Rotary Club of West Polk County
 
 
 
 
 
 
                       Noon Monday Meetings
 
 
 

Club Information

Welcome to our Club!

West Polk County

Service to our Community!

We meet Mondays at 12:00 PM
Toyota of Des Moines
1650 SE 37th Street
Grimes, IA  50111
United States
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What's Going On
 
The Presidency of the Rotary Club of West Polk County was officially passed from 2016/17 President Mark Watson (RTL Equipment, Inc.) to 2017/18 President Ben Chamber (Middendorf Insurance Associates, Inc.) at the regular meeting, held on July 17th, 2017 at Toyota of Des Moines

Mark's leadership was tremendous and we thank him for his investment of time and expertise.  We look forward, and have every reason to believe, that the Club will continue to improve under Ben's direction.  #ServiceAboveSelf
 
The members of the Rotary Club of West Polk County had the awesome opportunity to serve some of the kids attending programming at Freedom for Youth in Des Moines.  We served around 40 children and the menu included fresh fruit, walking tacos, and orange Tang.  It was a fantastic opportunity to have a great time while also doing something good for a very worthy organization.
 
You can learn more about freedom for youth by visiting their website at https://www.freedomforyouth.org/.
 
Mary Anne Sims was the guest speaker at the regular meeting of the Rotary Club of West Polk County.   Mary Anne is the Executive Director at City Voices, a non-profit organization she founded to serve a need in Des Moines. 
 
The organization provides voice lessons, free of charge, to secondary students who have talent and interest but no financial means to study privately.  Moreso in the Des Moines Public Schools than some of the suburbs, kids to not have as much access to these types of services, which puts them at a disadvantage when they do have the opportunity to compete.
 
The organization is growing fast.  It was founded by Sims in 2013.  She came up with the idea while taking classes at The Ohio State University, when one of her class assignments was to create a non-profit that would “do some good”.  As a longtime vocal music instructor at Des Moines Roosevelt High School, she had some inspiration and insight into this particular need in the community.
 
Mary Anne was joined by a former student whom she had the opportunity to mentor.  Napoleon Douglas was a former student of hers, whom she immediately recognized as being very talented.  With some assistance and hard work, Napoleon earned a scholarship to attend Drake University, where he earned a degree in theater. 
 
The members of West Polk County Rotary were treated to a great performance from Sims and Douglas.  We would like to thank them for presenting at the meeting and encourage all to support the wonderful cause of City Voices in the future.  Learn more about the organization by visiting their website at https://cityvoicesdesmoines.org/.
 
Thank you to Rotarian Michael K. Thibodeau, Attorney at Simpson, Jensen, Abels, Fischer & Bouslog, P.C. for inviting Mary Anne Sims to present. 
 
The members of the Rotary Club of West Polk County had the great fortune to tour an amazing, relatively new, facility in Johnston, Iowa, which now serves at the headquarters for Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa.
 
The space was formerly operated as American Furniture, which closed in 2015.  The space has been completely remodeled and now serves as corporate offices, a training center, a donation center, a product sorting facility, and a commercial outlet store for Goodwill. 
 
We would like to thank Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa for allowing us to visit this wonderful facility and for the wonderful service you provide to our region.  Learn more about this organization by visiting their website at http://www.dmgoodwill.org/.
 
Melissa Clarke-Wharff is the Founder and President of Courage League Sports, which is located in Urbandale, Iowa.  The organization is an adaptive recreational facility for kids and adults with special needs.  Their motto is a simple one… “Everybody Deserves to Play”.   Who can argue with that?  But for the people Courage League Sports serves, it isn’t always that easy. 
 
Due to physical, cognitive, and sometimes emotional challenges, the clientele of Courage League Sports doesn’t always fit into the traditional norms that society provides for involvement in physical activity.  Therefore, they offer a wide range of adaptive fitness, music/motion, and sports programs.  The ability to participate in the activities they provide offers physical benefits, but emotional benefits too. 
 
Courage League Sports has seen tremendous growth since they began in 2012.  They’ve done so, like many successful businesses and organizations, with a lot of hard work.  But Melissa would quickly point out that they have also been successful due to a tremendous amount of volunteer support and some wonderful strategic partnerships.  Courage Leagues Sports has worked with local schools, Special Olympics of Iowa, and Miracle League, just to name a few. 
 
