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Nebraska nonprofit lends hand to Marshall County

contributed photo — Valley Days Foundation president Cindy Grove meets with Jake Rowley, Aly Wenner and Haley Cortez when the Marshalltown residents delivered supplies to Valley, Neb. after flooding in 2019.

A nonprofit foundation located more than 200 miles away gave a boost to Marshall County recently.

The Valley Days Foundation, based in Valley, Neb., donated $4,000 to the Marshall County Disaster Recovery Fund. The money will be earmarked for derecho relief.

“Relief is like those immediate needs after a storm,” said Julie Hitchins, executive director of the Community Foundation of Marshall County. “Getting people’s houses secure, getting food, getting shelter. Then we will move into the recovery phase.”

The donation is just the latest in an exchange of assistance between the rural Nebraska community and residents of Marshall County.

In 2019, a small group of Marshall County residents came to the aid of Valley in the wake of late-winter flooding that wreaked havoc along the Missouri River. Jake Rowley and Aly Wenner of Marshalltown were among the volunteers that brought supplies to communities in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska, including Valley.

contributed photo — YSS of Marshall County Rapid Rehousing youth advocate Sam Fox (middle) distributes items to program participants.

When Valley Days Foundation president and founder Cindy Grove learned of the derecho that hit Marshall County in August, she decided to return the favor.

“Once I heard what it did to Marshalltown, after all they went through with the tornado, it was devastating,” Grove said. “We’re glad we were able to pay it forward and help out a community that is in need. It’s great to have those partnerships.”

“I feel very blessed,” Wenner said of the donation. “I think the donation and the way our friendship began is ‘Midwest Nice’ in action.”

The foundation also reached out to Marshalltown’s Youth Shelter Services to donate supplies like blankets, coffee makers and tools along with $1,000 for the purchase of gas cards. The YSS storage garage which housed many of its supplies was destroyed by the winds gusting at more than 90 mph during the derecho.

YSS provides mental health services and works with foster care children in seven Iowa counties.

“We’re just thrilled that another agency in a neighboring state is willing to help groups in need,” YSS Director David Hicks said. “We can’t buy everything that was destroyed but this helped buy additional things. We’re just working with several families that have experienced some housing damage. It’s nice to help out families the best we can.”

Grove credits the initial kindness shown by Rowley and Wenner as the catalyst for what has bloomed into a somewhat neighborly relationship.

“The fact that they took their own personal time to collect supplies and drive to Nebraska, we wanted to help repay that,” she said.

Wenner believes the friendship between Marshalltown and Valley will continue.

“Valley is a very, very small community and they have stuck in my mind most out of all the communities I visited,” she said. “Their residents joining together to help each other reminded me so much of Marshalltown after the tornado.”

While the donations from the Valley Days Foundation will help with relief efforts, Hitchins said the funds in hand are not likely enough. She urges for more donations from those that are capable.

TO MAKE DONATIONS:

Donations to the Marshall County Disaster Recovery Fund can be made online at www.desmoinesfoundation.org/marshallcountydisasterfund or checks can be mailed to the Community Foundation of Marshall County, 11 N. First Ave., Marshalltown, IA 50158

DISASTER RECOVERY FUND

Non profits, cities and government entities can apply for assistance from the Marshall County Disaster Fund by contacting Julie Hitchins, executive director of the Community Foundation of Marshall County at director@cfmarshallco.org or calling the office at 641-758-3028.

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Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com

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