Financial Literacy Month student challenge equips students ages 13-18 with money management skills
Compete for an opportunity to win a college scholarship up to $10,000!
Families across the country are struggling financially in the wake of the pandemic, from unemployment to career shifts to a reduction in income. And with nearly a quarter of the population deemed “financially fragile”, this is a major social, economic and community issue.
With this in mind, Midwest Family Lending is proud to announce we’re sponsoring the EVERFI Financial Literacy Bee nationwide financial capability challenge.
The Financial Literacy Bee gives junior and senior high school students a chance to have some fun while learning critical financial concepts during Financial Literacy Month!
The short, interactive lessons teach students how to save, set financial goals, budget and invest. After completing the lessons, students submit a short capstone essay. In it they share a short-term, medium-term, or long-term savings goal and outline how they plan to achieve it. Three winners of the Financial Literacy Bee will receive up to $10,000 in college scholarships!
Submit a short essay sharing a savings goal and how you plan to achieve it! Submission deadline is April 15th.
“Midwest Family Lending is committed to engaging its communities, increasing financial literacy and driving impactful change. And strengthening our communities starts at home,” says Chuck West, President, Midwest Family Lending. “It’s important to all of our team that students are given the tools they need to reach their financial goals. We hope the Financial Literacy Bee will help drive dinner-table conversations about important financial topics.”
And follow along on our Facebook page throughout the Financial Bee challenge to learn more!
“The pandemic has shone a bright light on the financial vulnerability of most Americans, with 40 percent of American consumers reporting that they had trouble paying at least one bill or expense in 2020,” said Ray Martinez, co-founder and president, EVERFI. “We’ve always been committed to helping students increase their financial literacy. And during this historic time, we are also working to help parents feel more comfortable having dinner-table conversations about money. The Financial Literacy Bee is a fun way for students to learn important strategies to increase savings.”
Za-Ga-Zig Shriners is our featured charity this month and has received a $1500 donation through our MFLCares program. The funds will be used to support Shriners Children’s child life department and a summer camp for patients from Iowa.
“Za-Ga-Zig Shriners are honored to accept this generous donation from Midwest Family Lending on behalf of Shriners Children’s Twin Cities,” says Craig Matzke, the Des Moines-area Board of Governors representative to the facility. “This gift will benefit Shriners Children’s child life department and specifically a future summer camp for our patients from Iowa. Camps are one of the ways we treat the overall health and well-being of our patients and we hope to hold a camp at Camp High Hopes in Sioux City next summer.”
Through MFLCares, Midwest Family Lending employees nominate and select one cause each month to support that is dear to their hearts. Josh Brant one of our licensed mortgage loan originators, nominated Za-Ga-Zig Shriners after learning about what they do through the Iowa Shrine Bowl.
Why the Shriners?
“In 1996, I was selected to play in the Iowa Shrine Bowl,” Josh says. “This was such an honor to not only represent my school, teammates and family, but also to play for all the kids who don’t have the opportunity to play football due to disabilities. It was such an amazing experience, and I wanted to be able to give back to the Shriner’s.
Shriners International is a fraternity based on fun, fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth. The fraternity has nearly 200 chapters in several countries and thousands of clubs around the world. Its members are known for their compassion for others and for being active participants in their communities. Shriners help make the world a better place. Men from all walks of life and all levels of income find fun, fellowship and relaxation in their individual Shrine Centers and their activities.
Shriners Children’s – the Heart and Soul of the Shrine
Shriners Children’s was established as the fraternity’s official philanthropy in 1922. What began as one hospital, is now a world-renowned healthcare system with locations in three countries. It is a leader in several areas of specialty care, including burns, craniofacial conditions, orthopedics, spine care and sports medicine. Shriner’s Children’s strives to provide a full range of services and support to help its patients reach their goals and discover their full potential. In addition, the healthcare system conducts research to improve its patients’ quality of life and offers outstanding educational programs for medical professionals. All care and services are provided regardless of the families’ ability to pay or insurance status.
How You Can Help
Unfortunately, the Za-Ga-Zig Shrine Circus had to be cancelled this year due to COVID-19. But watch the local Shriners events calendar for upcoming family fun in the Des Moines area! Shriners don’t just drive little cars in parades. They also host great concerts, public dinners, hot rod car shows and many other events open to the public.
Shriners Children’s is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity of donors. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.
Through the generosity of donors, the Shriners have been able to help more than 1.4 million children reach their potential and lead more fulfilling lives— regardless of a families’ ability to pay.
MFLCares is a program of Midwest Family Lending, a local mortgage company committed to creating customers for life and to community impact. Check out our calendar to learn more about the great causes MFLCares is supporting this year.
This whole month has felt like a polar Groundhog Day in the Midwest….
✔️ Snow ✔️ So cold the dog won’t even go outside ✔️ Grateful at least now we can get our groceries and takeout curbside!
While you’re cooped up at home, here are a couple of things to check out that are important for every homeowner to know:
1. How to Unclog a Drain
Sometimes Draino just won’t cut it, and for those times: We resort to a plunger and a drain snake. It works wonders + almost always gets the job done! 100% try this method before calling in a professional!
2. Find Wall Studs
Finding wall studs is a must-know because you’ll have to locate them before you hang anything on the wall or put in shelving. To do this easily and on-the-cheap, simply knock on the wall. If it sounds solid, there’s a stud behind it, and you shouldn’t hang your item there.
