Random thoughts

Diversity, a caring volunteer and some needed help at Thanksgiving

Seven out of every 10 students in this year’s Marshalltown school district’s Kindergartner class “are classified and identified themselves as an ethnic minority.”

That was just one revelation imparted last month during a panel discussion about the changing face of Iowa during an event at the Midnight Ballroom.

The event brought together local leaders and community members who offered insights into how the state and its communities, specifically Marshalltown, are adapting and growing with an influx of a more diverse population.

It was an impressive evening, with a number of ideas being exchanged. But the takeaway I got from the meeting was that there is so much more we need to do to become a more welcoming and open community.

It’s not enough to just acknowledge the changing demographics; it’s something completely different to actually engage and invite someone new to the conversation.

There are some great organizations and entities in town who do good work in the community. But are they doing enough in terms of outreach? Are we getting to know our neighbors? Are we embracing our differences while recognizing that by working together, we can create a closer, more unified community that benefits everyone?

I admit, I sometimes do worry that we’re just paying lip service to this idea of diversity.

But I know Marshalltown has some good people who are sincere in leading the charge and others who are working toward that goal of becoming a stronger, unified community.

It was an encouraging sign to see the number of people at the event, including a couple of city council candidates, as well as panelist and Marshalltown Regional Parternship CEO David Barajas, and Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper, both of whom understand the importance of being more inclusive.

And as a wise sage once told me: “Mano y mano, poco a poco, vamos a ganar.” Hand in hand, little by little, we will win.

Understanding that message will only further Marshalltown’s future success.

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Journalists are storytellers. We are able to offer insight and perspective on a whole host of issues and personalities.

Reporter Adam Sodders’ recent story about long-time Iowa River Hospice volunteer Fred Haynes demonstrated why being a storyteller is a true privilege.

His recent article about Haynes, who reflected on his 20 years of service as a volunteer while serving 100 patients, showcased a man whose only desire was to make his clients’ remaining days peaceful and comfortable.

Talking about death, he remarked, is really about listening to those whose time on Earth is drawing near and understanding that they still want to talk about life.

One hundred patients, thousands of memories — Haynes, along with those who are committed to this type of volunteer work, are special people who give of themselves during what has to be a most difficult time for those at the end of their journey and their loved ones.

“I’d never thought that I’d ever have 100 patients and counting,” he told Adam. “I know I can’t do another 100, but if I could do one more that would be great.”

Thank you Fred for letting us tell your story.

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The Salvation Army in Marshalltown needs our help. They are looking for a minimum of 45 turkeys and 12 hams to help feed community members for their upcoming Thanksgiving dinner.

Donations of turkeys, hams or cash can always be dropped off at the Salvation Army, 107 W. State St., between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information, contact Majs. Ben and Beth Stillwell at (641) 753-5236.

If you can, give thanks this holiday season by giving back.

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Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611 or jhutton@timesrepublican.com