers for seven years. Subsequently, he served for more than 30 years as a healthcare executive. During that time, he and his team won four national awards for communications excellence.

Also a musician and composer, Joe plays drums and guitar. In 2016, he was inducted with the Mourning Glory Rock Band into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. A lifelong Iowan, Joe has a degree in journalism from Drake University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa. He and his wife Jane have six children and live in Dallas County Iowa.

From the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

Most people who know Buzzy Castonguay know he knows a lot about background checks.

Castonguay has worked in the industry since 2002 after a friend introduced him to the work.

'I was coming out of working in church ministry, when a friend asked me to come work with him doing background checks,” he said. 'I didn't plan on doing this very long, but it stuck.”

Having been as a Los Angeles County probation officer back in the 1990s, Castonguay worked with his friend for a while before starting his own background-check company when he moved to Iowa in the early 2000s.

After selling that first background check company, he got out of the business for a few years.

'But people always asked me about it, and when someone finally asked if I'd ever consider getting back in the business, I did,” he recalled.

In 2014, he opened C4 Operations.

'Our advantage is that we have access to a lot more information than the average consumer can access by simply visiting Iowa Courts online, for example,” Castonguay said, noting that they access national records.

C4 has a wide variety of pre-employment and tenant screenings - including sexual offender searches, identity verification, credit reports, county criminal searches, federal court searches, motor vehicle records and drug screenings - for companies and property owners.

'We are big on educating our customers on the information they do or do not need in a background check and help them understand what the reports we provide mean,” he said.

The C4 Operations staff - which includes about 10 employees - works with both large and small businesses across a wide range of industries, from janitorial and manufacturing to education and health care. Castonguay said they have some 3,200 customers nationwide.

'We are helping our customers make a good hire or find a good renter and perhaps avoid some problems down the road. We can help reduce the amounts of headaches in their life,” Castonguay said.

'We don't tell our clients who to hire. We just get the records and the information they need to make a good hiring decision.”

Carole Bernhard came to Bancroft, her husband’s hometown, after he retired from the Air Force. She attended Rotary, found the precepts resonated with her, and decided to join. She became the Club President a year after joining. In her years in Rotary, she has been an Assistant District Governor, attended an international convention in New Orleans, and now is the District Governor.
Thanks for being our speaker, Carole!
From (Published: Jun. 6, 2022).............

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Since 2015, Tyler Sullivan has tried to visit all 99 counties in Iowa. He’s made it to 92.

“I love finding that little hidden gem in every single town in Iowa,” said Sullivan.

A long distance relationship where Sullivan was driving from Iowa City to Mason City, helped spark this idea.

“I would travel that way every other Friday after work and I was driving through counties that I’ve never heard of before like Chickasaw and Bremer. I wondered while I was driving up there one day, I was like there has to be something special about all these counties,” he explained.

For the past four years, he’s decided to run at least a mile in each city on the Iowa road map. He has roughly 130 towns to go. When he visits, he likes to go to museums, diners, or even run in a local road race. His adventures he have made for great stories.

“I remember going to a post office and taking picture of a mural. I take a picture and a guy looked back and goes, ‘I go here every single day and never noticed that mural. Where are you from?’ I told him about my story. He’s like, ‘how’d you know that was there?’”

His goal is to write a poem about each county. Sullivan has self-published two books and has been a poet for 13 years. He hopes that through his experiences, others can appreciate what Iowa has to offer and consider taking their own tour through the Hawkeye State.

“It just feels like life continues to move on really fast, and you just have to enjoy life. That’s why I’m enjoying Iowa. I love seeing people, talking to people, and I just try to inspire people to see more of it,” said Sullivan.

The national issue of criminalizing our mentally ill - ABC News
From LinkedIn......
Tony is an experienced law enforcement administrator with a demonstrated history of working in law enforcement and in the higher education industry. Skilled in Public Administration, Budgeting, Project Management, Public Safety, Physical Security, Emergency Management, and Law Enforcement. Strong education professional with a Master of Science (MS) degree, focused in Criminal Justice/ Public Administration.
His book continues to gain recognition and momentum, now recognized as a #1 Hot New Release on Amazon, and now available in most book stores and retail store outlets.
Sheriff Tony Thompson is sharing insights on his 30 years in law enforcement. Only this book is strictly on mental illness. It’s called “Anyplace But Here: The Uncomfortable Convergence Between Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System.”

“This is a problem we can’t arrest our way out of,” he told TV9. “How broken the system really is, how dysfunctional the system really is and how challenged we are every single day with mental health care delivery.”

Club Executives & Directors
President Elect
Rotary Foundation
Immediate Past President