3. Replace Air Filters
Replacing air filters is an easy job that many people don’t do often enough. We recommend buying a batch of filters at once and labeling them by month so you can be reminded every 30 days to rotate them out. The more you change filters, the less likely a problem is to arise.
4. Shut Off Water
It’s wise to turn-off your water before you leave for a vacation to avoid any possible flooding or leak issues. Locate where the main water valve is in your home and turn it off like you would a normal spout.
5. Address the Squeaks
Squeaky areas can get on a person’s last nerve. Lucky for us, the solution is often as easy as some WD40. We recommend having it on hand for a multitude of reasons, but it has definitely been a saving grace in this instance.
And when you’re looking for some cash to finance your next home renovation (hello, home office upgrade!) or are ready for a new space to call “home”, we’re here for you!
Girls Inc. of Sioux City is our featured charity this month and has received a $1500 donation through our MFLCares program. The funds will be used in support of the non-profit’s mission to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold.
“We are so grateful to Midwest Family Lending for this generous donation. Thanks to this support, Girls Inc. can continue to serve girls as a local learning hub with remote education support, meals, enrichment programs and a safe, positive place for Siouxland girls,” says Mandy Engel-Cartie, Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Sioux City. “Thank you Midwest Family Lending, for your legacy of being a caring community partner and helping to ensure that Siouxland children succeed.”
Through MFLCares, Midwest Family Lending employees nominate and select one cause a month to support that is dear to their hearts. Kim Hinrichsen, one of our licensed mortgage loan originators, nominated Girls Inc. because she wanted to support the work it does in strengthening her community through youth development.
“Girls Inc. provides a positive environment for girls to go while their parents are working,” Kim says. “And I’m all about empowering girls to become strong women who can find success in whatever they put their minds too. Girls Inc. is a wonderful resource in our community to make that impact during critical developmental years.”
Girls Inc. of Sioux City, is a local non-profit organization that promotes strong skill sets every girl needs. Its mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The Girls Inc. experience equips girls to navigate gender, economic and social barriers and grow into healthy, educated and independent adults.
The Girls Inc. Difference
“Today, girls continue to encounter significant obstacles to their well-being and success. Research tells us that girls are at the greatest risk of stress and depression, as they are asked to take on increased responsibility for household chores and childcare for siblings, endure family separation and even cope with the death of loved ones. Stress and isolation can seriously affect brain development,” Mandy says.
Girls Inc. delivers life-changing programs that inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Research-based curricula, delivered by trained professionals, equip girls to achieve academically; lead healthy and physically active lives; manage money; navigate media messages; and discover an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math. Girls build confidence and embrace positive decision-making to take charge of their health and well being, and achieve academic, personal, and career goals.
Make a Difference in a Young Girl’s Life
All of Girls Inc. programming is enhanced by amazing volunteers, who bring their own skills, talents, and life experiences to share with the girls. find and sign up for any of our current volunteer needs here.
Confidence, curiosity, and courage. Girls Inc. mentors let girls know it’s important to try new things, to keep going and to stand up for themselves and for others.
Experiences that have life-long impact as girls discover their strengths, plan for the future, and learn how to work with others.
The chance to be the first in her family to go to college. 85% of girls’ families in the program struggle to make ends meet. Many of these girls going to college will lead the way in their family.
Access to Girls Inc.’s computer lab and Operation SMART, the non-profit’s acclaimed STEM programs help girls learn to ask great questions and learn from bold mistakes.
Belief in her potential, by being one of the hundreds of people around Siouxland (and beyond!) who care enough to invest in her future.
MFLCares is a program of Midwest Family Lending, a local mortgage company committed to creating customers for life and to community impact. Check out our calendar to learn more about the great causes MFLCares is supporting this year.
Through MFLCares, Midwest Family Lending employees nominate and select one cause a month that is dear to their hearts.
Each charity will be spotlighted in its respective month. We’ll share how it supports our communities and how you can join our team to help get involved. All of MFLCares’ 2021 causes will also receive a $1500 donation in support of their missions.
“We started the MFLCares program in 2016 in an effort to create a conduit between our communities and the incredible causes within them. However, throughout the last five years, it has become much more than that. MFLCares is a huge part of who we are as a company. Each month, we get the opportunity to meet the real people behind these organizations, and it’s always both inspiring and humbling. We are proud just to play a small part in growing the awareness for these admirable charities.”
~Chuck West, president of Midwest Family Lending
MFLCares is a program of Midwest Family Lending, a local mortgage company committed to creating customers for life and to community impact.
Ruth Harbor Ministries is our first featured charity of 2021 and has received a $1500 donation through our MFLCares program. The funds will be used in support of the non-profit’s mission to offer Christ-centered homes and programs for pregnant and parenting young moms.
“Being selected for this generous contribution by Midwest Family Lending makes possible our work to help new moms and their babies be empowered and independent,” says Mark McDougal, Executive Director of Ruth Harbor Ministries.
Through MFLCares, Midwest Family Lending employees nominate and select one cause a month to support that is dear to their hearts. Mark Engleman, one of our licensed mortgage loan originators, nominated Ruth Harbor after learning about its mission from his wife, who’d heard about the local non-profit at church.