While they have seen much progress, they know that there is still more that needs to be done; people who remain under served in the community.  They are always looking for more good volunteers to assist their cause and even have some internship opportunities available for qualified individuals in the coming year.
 
The Rotary Club of West Polk County is grateful to Melissa for attending our meeting and sharing the latest information on her organization.  She was invited by Rotarian Mike Bonnett of R&R Realty (pictured above).  If you would like to learn more about Courage League Sports, please visit their website at www.courageleaguesports.com.  

 

Megan Kassmeier, Volunteer and Resource Manager at Freedom for Youth Ministries in Des Moines, Iowa shared a story.  The story was of how one man's vision has turned into a growing non-profit initiative to help children in their community.   That man was Mark Nelson, the founder and CEO of the organization.  He had the opportunity to help a young lady in need and did.  The girl was in a tough spot in life; drugs, homelessness, unemployed, etc.   Mark showed her compassion and gave her a hand up...and it worked.  That young lady is now a woman who has a job and a family and a relationship with Christ.  Mark thought, if it worked with one person, why not help more.  And thus the idea for Freedom for Youth Ministries was born. 

 

The organization was officially founded in 2003.  Now, 14 years later is has multiple locations and is about to open the largest coffee shop in the Des Moines metro.  This new facility will employ youth from the surrounding area, teaching them important skills so that they can be more prepared to enter the workforce later in life. 

 

Kassmeier shared that what started out as one man with a dream has now grown into an organization that, chooses not to incur debt, but due to the generosity of those in the community, and the hard work of around 340 volunteers remains successful.  Learn more about Freedom for Youth at their website: www.FreedomForYouth.org

 

The meeting was Chaired by Ben Chamber (Middendorf Insurance) and our speaker was invited by Dave Applegate (Fellowship of Christian Athletes).   We would like to publicly thank Megan for her time and presentation.

 
A handful of members had the opportunity to serve a meal to about 35 children at Freedom for Youth on January 23rd, 2017.  Freedom for Youth is an organization that the club has been involved with for years and enjoys the opportunity to provide service when called upon.  Learn more about Freedom for Youth at their website, which can be found HERE.
 
(Rotarians Pictured Above, L to R:  Brian Buethe, Kevin Smith, Jeff Holladay, Luke Vogel and Ben Chambers.)
 
Mindi Heitland of the Waukee, Iowa Community School District was on hand at the regular meeting of the Rotary Club of West Polk County.  She is one of two coordinators that oversees the Waukee High School's "School to Work" program.  The program, originally established in 1997, provides for opportunities for students to intern a local businesses in a variety of fields.  The program is so popular, that only about half of the students who apply are placed. 
 
The program intends to give students first hand experience in a career field in which they have an interest.  They are then able to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and transferable skills.  Furthermore, the program often helps them build self confidence during and after their participation. 
 
We would like to publicly thank Mindi for presentation to the meeting attendees and wish her and the students she serves the best in the continued administration of a wonderful program.  If you would like to learn more about the Waukee School to Work program we encourage you to visit a page dedicated to that initiative, which can be found HERE.
Pictured above:  Stephen Quirk and David Applegate.
 
Stephen Quirk, Chief Executive Officer of Youth Emergency Services & Shelter was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of West Polk County on Monday, October 31st.  He was a guest of Rotarian David Applegate.
 
The Rotary Club of West Polk County has had a relationship with YESS for several years.  Mr. Quirk has presented to the membership on several occasions.  Although everyone wishes that the report was all positive, the fact of the matter is that YESS knows otherwise.  Stephen shared some of the problems they see on a day to day basis and they aren't pretty.  They deal with children, newborns to seventeen years of age, who have experienced physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, drug use, emotional abuse and all other kinds of trauma.  Often times, these children are the victims of members of their own families.
 
The organization was started in 1973 and since that time, the community has grown.  While many of these problems are not new to central Iowa, because the region is growing, the number of kids impacted is also growing.  Much information was shared.  It was an enlightening presentation, educational, and to be honest, a bit depressing.  Rotarians are in the business of making our communities better.  We strive to identify and tackle problems.  For that reason, we will keep our eye on the ball and continue our relationship with YESS.  Through service, we will do our part to have a positive impact on an organization that helps so many children in dire need of assistance.
 
