That’s what friends are for

“Friends are the flowers in the garden of life,” is an old proverb that remains true today. We couldn’t get along without our friends to pitch in and help out from time to time.hiawathapic

Hiawatha residents know this, which is why the Friends of the Hiawatha Park and Friends of the Hiawatha Library groups were established.

Friends of the Library

The Friends of the Hiawatha Public Library is a volunteer organization dedicated to the support of the community’s library. Members include women and men who care about our community, provide access to information and technology, and encourage early childhood literacy

According to the Diana Flander, president of the Friends of the Library, the group raises funds for library activities not ordinarily covered under the library’s operating budget, such as child and adult programs

“Mary Mockler is our vice-president,” said Flander.  “Board members are Cindy Saur, Deb Leaming, Phyllis Jones, Erin Thomas, Jan Woods, and Nancy Anton-Jenson. Mary Mocklar serves as vice-president, Nina Lai is the treasurer, and Delaine Gall is the secretary.”

Flander said the main fundraiser is the group is the book sales.

“Phyllis Jones is in charge of the book sale room, where patrons can buy used books at inexpensive prices,” she said. “She has been doing an amazing job with the fundraising efforts,” said Flander.

Flander said she became involved with the Friends organization when Phyllis became sick.

“I could not believe all of the dedication she put into the upkeep and organization of not only books in the room, but also the books she sells online on our Friends Facebook page,” said Flander. “One of her finds was a Truman Capote signed 1st edition of “In Cold Blood” that generated over $400 in funds for the library.”

Some of the money raised by the Friends group goes to adult and children programs at the library, as well as library equipment, such as shelving and other items the board deems necessary.

“The librarians come to us with requests and the board votes how to spend the funds.”

The Friends of the Hiawatha Library will hold a fundraiser June 7 from 5-8 p.m. at Planet X, 4444 1st Ave NE, Cedar Rapids, next to Lindale Mall.

For $10, you have access to unlimited pizza and pop, mini golf, bumper cars, rock climbing, space ball, jumpshot, and an indoor playground. We will have balloon art, caricatures and face painting. And best of all, $5 of the ticket goes directly to the Hiawatha Library.

“Even if you do not have any little ones this is a good time to support the library and meet the board members,” said Flander. “We would love to meet you and listen to any ideas that you would like to see implemented at the library.”

Friends of the Hiawatha Library meets every third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m., which is always open to the public.

“We are always looking for new board members and volunteers to help out with sales. Most of the board members have been on the board for many years now. I am very impressed with their level of dedication to this very important part of our community.”

Friends of the Park

The Friends of the Hiawatha Parks and Recreation’s main function is to raise funds to support the needs of the Hiawatha Park and Recreation Department, “above and beyond what the city budget can provide,” according to vice chair, Liz Neff.

“Funds for this group originated through the net proceeds generated during the 2004 Hiawatha RAGBRAI stop,” said Neff, who is the former recreation coordinator for Hiawatha and remains a volunteer with Friends of the Park.

“These funds continued to grow throughout the years with the creation of a much smaller version of RAGBRAI, called HiBRAI (Hiawatha Bike Ride Around Iowa), a 2-3 day bike ride across Iowa. In 2008, the Park and Recreation Director thought there would be a better way for these funds to support the department, and the idea of establishing a ‘Friends group’ or foundation was explored.”

Neff said in 2011, bylaws and articles of incorporation were submitted for the “Friends of Hiawatha Park and Recreation.”

“This started the process of becoming an incorporated nonprofit organization. It was at this time that an independent board was created, to make determinations regarding the support of the Hiawatha Park and Recreation department.”

Friends of the Park has grown to 20-25 members, but the group often asks for additional volunteers throughout the year for different events, according to Neff.

“You don’t have to be resident of Hiawatha…anyone can become a member.  If anyone is interested in being a member of this group, please contact the Hiawatha Park and Recreation department. Being a member of the group is a great way to be a part in providing support to your community.”

The group supports the Memorial Day Bike Rodeo, the 2015 Hiawatha RAGBRAI stop, HiBRAI, Movies in the Square, and Playing for Keeps, the group’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

“The purpose of Playing for Keeps is to raise funds for a new summer camp concept, called Adventure Camp,” said Neff. “This camp offered summer activities for children ages 5 – 12. This camp fills a need in the community for families at an affordable rate, and offers children the ability to do community service, go on field trips, and be active in the summer months. Since this program would not fit in the city budget, it was decided the camp would be fully supported by this external fund. It was at that point the funds had a reason to have an official designation.”

This is the 6th year for the fundraiser, which will be held at the Hiawatha Community Center Saturday, Oct. 24 from 6-9 p.m., and include food, music, and a silent auction.

“It has been very rewarding for me to see this group grow to what it is today.”



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Write to the Point

As a writer, I have been conditioned to always be on the lookout for the next great story. But what I have found out, is that they are all great stories.

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