Commitment Key to Keeping Resolutions

A new year, a new opportunity to become a better version of ourselves. For those of us who see the glass half full, the new year is a chance to start again and maybe make better choices during the next 365 days.

But for some, making a New Year’s resolution is difficult. Why make a promise to do something different, if you end up breaking it two weeks later?

Some experts suggest that those making resolutions stop thinking of it in terms of a short fix. Instead of making a resolution to lose 25 pounds, learn to eat healthier and start an exercise routine.

Instead of quitting smoking cold-turkey, try going through a smoking cessation program to get the help and support needed to help you stop smoking for good.

Like anything else, if you’re not ready to change, there’s really no point in trying until you are. When it’s time to change, you’ll know. You’ll become painfully aware that your habit is disrupting your life and want to do something about it.

Besides, there is nothing written that says you have to make a resolution. Take a look at your life. If you think things are great the way they are, there’s no need to change. But if you envision your life to be better than what it is, you should at least look at what’s not working and consider the possibility of change.

Some resolutions tend to keep their popularity year after year. Below are the top New Year’s resolutions for 2017. Will they be yours in 2018?

1. Lose Weight / Healthier Eating                          21.4%
2. Life / Self Improvements                                    12.3%
3. Better Financial Decisions                                   8.5%
4. Quit Smoking                                                          7.1%
5. Do more exciting things                                       6.3%
6. Spend More Time with Family/Friends            6.2%
7. Work out more often                                            5.5%
8. Learn something new on my own                     5.3%
9.  Do more good deeds for others                         5.2%
10. Find the love of my life                                      4.3%
11. Find a better job                                                  4.1%
12. Other                                                                    13.8%

*Information Courtesy of


Be Safe this Halloween

The Hiawatha community held its last Farmer’s Market for the Year Oct. 29, which coincided with its Fall Festival. A costume contest, sponsored by Hi-Crew Kiwanis, a bouncy house, and trick or treating at the market, were also held to celebrate Halloween.

Though there were a lot of great costumes, the Fire Fighter, Dalmatian puppy, and the fire truck built from a stroller won the Most Original costume, which was presented by Hiawatha Fire Chief, Mike Nesslage.

Hiawatha Fire Chief, Mike Nesslage, presented the Most Original Costume Oct. 29 at the Fall Festival, during the last Hiawatha Farmers Market of the year.

The following tips are a few reminders on how to stay safe this Halloween!

Trick or Treating Safety Tips from the CDC

The Center for Disease Control and prevention has compiled a list of safety tips that parents should share with their children before they go out Trick or Treating on Halloween night:

  • Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
  • Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  • Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
  • Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
  • Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.
  • Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks wherever possible.
  • Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
  • Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
  • Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision problems, trips, and falls.
  • Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
  • Enter homes only if you are with a trusted adult. Only visit houses that are well-lit. Never accept rides from strangers.
  • Never walk near lit candles or luminaries while wearing a costume. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

The meteorologist forecasts the night to be chilly, so be sure to dress warm!

Have a Safe and Happy Halloween!


Hiawatha Fire Fighters Keep Community Safe

Hiawatha’s annual “Battery Up” day will be held Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 am to 12 pm. The Battery Up program is open to anyone in Hiawatha. 

According to Hiawatha Fire Chief, Mike Nesslage, firefighters will branch out across Hiawatha to help residents replace smoke detector batteries.

 “We provide assistance to those who can’t reach their smoke detectors. We also check the detectors and do a quick safety check. Approximately 2,000 people die in fires every year; most of them in homes without working smoke detectors.”

It’s important to have a working smoke detector on each level of your home, and in every bedroom, said Nesslage.

“A working smoke detector, along with an escape plan, drastically improves your chance of surviving a fire.”

Smoke detectors should be tested monthly, the battery replaced annually, and detectors should be replaced every 10 years.

“It’s important to have an exit, or escape plan for your home and to communicate it with the people you live with. That plan should have two ways out and should account for helping young children that may live with you. 