“After doing just a bit of research, it didn’t take me long to determine how worthy this organization is of our support,” Mark says. “Ruth Harbor’s programs help young mothers during a time when they have no other assistance – from serving young moms facing unplanned pregnancies to supporting those who’ve chosen to parent and are struggling to thrive and provide a quality life for their children. I’m thrilled to be a small part of supporting this wonderful organization.”
About Ruth Harbor Ministries
A Home – Not An Institution
While at Ruth Harbor, women receive counseling, education support, life-skills training, access to quality health care, spiritual guidance, parenting training and/or adoption assistance at no charge. The program’s focus is on being a home, not an institution, where up to six residents live modeling a family lifestyle. The emphasis is on grace and independent living rather than any circumstances that brought its residents. Mentors, host homes and partner agencies often provide additional support.
More than a shelter, more than a home, Ruth Harbor is also a program.
Staff members come alongside each resident to design a Care Plan tailored specifically to reach personal goals of growth, independence, safety, and life skills. The key difference between Ruth Harbor and other programs helping young moms is that its goal is to bring about a life change that ends the cycle of self-defeating behavior. The interdenominational Christian ministry was founded on the belief that a personal relationship with Christ is at the center of life change. The circumstances which bring women to Ruth Harbor are of little consequence; instead, staff focus on who these women are and how they feel about themselves when they leave. Young moms who come to Ruth Harbor receive support in decision-making and life skills. They are also are encouraged to continue their education. The ultimate goal is for these young moms to experience positive life change and ensure their children are well cared for.
Ruth Harbor’s History & Growth
Three women who believed God called them to provide a safe place and service and to support a gap that existed when a young woman decided to continue her pregnancy founded the ministry in 1996.
Ruth Harbor opened its doors and welcomed its first maternity residents at its Des Moines home in 2001. After years of serving young moms facing unplanned pregnancies, staff began to recognize another “gap” that needed to be filled. Young moms who’d chosen to parent and were struggling to thrive and provide a quality life for their children were also needing support. In 2016, it started a Mother-Child Program and also began accepting young moms who were parenting one young child. Then, in 2018, it opened a full-time Mother-Child Program at a second home in Carlisle, Iowa. And the original Des Moines home returned to a full-time Maternity Program for young moms facing unplanned pregnancies.
& Parenting Training
All young moms receive ongoing professional counseling at Ruth Harbor. All of the women who enter its Mother-Child Program are given ongoing parenting training and instruction. Young moms in Ruth Harbor’s Maternity Program are counseled through the decision of whether to parent or place their unborn children for adoption. But it is solely their decision. Residents who decide to parent their babies receive extensive parenting classes and life skills training to ensure those babies are well cared for after they’re born. Residents who choose adoption are well-informed of their options and are connected to an adoption agency specifically skilled to assist them through the process. Additionally, they receive life skills training and all of the other services available at Ruth Harbor.
While the focus of Ruth Harbor’s ministry is to support the young moms and children it serves, the Ministry believes everyone thrives when the entire family is healthy. Therefore, families and birth fathers of its residents are offered its counseling and parenting training support at no charge – provided those relationships are healthy for its residents to continue to engage in.
How You Can Help
All of Ruth Harbor’s services are provided at no cost. And as an interdenominational, Christ-centered ministry, the organization does not use state government funding. Therefore, it relies solely on the support of individuals, churches and groups who support its mission. Community support helps the team serve 18-30 individuals ages 14 to 23 annually.
Ruth Harbor is holding a Virtual Fundraising Event through January 31. Click the link to hear Hannah’s story, her mom’s perspective, a powerful perspective from keynote speaker Kirk Walden and to see the cutest baby clips ever!
Ruth Harbor’s Walk For Life is a family-friendly, outdoor event, which will be held Saturday, May 8 (Mother’s Day weekend). Become a “sponsored walker” and join in a 1-mile walk to celebrate and raise awareness and funds for the ministry. Provide your email here to receive details.
MFLCares is a program of Midwest Family Lending, a local mortgage company committed to creating customers for life and to community impact. Check out our calendar to learn more about the great causes MFLCares is supporting this year.
HopeSpoke is our last featured charity of 2020 and has received a $2020 donation through our MFLCares program. The funds will be used in support of the non-profit’s mission of inspiring healthy futures for children and their families through comprehensive behavioral and mental health services.
“HopeSpoke helps kids who might otherwise fall through the cracks and not get the help they need,” says Jean Holman, one of our licensed mortgage loan originators. “And, like I always say, we can all use a little help sometimes.”
Through MFLCares, Midwest Family Lending employees nominate and select one cause a month to support that is dear to their hearts. Jean nominated HopeSpoke after one of her customers had told her about the local non-profit and its mission.
“We’re grateful to Jean for choosing HopeSpoke to receive this generous gift, which will ensure HopeSpoke has the crucial resources to provide outpatient services to all who need them, regardless of their ability to pay for services,” says Katie McLeese Stephenson, MSW, executive director of HopeSpoke.
HopeSpoke helps children and families heal, be courageous and find strength to live well by providing them with the skills to feel empowered and be successful. The local non-profit has a long history of reaching out with expert care to make the community a better place, full of happy, hopeful and healthy families.
The organization was founded under the vision of the Junior League of Lincoln and the Community Chest (the precursor to United Way) in 1949 as Child Guidance Center. It was formed to meet the community’s needs after the Child Guidance national movement identified how treatment for children’s mental health services needed to be different from that of adults.