We would like to publicly thank Stephen Quirk, his staff, the many volunteers, and those who give generously to ensure that YESS can continue their important work.
 
The Rotary Club of West Polk County was joined by guest speakers Roger Curnow and Jan Herke (City of Urbandale), who shared the vision of the planned Urbandale Miracle League Field and all-inclusive playground.  This field, is currently under construction at Northview Park in Urbandale.
 
Around 22,000 kids in the area are considered eligible to use the Miracle Field, which is why having multiple locations in the metro is desired.  Miracle League fields already exist in downtown Des Moines and in Ankeny.  Volunteers have been working diligently on this project for nearly three years and some of the fruits of their labor can be seen today, as the field is under construction.  That being said, they still have about a $500,000 shortfall in funding, which is necessary to complete the project in its entirety.  While this is not technically a City project, both the City of Urbandale and the Polk County Board of Supervisors has donated $75,000 each to the project to date.
 
In addition to funds, it was indicated that there are many opportunities for people to volunteer their time once the project is completed.  They can be "volunteer buddys" for the kids who use the facility.  The goal is to raise the remaining funds and finish the project in the next couple of years.
 
The Rotary Club of West Polk County would like to thank both Roger and Jan for their enlightening presentation.  Learn more about the project, sign up to volunteer, or make a donation by visiting http://urbandalemiracleleaguefield.com/.
The Rotary of West Polk County had the great pleasure of having the Head Coach for Drake Women's Basketball, Jennie Baranczyk, address them and their guests on Monday, September 26th, 2016.  Coach Baranczyk is only the sixth person to hold the title and has been in the position since April 2012.
 
 
Coach Baranczyk is proud of what she, the assistant coaches, and the players have accomplished during her time at the University.  She gave a number of examples of early challenges she faced as a new head coach, but she knew early on that she wanted the team to be good at three things: up tempo style, communication, and rebounding.  As of last year, the team was ninth in the nation in scoring and 15th in the nation in rebounding.  And while they have obviously had success, Coach Baranczyk knows that they must continue to strive for more.  She acknowledges that her job is to make players exceed expectations.
 
Success on the basketball court is an obvious goal, but to truly build a great program, the Drake culture calls for much more than that.  They want to not only talk the talk and walk the walk as it relates to basketball but in all areas of life including classes and in the Des Moines community.  Therefore, to play basketball at Drake, recruits have to have (in addition to talent) three things.  They have to first love the game of basketball.  They have to love to compete.  And finally, they have to love Drake and all that it stands for. 
 
The presentation wrapped up with questions from the audience, all of which were graciously answered by Coach Baranczyk.  It was an informative and engaging presentation, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all in attendance.
 
David Applegate served as Sergeant of Arms, President Mark Watson presided, and there were many guest attendees at the meeting.  A moment of silence was held for one of the founding members of the Rotary Club of West Polk County, Gene Gabus, who passed away after a battle with cancer the prior week.  
 
 
 
A handful of members, along with their spouses, gathered at Wildwood Hills Ranch of Iowa (rural St. Charles) to celebrate another wonderful year of camaraderie and accomplishments for the Rotary Club of West Polk County.  The dinner marked a passing of the torch as 2015/16 President Jeff Holladay's (U.S. Bank) tenure comes to an end and 2016/17 President Mark Watson (RTL Equipment) will assume the reigns. 
 
By all accounts the evening was relaxing and fun.  We would like to publicly thank Al Lorenzen, CEO at Wildwood Hills Ranch, not only for hosting this important event, but for all of the work that he and his staff do on a regular basis.   Wildwood Hills Ranch exists to transform lives and strengthen communities by providing healing, hope, and God’s unconditional love to children and youth at risk.   This is a mission that the Rotary Club of West Polk County can and does support wholeheartedly. 
 
Thank you to all of the members who made this past year great.  We look forward to the year to come!
The Rotary Club of West Polk County had the pleasure of hearing an informative and emotional presentation about another wonderful central Iowa organization.  DeLayne Hebert presented on the subject of Wildwood Hills Ranch of Iowa; a 400 acre non-profit facility, set in the scenic hills of Madison County, just south of Des Moines.
 
