YWCA grant

Tara Bellich, left, of the River Bluff Community Foundation, presents a $5,000 grant to Shannon Sander-Welzien, YWCA Clinton’s executive director. The grant will be put toward the YWCA’s Women Workforce Ready program. Submitted photo

CLINTON — The River Bluff Community Foundation has awarded grants to two local nonprofits that support health and opportunity for Clinton-area families.

“The Community Foundation’s grant-making goal is to partner with organizations to seed new ideas or grow existing programs,” said board member Tara Bellich. “These projects are a great fit for that mission.”

$5,000 for Women Workforce Ready program

“Today in Clinton County, employers in all sectors are struggling to find workers to fill their open positions,” said Shannon Sander-Welzien, YWCA executive director. “At the YWCA, we’ve also seen a drastic increase in the number of homeless individuals and families. The state of Iowa demonstrated a 211% increase in homelessness last winter.”

Clinton and Jackson counties have a waiting list of over 144 people or families that have applied for homelessness assistance. Before the pandemic, one in three people in Clinton County was at risk of homelessness due to poverty, which has increased with the impact of COVID-19.

The YWCA’s Women Workforce Ready program is a holistic suite of services designed to address the major barriers of housing and education or training women face in achieving self-sufficiency — especially women who are experiencing homelessness or on the verge of homelessness. By working with case managers bi-weekly for up to one year, WWR participants will receive continuous support, advocacy on their behalf, and guidance in navigating systems necessary to secure education and training so that they can gain the skills they need to become workforce ready.

WWR will serve 75 women and children by providing safe, affordable housing; addressing emergent needs for clothing, physical and mental health care; supporting personal stability through case management and referrals to appropriate agencies; and connecting participants to education and training opportunities.

$748 for Pick a Better Snack program

Pick a Better Snack, a program led by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, brings fruits and vegetables into the classroom for students in kindergarten through third grade and provides monthly lessons from nutrition educators.

According to 2021 health rankings, Clinton County ranks 84th out of 99 Iowa counties with the poorest health outcomes — how long people live and how healthy people feel — and 91st out of 99 for indicators like health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Pick a Better Snack is a comprehensive wellness program that builds capacity for wellness in the schools and can impact the family and community environment to encourage wellness. The program is positioned to help improve the health factors and outcomes for communities in Clinton County.

“Clinton County 4-H wants youth to taste for themselves local, fresh produce, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach can be the bridge between farm and table,” said Amanda Rau, county youth and 4-H coordinator. “Trying a variety of fruits and vegetables helps youth and families learn about where their food comes from and how to make healthy decisions.”

The local Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office plans to visit first-grade classrooms at one of the elementary schools in Clinton as as pilot. In the future, the program can be expanded. In the long-term, Clinton County 4-H and Master Gardeners hope to establish thriving community gardens to give everyone an opportunity to grow their own food. Learn more at https://idph.iowa.gov/inn/pick-a-better-snack.

Visit dbqfoundation.org/rbcf to learn more.

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