HopeSpoke inspires healthy futures for children and their families through comprehensive behavioral and mental health services. Its philosophy is to understand the unique qualities and experiences of those it serves as influenced by emotional and cognitive development, family situation, social environment and personality. Then through dynamic, interactive therapy, its team works to examine problems while building on strengths.
Due to COVID-19, HopeSpoke’s committee members are looking into alternative options for holding its annual spring event. But donations are still needed now. Community support helps the team serve 1,800 individuals of all ages annually.
MFLCares is a program of Midwest Family Lending, a local mortgage company committed to creating customers for life and to community impact. Check out our calendar to learn more about the great causes MFLCares has supported this year.
In the understatement of the year, 2020 has been incredibly difficult for many. Although the need’s overwhelming, our employees wanted to help end it on a positive note and make the Christmas season a bit brighter.
Each employee selected an organization or family they’d like to support in a project we called “SpreadCheer”. We hope you’ve joined us in celebrating the 25 days of Christmas by watching as we’ve announced the recipients of our 25 employees’ gifts of $1000 to 25 people and organizations in need.
ICYMI, here’s a recap!
We encourage you to check them out! And we would love it if you would share their stories too. Though we know monetary donations are important and appreciated, we truly believe the long-term benefit is growing the awareness of these incredible organizations and people.
The pantry serves central Iowa and offers a Backpack program to feed children in five local schools who would otherwise go hungry. Each week, 125-150 meals are distributed through the program.
“As a Backpack program volunteer, I’ve heard firsthand the stories of how important these meals are to food-insecure children in our community,” Eric says. “No one wants children in our community to go hungry. When I first started to help, I wasn’t aware of how large of a need there was — and that need is greater today than it has ever been. That’s why it is so important to continue to support this wonderful program.”
According to Feeding America, a network of nationwide food pantries, 1 in 7 Iowa children struggles with hunger. The need for assistance is growing as a result of the pandemic.
the use of play and other forms of communication, UIHC’s Child Life specialists
help children and families cope with hospitalization and medical treatment. Child
Life staff are positive, kind, gentle and understanding souls who provide an
invaluable service to families facing pediatric illness — and that care wraps
around the entire family. Sibling support group is a program that focuses on
ensuring siblings of patients are also included. The team answers siblings’
questions about the patient’s care and fills some of the downtime by playing
games and other fun activities with them. The team’s care made an impact on the
Draisey family when Derek’s son Bryce was hospitalized several times in the
span of two years.
“UIHC’s Child Life team is a wonderful group of people who spend their days making a very difficult time a little less scary for pediatric patients and their families,” Derek says. “They brought us all comfort and even joy during a very difficult time. Even after all these years, we still consider the Child Life staff family.”
her son’s oldest friend from elementary school, Jackie has developed a close
relationship with PJ and his wife Becky, whom she says are “the kindest, most
giving couple I know”. And she’s also seen the impact their daughter Freya’s
medical needs have had on the family.
was born 9 weeks early. Umbilical complications resulted in lack of oxygen for
nearly 10 minutes and left their firstborn fighting for her life. After months
of care in the hospital, they were finally able to bring her home. But the
resulting complications, medical bills and a job loss have taken a toll on this
sweet family. Obtaining specialized equipment to help Freya with her special
needs and development remains an ongoing concern.
“Needless to say, the past couple of years have been extremely stressful for this family,” Jackie says. “I can’t imagine the strain put on them both, but they remain positive and keep fighting and finding ways to get Freya the help she needs.”
Angels for Sam supports local families who have been impacted financially by illness, injury or bereavement. Having a niece and nephew who have battled life-threatening diseases at a young age, Mike is familiar with some of the struggles families of children with health issues are faced with. While the children endure the illness, the families that are faced with the reality and emotions of having a sick child along with the accompanying financial hardship. Through fundraising efforts and donations and a recipient referral process, Angels for Sam is able to help some of these families in need.
“Families facing this shouldn’t have to be concerned about financial hardship on top of everything,” Mike says. “I’m thankful to be able to support Angels for Sam in its effort to “pay it forward”.
residents Cassey and Kodi have five children ages 3-13 and have been working
multiple jobs to try to make ends meet.
“After being notified of this opportunity to bless someone in our community, I called the pastor at my church, knowing he would be the best place to start,” Kyle says. “A local family came to mind immediately. When Pastor Greg called them about this gift, Cassey was brought to tears of joy. My pastor said it was the best phone call he’s gotten to be a part of in a long time.”
“This is the BEST gift I have EVER received from an employer!” Molly says. “2020 has been a year like no other. I’m grateful that I can give back to a community that supports my kids while I’m working from home. As Coretta Scott King so wisely said, ‘The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members’.”
The Van Meter Athletic Booster Club is a non-profit organization committed to fundraising, volunteerism and community engagement. “Bulldog Boost” is a program the club recently launched to help and encourage local families in need. The Club is working with the school nurse, counselors, administrators and the Van Meter United Methodist
Churchto identify local individuals and
families who could use an extra “boost” this holiday season. 100% of funds
raised will be distributed to Van Meter Bulldog fans in need.
The Patriot Guard Riders is a
volunteer organization that ensures dignity and respect at memorial services
honoring fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged
veterans. The group has an unwavering respect for those who risk their lives
for America’ freedom and security. The riders escort and “stand for those who
stood for us” with flags in hand lining cemeteries and churches to honor and
protect families of the fallen. They volunteer their time, gas, lodging, etc.