Established in 2001, the facility exists to transform lives and strengthen communities by providing healing, hope, and God’s unconditional love to children and at-risk youth.  At one point in her life, DeLayne was one of those “at risk” youth.  She was steered to the ranch and it has been a life changing experience for her, which is why now, although she is just about to be a college graduate, she feels compelled to give back by volunteering and helping to spread the wonderful story.
 
The facility, while wonderful today, has many future plans for improvement.  In fact, they have a three phase plan to add additional improvements such as the addition of a short term residential program, development of long term residential facilities for high risk children and teens, as well as many facility additions and enhancements.
 
The Rotary Club of West Polk County is grateful for Ms. Hebert’s presentation, we are fans of the mission and work of the ranch, and we encourage you to learn more about this tremendous organization by visiting their website at www.wildwoodhillsranch.org.    
 

 

At the March 28th, 2016 meeting of the Rotary Club of West Polk County, Dr. June Johnson and Daphne Dickens of the American Diabetes Association educated those in attendance about their organization and the disease they want to see eliminated.

Information was shared that suggests statistically, Type I and Type II Diabetes is a growing issue in our nation and our state.  Rising obesity rates fuel the issue and there is misinformation about how to deal with the growing problem.  The American Diabetes Association addresses the issue in many ways.  Two that stood out include their efforts in advocacy and education.  Through these efforts they hope to inform policy makers so that efforts made at the government level are effective.  They also hope to better educate the general public, the healthcare industry, and other impacted by the disease in order to increase awareness.  These efforts, along with support for ongoing research and development, can help mitigate the onset and impact of diabetes in the future.

Thre are several ways to get involved in the efforts here locally.  One of the well known fundraising/awareness events the local chapter organizes in the annual Tour de Cure, which is a bike ride that raises funds to assist in the cause.  In addition to the Tour de Cure, they are also organizing Brewery Bike Rides, activities that are popular and fun, but still raise awareness and much needed funds for the cause.

The Rotary Club of West Polk Count thank Dr. Johnson and Ms. Dickens for their informative presentation.  Learn more about their work at www.diabetes.org
 
Rotarian Jennifer Gordon Served as the Sergeant of Arms at the regular meeting of the Rotary Club of West Polk County on Monday, February 15.  Jennifer was also charged with inviting a guest speaker for the meeting; a task she met with flying colors.  Jennifer invited Chris Eckles, Volunteer Manager at Blank Park Zoo.  (Chris Eckles and Jennifer Gordon are pictures above/left to right.
 
Chris shared a lot of information about Blank Park Zoo with those in attendance, including updates on planned improvement projects to the facility.  First, it is important to point out that Blank Park Zoo is the only accredited zoo in Iowa.  This is important, because this accreditation ensures that the animals that they accept are of high quality, because they are often a significant investment.  It also is an indicator of the quality environment that must be maintained at the facility in order to reach an accreditation.  Blank Park Zoo is recognized for being a very well run facility.
 
Blank Park Zoo is a private non-profit organization.  They had over 424,000 visitors in 2015; people who had the access to around 1,000 varieties of animals, birds, fish, reptiles, etc.   This year, the zoo will begin construction of what they are calling the Africa Barn, which will house the very popular giraffe population.  
 
Volunteer opportunities are many at the zoo and, in fact, they rely heavily on volunteer support and donations for their many activities and initiatives to tak place.  You can learn more about the many activities put together by Blank Park Zoo and even learn how to get involved by visiting their website at www.BlankParkZoo.com.    Thank you to Chris Eckles for sharing her time and helping to educate the members of Rotary about the many great things happening at Blank Park Zoo!
 
Melanie Brown, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was the guest speaker at the February 1st, 2016 meeting of the Rotary Club of West Polk County, which was held at Toyota of Des Moines.  Melanie was invited to present by Rotarian and President of the Rotary Club of West Polk County, Jeff Holladay (U.S. Bank Home Mortgage).
 
We would like to publicly thank Melanie for taking time to come and present to our organization.  Learn more about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by visiting their website at https://www.lls.org/iowa.
 
Pictured above is Jeff Holladay and Melanie Brown.
Kyle Davy, VP of Ticket Sales for the Iowa Energy was the guest presenter at the regular meeting of the Rotary Club of West Polk County on Monday, December 21st.  Kyle was invited by Sergeant of Arms and Rotarian Luke Vogel (CustomOne CFO & Controllers) to talk about the upcoming Polio Plus Night at the Iowa Energy.
 
