The compassionate students at Madison Elementary School carried out an amazing feat last week….raising money for our Veterans! It all began with an idea inspired by one of the 5th grade teachers’ father. She talked with her students, and a plan began to take shape. They were going to donate money to send Veterans on the Honor Flight!
Veterans from several wars visited the school and shared their stories. Alan Stekl, President of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, spoke to them about what the Honor Flight was, and where the recipients visit when they arrive in Washington, D.C. The students brought in all their spare change to school for several weeks and placed it in a big bowl.
The students brought in pictures and stories of the Veterans in their families to build a Hall Of Fame. They also created 200 cards for Mail Call, which Veterans will read on their way home from their visit to Washington, D.C.
The 5th graders applied for a grant and won $250 to provide groceries and toiletries to homeless Veterans. They secured some matching funds for the Honor Flight from MH Equipment and the Madison PTA. When all was said and done, they had raised over $2000 to send 4 Veterans on the next Honor Flight!
These students have a big heart, and we are so proud they used their time and resources to say, “Thank you, Veterans, for your service”!
The Cherry Building is a hidden gem in our community. It is right next to the New Bo Market, yet so many people overlook it. The building was built in the early 1900’s as a dairy equipment manufacturing plant. Today it is home to many small businesses, art studios, and retail shops. The first weekend in December is known as “A Very Cherry Holiday”, when the building is buzzing with fun, food, music, and laughter.
We toured the shops in the building during the event, spending several hours enjoying our time and speaking with various artists and business owners. Enjoy some of the highlights of our visit!
The Ceramics Center and Glass Studio was open for demos and for children to play with the clay. I knew we had a great ceramics center there—I had no idea the glass studio was there as well!
The Five Seasons Jazz Trio entertained us with beautiful music as we meandered through the building.
A surprise awaited us as we rode the freight elevator!
The Czech and New Bo Districts provided a free trolley for transportation between the two areas. We rode the trolley to the Czech Village for the Old World Market experience. Hay rack rides were available outside the Czech and Slovak Museum. Inside the museum, a vendor market featured lovely Czech handiwork, Christmas wreaths, chocolate truffles, beer tastings from the Lion Bridge, and so much more. Face painting was available free of charge for children. We were delighted to see children in traditional Czech clothing performing and dancing! There are so many more treasures that await when you visit the museum and library inside (more to come in a later post!).
The Cherry Building is located at 329 10th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids. The National Czech and Slovak Museum is located at 1400 Inspiration Pl. SW. Current admission prices (as of 2017) are $10 General Admission; $9 Seniors; $5 Active Military; $5 Students; $3 Youth Ages 6-13; Children 5 and Under are Free.
Imagine growing up on the streets of Chicago. Your future seems bleak. Kids in your class have parents that just disappear. Your father is addicted to heroin and just can’t get things together. People you know, kids you know, are dying on a regular basis. Your mama works hard to hold her family together so you can at least have a stable home. But the lure of money, drugs, and a fast life is too much to resist and you find yourself sucked in anyway….
That was the life of Jason Sole. He recently came to Mount Mercy University to share his story with others. The kids in his school grew up with trauma after trauma. I think this is a key piece that Jason has identified as to why kids in poverty and violent situations just become numb to the world outside them.
As a teenager, Jason was a great basketball player. He was playing with some of the best coming out of Chicago. One day after he returned home from basketball camp, he returned home to a very disappointed mother—she had found the drugs and money he stashed away. Jason was sent to Waterloo, Iowa to live with his aunt and finish high-school. Life in Iowa was still rough for him. His aunt battled mental health issues and he still encountered racism. He did graduate high school without failing a single class and his team made it to the state tournament. But all he could think about was how he left his team back home in Chicago and they lost the city championship because he wasn’t there to help them.
The lure of gang life was too hard for Jason to resist. After high school he returned to the life in both Chicago and Minnesota. Multiple arrests followed, and once he was shot in the leg–almost losing his leg.
Jason soon figured out that education was the only way out of his current situation. He earned Bachelor and Masters degrees in Criminal Justice. He is finishing up his doctorate in Public Safety Leadership. He is now training criminal justice students and law enforcement officers around the country about gangs and how to handle the delicate situation most of these kids come from.
Jason’s current project is teach his criminal justice classes, and give his speeches, wearing a hoodie. His thought process is that if we can “Humanize” the person behind the hoodie, we can break the stereotype that a young black man in a hoodie is up to no good. In reality, he is a person just like all the rest of us.
Jason has written a book about his experiences called From Prison to Ph.D. It is a great story about giving people a second chance and what they can accomplish.
Ah, summertime. Hot dogs, ice cream, and baseball! You can get all 3 at Perfect Game Field when you watch the Kernels play! Cedar Rapids is lucky to have a Class A baseball team in town. Going to games to see the Kernels play is always a fun time. The staff is so nice. Silly games and entertainment keep people engaged between innings. Many of the weekend games have a fireworks display afterwards.
If you’re not into the traditional hot dog fare, other food choices are grilled burgers, brats, chicken, philly cheesesteaks, and salads. There is even a Mexican food vendor!
We have been to the Kernels games many times. We’ve sat just about everywhere. The Mezzanine Level is great when you have a big party such as a corporate event. The kids love to sit on the side lawn and run around (that’s right—expend all that energy kiddos! You’ll sleep better when we get home!). Recently, I was lucky enough to win suite tickets from my employer ( a sweet deal, no pun intended). That was quite the experience! We rode the elevator up to the suites, and ours was right behind home plate. Great View. Opposing team hit a grand slam right away and it got everyone quite excited. When the heat was too much, we could go inside and watch the game from the stools by the window as the TV’s broadcast what was happening. Only thing missing was the recliner…
The Kernels are affiliated with the Minnesota Twins. Now, this is a bit tough for me because I am such a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan. However, I love to see the players hone their skills and we get so excited when they move up to the next level. The players have always been friendly guys. My kids have been able to go on the field with the players at the beginning of the game and participate in activities with them. Every summer the Kernels sponsor a reading program and when you finish, you get to meet the players and get their autographs at a special recognition event. What a positive experience!
The Kernels play at the Veteran’s Memorial Stadium complex at 950 Rockford Rd SW in Cedar Rapids.