Nesslage said a closed door can slow a fire spread and protect you if there is a fire. 

“We encourage people to close their doors at night.  Should a fire occur, the closed door will separate you from the smoke giving you time to wake and think before acting.  If trapped, a closed door can separate you from the fire.”

Hiawatha Firefighters will also be busy visiting Hiawatha and Nixon Elementary schools, where they teach the kids about smoke detectors and escape plans. 

“Dozens of kids will visit the fire station, and we will be out in the community doing fire extinguisher demonstrations for local businesses.”

According to Nesslage, the Hiawatha Fire Department was recently presented with a Life Safety Award for their fire prevention accomplishments in 2016 by the National Association of State Fire Marshals Fire Research and Education Foundation in partnership with Grinnell Mutual.

“The Life Safety Award has recognizes local fire prevention efforts that have contributed to reducing the number of lives lost in residential fires.” He said. “We are one of 160 departments from across the United States that received the award for 2016. In most cases it was presented to departments that reduced fire deaths by 10%. In our case, we were recognized for our active and effective fire prevention programs as well and a clear commitment to reducing the number of house fires in the community.

“The award would not be possible without the strong support of the members who support programs ranging from Touch-a-Truck and library story time, to smoke detector checks and home visits.  We touch well over 1,000 people through our events every year.”

Sign-ups for the Battery Up program can be done by email to Chief Mike Nesslage at, or calling 319-393-4180.

Tanda Naturals Makes Being Healthy Affordable

Tana Studt believes being healthy shouldn’t have to be expensive. That is why she offers her health and beauty products at a price everyone can afford, while taking care of the environment, too.

Tana and her sister-in-law started Tanda Naturals in 2014. They were helping with her mother-in-law with her business, when they decided to go into business for themselves.

“We both knew a lot about natural products from helping my mother-in-law, and I thought it would be a great way to make extra money,” said Tana.

The two women started out selling their products at the Hiawatha Farmer’s Market, and branched out to the Cedar Rapids Downtown Market.

“I was hesitant to try it, because it was intimidating, with so many people, but I decided to just go ahead and do it,” she said. “We signed up that first year in April, which is considered a little late, but were lucky because a few people vendors backed out. We’ve been doing the farmers market every weekend during the summer since.”

Tana, who lives in Hiawatha with her husband, Alex, and two children, said that though Tanda Naturals offers a variety of products, two particular items seem to take turns at being the most popular.

“Our magnesium lotion and deodorant are the best-sellers,” she said. “Of course, everything we sell is 100% natural and does not contain any synthetic ingredients or fragrances.  We have a lot of other items that are popular, but those are the two biggest selling items.”

Tana started Tanda Naturals with just a few products, and now covers several shelves in her kiosk at the farmers market with her essential oils and sprays, bath bombs, natural cleaning products, magnesium lotion, all-natural lotion bars, natural eye and face creams, Ouchie Salve, Burn Out! Sunburn spray, Quit Buggin’ Me – natural bug spray and much more.

When Tana isn’t helping her customers at the farmers market, she is helping her clients at Benefits Solutions in downtown Cedar Rapids.

“I enjoy helping people,” she said. “Whether it’s at work, or helping people stay healthy, it’s what I love to do.”

Tana said the markets can be a lot of work, but said she can always count on her husband and daughter, Brooklynn, to help out.

“Alex is instrumental in helping with all of the market and vendor shows, along with making several of the products, and Brooklynn helps man the booth at every market, so I get a lot of help,” she said.

The last three Downtown Farmers Markets will be held Aug. 26, Sept 2 and 16.

For more information, call Tana at (319) 431-254 or email her at A complete list of products can be found on Tanda Naturals’ website.


Little Free Pantry Helps Ease Food Insecurity

“Take a book, leave a book,” is the premise behind the Little Free Library concept.

But one little girl, who was returning a book she borrowed to a local Little Free Library, saw an even greater possibility.