Donations are used to provide plaques, flags, teddy bears, challenge coins and
police officer coins in recognition of service and sacrifice. The riders donate
any remaining funds at the end of the year to various fallen solider/wounded
“I’ve personally seen the passion Jim Clark (state captain for Patriot Guard Rider’s Iowa Chapter, pictured center) and Bill Murphy (the chapter’s chaplain, pictured right) share for the group’s mission,” Sara says. “Jim’s attended more than 1,000 missions and Bill has been part of about 100, along with his whole family. Our first responders and military are the first call we make when we are in trouble, and they deserve protection and peace of mind as they lay their loved ones to rest.”
Patriot Guard Riders only attend services to which they’ve been invited by the family. You don’t have to be a veteran to join. You don’t have to ride a bike to join. You only need respect and the desire to show it.
grew up a few doors down from the Heikens and was their go-to babysitter whenever
they needed an extra hand while raising their family. Now married with a family
of her own, the Heikens consider Brianna and the Gravs part of their extended
family. As such, they’ve seen the toll the past four years have been on the
and her twin, Sawyer, were born on March 11, 2016. Saige entered the world with
two life-threatening birth defects — esophageal atresia (her esophagus and
stomach weren’t connected) and tracheoesophageal fistula (an abnormal
connection between her esophagus and windpipe). As a result, she’s endured more
than 22 surgeries, numerous ambulance rides, lengthy hospitals stays, daily
treatments and ongoing doctor appointments. She’s been in the hospital more
than she’s been home. And, unfortunately, this little warrior’s challenges have
“In the past four years the Gravs have experienced extended separations, financial challenges, and more emotional and heartbreaking strains than most would experience in a lifetime,” Linden says. “I wanted to help ease the burden for this resilient and steadfast family and to pass on some Christmas cheer to them this year.”
Siouxland in the fight against hunger, the local food bank is the distribution
center to more than 110 agencies in northwestern Iowa and northeastern
Nebraska. It’s also home to three additional programs — The Mobile Pantry
Program: Food to You, the Mobile School Pantry Program: Food for Families, and
the BackPack Program: Food for Kids. The latter’s what drew Kim to the cause to
which she has personally donated for several years.
“The thought of anyone going hungry much less a child was just not acceptable,” Kim says. “This year has been an especially difficult year with the pandemic that has left so many struggling to provide food for their families. It’s also the season of giving; I’m reminded of just how blessed my family and I are and hope that this contribution can help as many people as possible.”
“We are experiencing extraordinary times right now. However, in the midst of all the challenges and concerns, one thing remains constant: the need to eat,” says Valerie Petersen, Director Of Development for the Food Bank of Siouxland. “In addition to those who were food insecure before we heard the term ‘COVID-19’, now countless individuals and families who are no longer certain of their paychecks need our help as well.”
FY20 Food Bank of Siouxland distributed more than 3.5 million pounds of food —
a 35% increase over FY19. Prior to the pandemic, its monthly distribution
increase was 10% on average, which is considered normal. Between March and
September its monthly increases ranged between 38% and 73%. Monetary and
physical donations (preferably shelf-stable items) and volunteers are needed to
help meet this. Another way to help is the 17th Annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser
and Hunger Awareness event, which will be held virtually this year on Friday,
Little Al Foundation helps families who have to travel for their children to
receive medical treatment by providing dining, gas, groceries, lodging and
other gift cards. The Foundation’s goal is to alleviate some of the financial
burden not covered by insurance. Ryan and Holly Miller started the foundation
in memory of their son Alan who died in 2005. The Little Al Foundation is
dedicated to helping families in Iowa stay together while going through some of
the toughest things they will face.
“The Foundation supported some friends of mine when their daughter needed heart surgery and helped to take a lot of stress out of their hard journey,” Eric says. “It’s a great cause that supports families facing the unimaginable in their time of need.”
grew up attending the camp each summer and spent 13 summers volunteering there
as a counselor, music leader and grounds/kitchen volunteer. The camp had such
an impact on her that it’s even where she got married! And each year her family
rents one of its retreat cabins to get away and enjoy the great outdoors
“Camp Quaker Heights has meant so much to me, and knowing it was greatly needed this year, I wanted to do more to help,” Katie says. “I feel so blessed to share this gift.”
various camps and retreats, church camps provide a positive environment for
kids and adults alike. And the foundations made at camp last a lifetime.
“Surrounded by nature and unplugged from today’s distractions, camps provide
what many call a ‘thin spot’— a place to connect to what matters most. We all
need that now more than ever,” Katie says.
church camps across the county have been hit hard by COVID-19, causing some to
have to close their doors permanently. Summer camps typically account for
nearly 60% of CQH’s annual budget. It was only able to host camps for two
weekends last summer — 10% its typical number of campers.
“We’re so grateful for this gift to help with our operating costs,” says Chip Daleske, CQH camp administrator. “It’s been a tough year with everything life has thrown at us. Because our income was affected so much this year, we’re extra thankful for the individuals and churches that have stepped up their giving this year — above and beyond!”