 
Pictured (left) is Luke Vogel with Kyle Davy.
 
The Iowa Energy is an American professional basketball team based in Des Moines, Iowa. It is an affiliate of the Memphis Grizzlies. They play in the Eastern Conference in the NBA Development League (NBA D-League), a minor league basketball organization owned and run by the National Basketball Association (NBA).
 
Polio Plus Night is a cooperative fundraising event between the Iowa Energy and Des Moines Area Rotary Clubs.  Rotary Club members are challenged to purchase tickets to the game at $16 a piece, half of which will be used toward polio eradication efforts (primarily vaccinations in third world countries).  We are so very close to eradicating this awful disease from our planet, so that future generations do not have fear its devastating effects.
 
The 8th annual Rotary Polio Plus night at the Iowa Energy will be on Saturday, February 6, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena.   As in past years, the tickets will be $16 each with the Iowa Energy donating $8 per ticket back to the club for Polio Eradication.  The Iowa Energy will be playing the Canton Charge with game time set for 7 p.m.
 
Mr. Davy shared a tremendous amount of information about the special event, but even more so about the current state of the Iowa Energy…there is a lot to get excited about with this team!   Here’s a synopsis about a few items that were shared…
 
The Iowa Energy has the most talent this year that they have ever had, due in large part to a restructuring of many of the teams in the D-League.   There are 19 teams in the league this year, the newest of which is the Toronto 905.  They plan to add at least three new teams in 2016, affiliates of Chicago, Brooklyn and Charlotte.
 
Davy believes that within a few years, there will be 30 D-League teams, to match the number of current NBA teams.  The talent level will also continue to increase as the league grows and players are able to see a clear path to the NBA along with the potential with increase salaries.  
 
The Rotary Club of West Polk County would like to thank Kyle Davy for his time and knowledge.  We would also like to encourage any and all to support the Iowa Energy, especially on Polio Plus Night.  Together we can and will win the fight against Polio.
Dr. Jim Blessman was a guest presenter at the regular meeting of the West Polk County Rotary Club on December 14th at the invitation of Rotarian Hannah Inman (KDC Built Home Builders).
 
Dr. Blessman is no stranger to Rotary.  In fact, he himself is a Rotarian and he has partnered with Rotary International in order to assist some of poorer communities in South Africa gain access to clean drinking water for students and staff at their local schools.  
Pictured: Hannah Inman, Dr. Jim Blessman, Sara Aiken
Blessman Ministries was formed in August 2001 by Dr. Jim and Beth Blessman, Blessman Ministries is a non-profit organization that aims to spread the Good Word to the people of Africa through Christian mission trips.  In fact, another Rotary trip is scheduled to take place in January 2016 to the area they are currently working in and you can be a part of it.  If interested, contact the Lee Holmes of the Waukee Rotary Club.
 
Dr. Blessman share many stories that helped meeting attendees better understand the needs of the communities that he and his ministry are serving.  There is extreme poverty, so they focus on basic needs that can help a generation of children have a better education, better health, and hopefully a better future.  How do they accomplish this?  They are guided by the good Lord and helped by many people along the way.
 
Pictured  (L to R): Rotarian Hannah Inman, Dr. Jim Blessman, Sara Aiken.
 
The focus of the ministry has included several things to date, such as helping to get wells dug so that people can have access to clean, safe drinking water, as opposed to drinking from feces polluted ponds and streams.  They have provided shoes and clothing so that people can be cleaner and can build a community sense of pride.  They have helped to form community coalitions in order to get local buy in for how to solve identified problems.

Today, however, they are working to build toilets at area schools, which will create a safer, friendlier environment, and could even save lives.  How can a toilet save a life; in more ways than one.  Some schools have old pit style toilets that first of all have become very unsanitary, which can lead to the spread of sickness and disease.  Some more pointed examples included stories of young children falling through the dilapidated floors of old toilet facilities and drowning.  This is a terrible story that unfortunately is true, and really highlights the need for action.
 
As a result, Blessman Ministries is working with donors to raise funds that will be matched by the South African government , which will allow for new toilet facilities called Enviro Loo to be installed.  Enviro Loo toilet systems provide a safe, practical, necessary solution to a problem no child should have to face.  The initial goal is to get 645 toilets built and in service in the next year or two. 
 