“Wouldn’t it be great if there were things like this with food in them?” Annabelle, 7, told her mom.

Annabelle’s mom, Heather Spangler, got to work right away to see her daughter’s vision become a reality.

With the help of the Hiawatha Public Library, Home Depot, Hy-Vee, the University of Iowa Community Credit Union, and the Northeast Cedar Rapids Mom’s Club, four Little Free Pantries recently opened, with the intent to ease food security in those communities.

But this was not the first time Annabelle had come up with an idea to help others in need.

Annabelle was only 4 when she opened her Christmas presents and observed, “Mom, we have so many toys and there are kids who don’t have enough.”

Annabelle reached out to her friends, gathered the toys they no longer played with, and then donated to kids in need.

Heather saw the joy helping others brought to her little girl, and her friends, and created Kid-Powered Kindness, a Facebook page dedicated to spreading acts of kindness. Every year since, Heather, Annabelle, and their friends have completed a new project that benefits the community in some way.

According to Heather, Kid Powered Kindness is driven by the philosophy that kids can make the world a better place.

“The kids are the ones who come up with the projects,” said Heather. “I just help them figure out how to do it.”

Projects Kid Powered Kindness has completed include collecting books to promote literacy and collecting items that help the Humane Society care for animals in need of adoption.

According to Hy-Vee’s communications director, Kristy Stake, Hy-Vee donates $5 million annual to help those with food insecurity, and plans on continuing to help stock the pantries at their locations.

Hiawatha’s mayor, Bill Bennett, who was also on hand to help dedicate the Little Free Pantry, said he was amazed that a little girl can make such a difference in her community.

“She saw a need in the community and did something about it,” he said. “We could all learn something from her. “Every step we take is a step closer to making things better, for everyone.”

Donations for the Little Free Pantry are always welcome and appreciated.

Hiawatha Offering Free Fitness Classes

Fitness enthusiasts take advantage of the free Zumba class March 9 at the Hiawatha Community Center. Photo by Cynthia Petersen

Time is running out to try Zumba for free at the Hiawatha Community Center.

April 13 is the last time Zumba, an aerobic fitness program inspired by various styles of Latin American dance, will be offered at the center, 101 Emmons Street in Hiawatha. The last Zumba class will be held Thursday, April 13 at 5:30 pm.

According to several Zumba enthusiasts, the great thing about Zumba is that you don’t have to know how to dance to join in. “The important thing is to keep moving and have fun.”

Hiawatha Parks and Recreation director, Kelly Willadsen, said the city has been offering a variety of fitness activities to the community the past year, including yoga and Zumba, which the community can try for free.

“Not many people know what Zumba is so we thought why not give people the opportunity to see what it is about free of charge and maybe they will continue after our classes here,” said Willadsen. “Brooke Lentz does a great job and we have been impressed by the numbers we have seen over the last two months. We definitely hope to have her back next year.”

Brooke Lentz, Public Relations and Event Coordinator for Pat McGrath, is a certified Zumba instructor and leads the 30-minute class at the center. She became certified during a 1-day training session in Indianola last year, she said, simply because she loves to dance.

“I was in dance classes and show choir in middle school and high school. I was on the dance team my freshman year in college and the cheerleading squad my junior year at Wartburg College, as well. During the training we learned basic steps for four different rhythms: merengue, salsa, cumbia and reggaeton. My favorite is the reggae! The music is unbeatable. Zumba creates a community and make fitness exciting.”

Lentz said she was approached by Willadsen to lead a Zumba class once a month for the first four months of the year.

“I could not turn the opportunity down because city officials wanted to provide free fitness to the community. Amazing!”

Lentz also leads a weekly class for employees at the McGrath Fitness Center.

For more information, visit the city’s website at or the Hiawatha Parks & Recreation Facebook page.

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

By Cynthia Petersen

The winter months can seem much longer than they really are. Instead of three months, winters in Iowa can feel like six.