Looking to get away somewhere safe and spend time with those you love? CQH’s retreat center and cabins are available to rent year round. Its property borders Pine Lake State Park and the Iowa River—great for hiking, exploring and unwinding!
a child is diagnosed with cancer, a family’s life as they know it comes to an
abrupt halt. Unfortunately, their monthly expenses do not. That’s where Angels
Among Us comes in. The charity provides financial and emotional support to
families battling pediatric cancer in Nebraska. Prior to Troy being born, his
parents had a son who died of leukemia at the age of 5. He knows how difficult
the experience was on his parents, and it inspired him to personally donate to
this Omaha-based organization each year.
“When you read and see what these children are going through and how hard it is on them and their families, it pulls at your heartstrings,” Troy says. “It’s important to me to help this local charity financially to carry out its great mission.”
Day 13 🎁 Marti Myer | Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department
Department proudly provides fire and EMS protection for 36 square miles in
Warren County Iowa. As an all-volunteer fire & rescue department,
volunteers lose sleep, miss family functions and are currently putting
themselves at a higher risk with COVID-19 to protect others in their community.
They rely on donations but, unfortunately, weren’t able to hold their annual
fundraiser this year due to the pandemic.
group is “near and dear” to Marti’s heart, as her husband has served as a local
volunteer firefighter for the past 13 years.
“I know this year has been tough on the fire department,” Marti says. “They’re passionate about helping others and giving back to our community — even in the middle of the night when the rest of us our sleeping. And they deserve our support.”
FreeStore is a furniture bank run by volunteers that supports children and
families who’ve escaped domestic violence situations and those suffering from
other forms of trauma including natural disaster and criminal assault. It
provides donated furniture and household goods to help these families start
over in safe environments.
“These families often have nowhere to turn and nowhere to call home,” Stacy says. “The FreeStore serves so many families who literally have nothing. I can’t imagine being in that position, especially with children in tow.”
learned about the charity through a board member and has collected donations
through her church the last several years. She says they’re always in need of
small kitchen appliances, bedding, furniture, other household goods and
monetary gifts. Last year the FreeStore served 336 families, including 390
adults and 549 children, with 274 tons of furniture and other household goods.
COVID-19 has been challenging for the charity, as many of its volunteers are
older than 70. The warehouse had to shut down in March and reopened in May with
protocols to protect clients, volunteers and donors.
Center supports survivors to unite communities to promote social change. Crisis
Intervention includes support, listening, information, options and assessing
danger. Advocacy includes exploring alternatives, formulating action plans and
providing follow up and resources. The center’s services are free, voluntary, confidential
and available to all without discrimination. Trained advocates provide acute
crisis response and long-term advocacy services.
Mark learned about the center through our #MFLCares program and has also since heard about the impact of the organization’s services directly from a survivor. “Crisis Intervention & Advocacy Center is a wonderful and much needed service, supporting those in our communities facing the worst of what humans can do to one another,” Mark says. “I’m hopeful our support of the center will shed light on what a great organization it is and will encourage others to support it as well.”
“When a business like Midwest Family Lending takes the time to hear our mission, it’s also coming alongside us to see violence and oppression in its own communities and doing something about it,” says Taylor Sullivan, Crisis Intervention & Advocacy Center’s communication & technology coordinator. “Thank you for choosing to donate and support our mission to make our communities stronger and safer.”
Cole Williamson is a senior at Adel DeSoto Minburn Community School District battling a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects children and young adults. Cole was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma in September and is now undergoing chemotherapy. His treatment plan throughout the course of the next year will also require radiation and surgery. Despite all of this, Cole maintains a positive attitude and loves being part of his high school football and baseball teams.
played travel baseball with Carey’s son on a team her husband coached for about
7 years. And, as anyone who’s had children in competitive sports knows, through
all the games, traveling tournaments, team meals and hotel stays teammates and
their families become part of your own.
“You laugh together, cry together and take care of each other,” Carey says. “Cole’s family is splitting their time with work and hospital stays, which can be challenging. This gift will hopefully ease a little bit of the burden they have right now.”
Bidwell Riverside Center supports Des Moines’ Southside community through its
Food & Clothing Pantry and Child Development Center. Curvin learned about
the center through its partnership with Des Moines Area Religious
Council, where he’s volunteered through the nonprofit’s Meals from
the Market program, collecting donations from patrons and vendors at the
Downtown Farmers Market. The donations, largely of fresh produce, are then
delivered to DMARC’s network of local pantries, including Bidwell Riverside
“When the Farmers Market couldn’t be held as it traditionally is, I thought of all the boxes and truckloads of fresh food that never made their way to local food pantries as a result,” Curvin says. “With 2020 being so difficult for so many, I find comfort and hope knowing there are places like the Bidwell Riverside Center in my community to help.”
“I can’t imagine one of my kids going through this,” Josh says. “I wanted to help out a local family that was dealing with a tough time. So I contacted our school system, where Mr. Larson connected me with the Currents.”
had a 5 lb. 2 oz tumor removed from her abdomen in October, which the surgeon
said was a miracle. She’s currently on her second round of chemo, five days a
week, with two more rounds to follow. She will have extensive hospital bills
and out-of-pocket costs will likely exceed $24K just in the next 6 months.
She’ll then transition to weekly, two-hour blood tests for the next two years.
Due to her condition and COVID-19, Peyton’s been completely isolated from her
friends. This gift will help her family to purchase a computer so she may play
games and communicate with her family and friends. But it doesn’t end there….