With the continued work of Blessman Ministries and the support of generous and caring people, these problems can be solved.  God willing the conditions will improve with time and the future will continue to improve for these good people. 
Thank you to Dr. Blessman and Sara Aiken (also with Blessman Ministries) for sharing your story with members of the West Polk County Rotary.  To learn more about Blessman Ministries, please visit their website HERE.
 
Members of the Rotary Club of West Polk County had the unique privilege of touring the Des Moines Community Playhouse for their regular meeting on December 7th, 2015.  The meeting was organized by Rotarian Gene Gabus (Gabus Automotive Group) and the meeting was held in an area of the facility that was just recently added thanks to a grant from The Gabus Foundation.
 
The Des Moines Community Playhouse was first established in 1919 at their original location in downtown Des Moines.  They moved to their current site in 1952.  The building was originally constructed in 1934 and was the previous home to a movie theatre.  
 
The Des Moines Community Playhouse is one of the largest and oldest community theaters in the United States.  In a nation with so many community theatres, this is something we can all be very proud to have in our community.
 
Following a kind welcome and an informative presentation by Executive Director John Viars and Managing Director/Director of Development Rod McCullough meeting attendees were given a tour of the facility.  The tour included the Main Stage Theatre, which included a viewing of a custom made car for the production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; two lower level rehearsal areas/classroom, and the Kate Goldman Children’s Theatre.  
 
The Rotarians of the West Polk County Club would like to publicly thank and applaud the staff, volunteers, actors, actresses, members and supporters of this spectacular community asset.  Pictures from this spectacular meeting can be found on the Club’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WestPolkCountyRotary/
 
Learn more about the Des Moines Community Playhouse by visiting their website HERE.
It should come as no surprise that the Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District is growing.  After all, it is located in one of the fastest growing area in Iowa.  With growth, there are both opportunities and challenges; both of which must be addressed in order to guarantee that students receive the best education possible.  
 
Rotarian Scott Gustafson (GIT Insurance) invited Superintendent Scott Grimes of the DC-G School District to come and address the current state of the local school district, as well as what is in store for the future.  The presentation was informative and enlightening.  Projects in a growing district come often.  Just this year, the school completed the construction of a new transportation facility that houses the bus fleet at a new location just southwest of the Dallas Center – Grimes High School complex.  
 
A new elementary school is slated for construction in the new Heritage at Grimes development, adjacent to NE Beaverbrooke Boulevard in northern Grimes.   This project will be built in 2016 and is anticipated to open in Fall 2017.  It is also anticipated that an additional four rooms will be added to the existing Dallas Center Elementary School concurrently.  
 
Superintendent Grimes explained that unlike some business models, the school district must always adapt their systems to ensure that all of their products (the students) are being served effectively.  The District’s stated mission is “Empowering All Students to Take Charge of Their Future”.    
 
The School Board contracts with a consulting firm out of the Kansas City area to help them accurately predict future enrollment numbers, so that they may have the best possible information available when making important, often expensive decision.
 
Grimes’ presentation instilled a sense of confidence among meeting attendees as to the quality and direction of the school district.  
 
Learn more about the Dallas Center – Grimes Community School District by visiting their website HERE.
The members of the Rotary Club of West Polk County had the honor and privilege of serving a group of youngsters a good meal, prior to their evening lesson on Monday, November 24th.  There was more than enough good food (burgers, hot dogs, fruit, drinks, chips, and a variety of desserts. 
 
Thank you to all of the members who donated items and or helped with the service.  Thank you especially to our many friends at Freedom for Youth Ministries.  Keep up the wonderful work that you do; every day on behalf of those wonderful children and the community!
 
We wish everyone a safe and fantastic Thanksgiving week/weekend.
(Pictured Above:  Rotarians Chriss Morrill of COUNTRY Financial® & Lee Holmes)
 
Rotarian Lee Holmes was in attendance at the regular meeting of the West Polk County Rotarians on November 16th, 2015.  Lee was invited by Sergeant of Arms Chris Morrill to share information about his past experience in leading a Rotary Service Trip to South Africa.
 