And though our instinct is to hibernate until spring, one of the ways we can pass the time is to stay active and have fun. Fortunately, our community has plenty of opportunities for both.

AirFx Trampoline Park, 1100 N. 18th Ave., Hiawatha has great deals that include Twofer Tuesdays & Thursdays (buy one hour of jump time for $10 and get one hour for you or for someone else for free) and Wednesday Family Night, which includes 1 hour of jump time for 4 people; 8 Lazer Frenzy tokens, 1 pizza, and 4 Icees or fountain drinks, all for $39.

SkyZone, 5515 Council St NE, Cedar Rapids, offers similar deals, including Jumpapalooza Friday and Saturday nights from 8 to 10 pm. You can also get a two-hour, all-access pass to everything Saturday nights. Try out the Open Jump, SkySlam, Ultimate Dodgeball, and much more.

Potters’ Obsession, 1941 51st Street NE, is a great place to let your creativity run wild. Pick out a piece of unfinished pottery to design and paint it any way you’d like. There is a modest charge for use of materials, as well as the pottery piece. It is great for birthdays and other group activities.

Hiawatha Parks & Recreation is hosting several upcoming activities at the Hiawatha Community Center, 101 Emmons Street, including cooking and exercise classes, crafts, and movies. (See upcoming activities in this issue)
The community center also offers activities for seniors, including dancing, Bingo, and a book club.

There is more to the Hiawatha Public Library, 150 W. Willman Street, than just books! They also offer programs for children and adults. Events for the entire family include Family Fort Night, Roll Over and Read, and Yoga Story Time, among many others. Visit the library’s Facebook page for more information.

Twisters Gymnastics, 4625 Tower Terrace Road, has an open gym where kids can play on the trampolines, balance beams, ropes and vaults. The open gym is held Sundays 12-2 pm for kids 5 and older for $8 each. An open gym for toddlers and their parents is available Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 am to 12 pm for $5. All who participate are required to complete a waiver before attending.

Turn back time and watch a movie Tuesdays at the Galaxy 16 Theatres, 5340 Council St NE, for just $5! Become an exclusive member and get a free popcorn! However, special events and 3D movies are not included.

Beat the mid-week blahs with a fun game of Bingo at the American Legion Post 735, 207 Robins Road. Doors open every Wednesday at 5 pm, with the games beginning at 6:30. Drinks and snacks are available for purchase.

The Play Station, 200 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids, offers a Family Fun Night Thursday Nights with a $5 admission, as well as a deal on tokens and dinner. Deals include 40 tokens for $5 and a pizza package for $19.99, which feeds a family of 4.

Planet X Fun Center is fun anytime, but even better when it’s for a good cause! Planet X is hosting a fundraiser that will benefit Nixon Elementary School Feb. 9 from 5-8 pm.

The admission price of $10 per person includes unlimited pizza, soda, miniature golf, rock climbing, indoor playground, Space Ball, Jump Shot, and bumper cars, as well as 1 round of laser tag. Half of all ticket sales for the evening will go to Nixon Elementary.

Adults need to lift their spirits during the winter months, too, which is why Prairiewoods Franciscan Spiritual Center is conducting a Winter Film Series. The movie, Samsara, will be held Sunday, Jan. 29, from 2-4 pm. This non-verbal film will take you on a visual journey through the interconnection of all life. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, Samsara explores sacred grounds, industrial sites and natural wonders.

A free-will offering to help establish permaculture landscaping at Prairiewoods will be accepted at the door.

The February movie will be Divided We Fall, a story of combating hate with love and unyielding optimism. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, a college student journeyed across America with a camera and captured stories of hate and healing in the Sikh American community. The movie will be held Feb. 26 at 2 pm.
A variety of workshops and retreats are also available and more information can be found at

With so many fun things to do this winter, you won’t have time to think about how cold it is. And who knows? Maybe the groundhog won’t see his shadow, which means we can plan on an early spring.