Shortly after Josh spoke with Peyton’s father about his gift, Mr. Current called back with an incredible question — “I’ve talked with my wife, and we’re very appreciative of the gift you’re going to give to help us through Christmas and make it special. But I was wondering if we could give half of the money to another family that’s going through the same thing as Peyton? They have 9 kids, and it’s a little rough for them at this time.”
Currents are an inspiring example of what our #SpreadCheer movement is all
about – paying it forward.
Because our mission’s to create
customers for life, our customers become an extension of our “family” at
Midwest Family Lending. And that’s how Jason got to know the Johansens five
“Life hasn’t been easy for the Johansens; Kendra and John are the definition of selfless love,” Jason says. “I feel like I become a better person just by being around them.”
Jennifer, the Johansens’ only child,
was born premature and not breathing with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly
around her neck. As a result, she requires 24/7 care, and her parents have
spent the last 33 years “guessing” her needs/wishes. At age 5, surgeons
inserted a shunt to relieve pressure caused by a cyst at the base of her brain,
which has required many revision surgeries. The one in 2005 left her unable to
walk. She’s crossed death’s door many times, and John had to take early
retirement to help care for her when Medicaid ran out. But he says it’s all
been part of a greater plan.
“Jennifer’s life and spirit has been all about teaching others — mostly how to love and accept each other. We know our three lives have definitely been blessed,” John says. “We continue to take one day at a time. We hope this little glimpse into our lives will inspire each of you to experience the Miracle this season’s all about.”
“As a member for several years, I’ve seen firsthand how donations through the Foundation make a difference in people’s lives,” Ben says. “This organization has been committed to helping people on a day-to-day basis and continues to try to expand and improve on making our community a better place.”
Philanthropy has been
Omaha’s Scottish Rite Masonic’s hallmark of the since its formation in 1867 —
just three months after Nebraska became a state. The foundation gives more than
$100,000 to the community each year. Since 1992, it has underwritten $28,000
annually in merit and need-based scholarships for University of Nebraska at
Omaha students. Omaha’s Scottish Rite’s signature focus is RiteCare Speech and
Language therapy, to which the Masons have donated more than $25 million since
1975. RiteCare Speech and Language Clinic is located at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer
Institute. Speech therapy is also offered to Nebraska children through clinic
locations in Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings and Kearney, as well as to children
across the state through telepractice. In the past year, 1,035 children
received 5,000 therapy sessions. Therapy’s provided to children on the Autism
Spectrum, those with Down Syndrome, Aphasia, Apraxia, feeding and swallowing
disorders, and a host of speech disorders. And services are provided to families
without regard to their ability to pay. The Scottish Rite Foundation of Omaha
also seeks to give back to the community through financial support each year to
the Omaha Home for Boys, the Masonic-Eastern Star Home for Children, the
Fatherhood-Family Initiative, as well as the Meyer Foundation for Disabilities.
Training Table rescues and redistributes perishable food to some of the most diverse and at-risk student populations in Des Moines — primarily through urban high schools and area nonprofits. Several years ago, FCA asked the coaches in Des Moines’ five urban high schools how the ministry could best serve them and their student athletes. The resounding, surprising and unanimous response was “feed our kids”. Urban coaches were seeing too many hungry students from food-insecure homes. The coaches knew their athletes were at a disadvantage in competing because many lacked the nutrition to give their best physically and mentally in practice and in games, let alone perform well in the classroom. In an effort to help, FCA partnered with QuikTrip to rescue perishable food the stores could no longer sell, but that had not reached its expiration date. In that past 5 ½ years, Training Table has rescued more than 570,000 food items valued in excess of $1.9 million dollars redistributed at no cost to student athletes representing 21 different sports in 5 schools, as well as other at-risk youth in the community. Thanks to local nonprofits, students also get access to this food even during non-school days and the summer!
Charlie’s $1,000 gift will be used to fund the maintenance needed for food distribution this winter. He heard about the program through Contributors Breakfast Club, which was started in 1987 for members to connect with peers and the community through charitable work, reciprocity and social activities.
“Three simultaneous wins makes for an extremely impactful mission — kids are fed, companies are engaging with the communities they serve, and food waste is drastically eliminated,” Charlie says. “I also love that a (then) newly retired CEO came up with the idea, proving that some of life’s best ideas don’t have an age expiration.”
Fresh Start is a transitional shelter located in Lincoln
that empowers homeless women to change their lives by recognizing and utilizing
their strengths to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency. Fresh Start is more
than a shelter — it’s a goals program that supports women who are working
diligently to improve their lives. Women may stay in the shelter up to 1 year
followed by community support up to 2 years with monthly visits and quarterly
food baskets provided. Fresh Start has served more than 1,500 women throughout
the last 30 years.
A friend introduced Jean to the charity, and she was moved to take action after seeing the videos about what they do. “I wanted to help women struggling in our community to get back on their feet.” Jean says. “We all need a little help sometime.”
Day 23 🎁 Hannah Fuller | 10 Des Moines Families in Need
Hannah selected a drive to provide Christmas gifts and food to families in need in the Des Moines area. Ten sponsors have purchased gifts, food, etc. to provide joy and hope to 10 families from homes in Oakridge and the Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa.
Hannah learned of the project after her family had been requested to be a sponsor through connections at @Dowling Catholic High School. “Usually companies are sponsors for families, but with many people working from home because of COVID, it was harder to find corporate sponsors,” Hannah says. “I used to do something very similar when I was in high school, called Christmas Baskets. It’s a great way to give back and help others have an amazing Christmas, filled with the things they’ve always wanted.”