The primary mission of the trip was to explore a new well project at a local school that did not have access to clean water.  This effort was conducted under the direction of Blessman Ministries.  Blessman Ministries is a Christian ministry organization known for volunteer work and short-term mission trips to Africa.  Jim Blessman, President and co-founder of Blessman Industries was also in attendance at the meeting.
 
Rotarians are very active in South Africa, a country that has tremendous need as it tries to evolve as it continues to deal with industrial strife in the years after becoming a full democracy.  While things continue to improve, the country still deals with large pockets of extreme poverty and a lack of everyday amenities often taken for granted in the western world (i.e. potable water, toilet facilities, etc.). 
 
Holmes has led one group of Rotarians on a service mission to South Africa, and plans to return in January 2016.  In addition to well projects, Rotarians have also helped to construct greenhouses that allow for year around production of vegetables, they have conducted eye clinics, shoe fittings, and have their eye on additional projects in the future.
 
A few of these planned projects include the construction of new toilet facilities at schools and orphanages.  It costs approximately $15,000 to build a block of four toilet facilities, which are both sanitary and sustainable. 
 
The members of the Rotary Club of West Polk County would like to publicly thank Lee Holmes and his friends (Jim Blessman & Sarah Akin) from the Waukee Rotary Club for attending and presenting at this meeting.  To learn more about Blessman Ministries and your opportunity to attend a service trip to South Africa please visit http://www.blessmanministries.org
Pictured Above:  Guest Speaker Ronna Herzberg (Travel & Transport) & Rotarian Larry Lyon (Mr. Fix It)
 
Ronna Herzberg of Travel & Transport, with a local office located in Urbandale, was the speaker at the November 9th meeting of the Rotary Club of West Polk County.  Seargent of Arms Larry Lyon invited Herzberg to speak about the company and the services they offer.
 
Ronna shared with attendees information about the many destinations that Travel & Transport has helped their clients visit over the years.  The company serves both the private and the corporate client and is well versed in helping people seek out and discover great experiences.  These destinations can be half way around the world, or a unique destination closer to home.
 
Ironically, at the time of her presentation, Travel & Transport had a group from Grimes, via the local Chamber of Commerce visiting Ireland.  Upon their return, the participants were proud to report that indeed, Travel & Transport had helped them have a wonderful experience on the Emerald Isle.
 
The Rotary Club of West Polk County would like to thank Ronna Herzberg for sharing her story with our membership. 
 
The Honorable Jake Highfill addressed the members of the Rotary Club of West Polk County at their regular meeting on Monday, November 2nd, 2015.  Highfill is the Iowa State Representative from the 39th District, an area that encompasses Johnston, Grimes, and a portion of Urbandale. A Republican, he has served in the Iowa House of Representatives since 2013. Representative Highfill was full of energy and gave a lively presentation to those in attendance.

Representative Highfill recounted how he was the youngest individual to have ever been elected to the Iowa State House of Representatives, and shared with the group how he first became enamored and engaged in politics while attending the University of Iowa.  After sharing his background, he noted that although there are some very well publicized issues where it is not the case, generally Republicans and Democrats find common ground on the vast majority of the issues they undertake in the Iowa House.

Once the floor was opened to questions, Rotarians wasted no time in asking Representative Highfill to share his thoughts on a number of topics including school funding and mental health issues in Iowa.
Representative Highfill closed by indicating that things continue to change in the Iowa House.  One example he shared was how the average age of those currently serving is about 20 years younger than it was just six years ago.  This should allow for a good balance of experience and new ideas for legislators to consider in the coming years.

The Rotary Club of West Polk County would like to publicly thank Representative Highfill for presenting to our organization.  We would also like to thank Rotarian Jason Kerndt (VisionBank) for extending the invitation.
 
(Pictured Above: Jason Kerndts (left) of Vision Bank and Representative Jake Highfill (right).)
 
 
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Speakers & Events
Andrea Hodapp
Dec 18, 2017
Grimes/Johnston Adviser
 
Club Executives & Directors
President
President Elect
Secretary
Treasurer
Foundation Representative
Membership
Public Image
Youth Exchange Officer
Immediate Past President
 
 
The Rotary Club of West Polk County conducts their regular meetings at Toyota of Des Moines, 1650 SE 37th Street, Grimes, Iowa, USA.  The meetings begin at 12 Noon on every Monday of the month.   Feel free to join us at one of our meetings and learn how you can help us make a positive impact on our community and our world.