This project stems from former Drake University basketball player Jeff Hill’s Future All-American Basketball Camp. Jeff wanted to bless these families at Christmas. Heidi Grace with @Grace Label Inc. and Mary Jo Hardy with @Skeffingtons have helped organize sponsors to provide for families in need over the years. Hannah’s gift will provide monetary gifts to all 10 families and ensure they’re taken care of this holiday season.
Skateboard Ministry uses skateboarding as a tool to teach, mentor and disciple
youth. Its goal is to provide a safe, sober, year-round facility for skaters to
do what they love in an encouraging, fun and positive environment. The
nonprofit runs the only indoor skate facility in southern Colorado (G&P
Indoor Skatepark) and now had a second location in Rapid City, South Dakota
(G&P SD). Process Skateboard Ministry is a youth outreach program through
Chuck, our president, and his wife Jean have so enjoyed learning about all of the awesome people and organizations selected, they wanted to kick off the New Year by adding one more recipient!
Laurie Dawes is a wife, mom, daughter, sister and nurse who lives in the Wests’ community of Adel and is in the midst of battling ALS. She’s spent many years caring for others, and now it’s time for the community to come together to support her in her time of need.
“We’ve selected the Dawes family because we want them to know they have a community of support behind them as Laurie battles ALS,” Jean says. “The medical bills, along with the living accommodations that come with ALS can become financial burdens on any family. But this burden doesn’t even compare to the emotional strains of living with the disease. We hope sharing their story spreads awareness of their situation and lifts them up with a little donation and a lot of love and prayers. Laurie has brightened many a room with her huge smile. We hope this will also bring a smile to her face!”
Whether it’s to these awesome causes or an equally deserving party, we encourage you to #SpreadCheer into 2021!
I’d like to thank these amazing families and organizations for sharing their stories with us this Christmas season. The daily examples of compassion, sacrifice and perseverance have been truly inspirational. We are surrounded by communities made up of incredible people, and I‘ve been reminded of that each day this month.
In the understatement of the year, 2020 has been incredibly difficult for many. But the year’s not over and neither is the chance for all of us to come together to do what we can to help end it on a positive note.
Although the need is overwhelming, Midwest Family Lending’s employees are hoping to make the Christmas season a bit brighter for at least a few. Each employee has selected an organization or family they would like to help out this month in a project we’re calling “SpreadCheer”.
Please watch our Facebook page daily, where we’ll announce each recipient and share their story. We encourage you to check them out, and learn about these amazing groups and people! And we would love it if you would share their stories too. Though we know monetary donations are important and appreciated, we truly believe the long-term benefit is growing the awareness of these incredible organizations and people.
On this and every day, we are beyond grateful for the opportunity to help our customers achieve the dream of home ownership. All of us at Midwest Family Lending are truly grateful to have you as part of our Midwest Family Lending family.
Despite the challenges this year has brought, we all have a lot to be thankful for. Though we may not be observing our same, time-honored traditions, what we’re celebrating remains the same — giving thanks.
Looking for some alternative ideas?
Here are some of our team members’ fave traditions:
Mom’s homemade pumpkin pie is my favorite. But it has to have real whipped cream with enough sugar to have a little “gritty” texture. No Cool Whip for this guy; I like the real stuff! ~Linden
We have a longstanding tradition of playing games together. The loser has to do the dishes. Going on 21 years of never doing a dish! ~Josh
In addition to a traditional Thanksgiving meal, my wife’s side of the family also has one that’s themed. Last year it was Greek, the year before that was Southern food and the year before was German! We’re all responsible for bringing something to contribute and trying our luck at making food outside of our comfort zone. We’ve had some flops and some awesome ones too. The Asian-themed year with the fryer in the garage catching fire was memorable for sure! ~Kyle, aka #TallMoneyMan
One of our family’s traditions is to say what we’re thankful for while standing in a circle and holding hands. ~Marti, our processor
The whole family helps clean the turkey and prepare the cornbread stuffing the night before Thanksgiving. Everyone has a task, and family tradition dictates that significant others have to chop the onions their first Thanksgiving with us. In a week filled with prep work for the meal, this is where Mom gets to kick back and relax. Her only job is to add the sage to the dressing. I’m not typically a fan of stuffing but this family recipe is legendary. ~Curvin
On the way home from visiting my family, we stop in Nebraska to load up on Runza’s (seasoned ground beef mixed with cabbage and onions baked inside a bread pocket). ~Mark
We spend the afternoon playing canasta while enjoying pumpkin pie. ~Jackie, our mortgage loan closer
Fighting over the leftovers — the stuffing’s my favorite! ~Molly
Usually I cook and we host my husband’s family. Due to COVID-19 it will be very small this year. But it makes my husband happy that he will have more leftover turkey, so I guess that is a win! ~Jean
My favorite tradition is ‘grazing’ and chatting while the food is being prepped! ~Charlie
Traditionally it’s the one time all year my siblings are all together. Then we have Casey’s pizza for dinner. ~Jason
Card games with the entire family after dinner. Yes, they’re for money, because everyone knows there’s no such thing a “playing for fun” in a card game. ~Chuck, our president
One of my favorite Thanksgiving traditions is watching a movie at the end of the night with the fam! ~Hannah, our mortgage processing associate