January 2023 Volume 34; Issue 4

You can view the complete newsletter here.


From the Executive Director's Desk

Happy New Year! 2024: a new year with many new beginnings, that’s for sure! As I’m writing my first newsletter as Executive Director, I’ve experienced a mixture of emotions since December 29th, when Dick Sievers shared his final words of wisdom and officially retired. There definitely weren’t enough hours in the day to capture his years of expertise and wealth of knowledge! However, with the years of expertise and the wealth of knowledge that our Project Directors have, TOGETHER, we will learn and we will move forward with the many opportunities and challenges that we will encounter.

This past week has been a challenge as we were hit hard with the winter weather! This makes it difficult for staff as decisions have to be made to close classrooms, cancel WIC clinics, and reschedule numerous meetings. The frigid temperatures also make it difficult for our families with the increased fuel/utility costs.

Congress passed a third continuing resolution for fiscal year 2024 to avoid a government shutdown. While this makes it difficult for the agency to budget under these continued short-term funding bills, it will allow Congress time to continue the negotiating process that’s needed to pass the full-year appropriations bills.

The Iowa Health & Human Services has released the Service Delivery Alignment Assessment Report. The 193-page document provides recommendations for changes to current service delivery practices based on approaches implemented in other states. We will follow this closely as the proposed recommendations are considered and decisions are made on how to move forward.

During the month of December, budget requests were made to local governments for the new year. These funds are important to us as they support the Outreach services we are able to provide in the five-county service area. We appreciate the support that is provided to us by the local governments.

The past month has been busy for Mid-Sioux Outreach staff as they wrapped up numerous Holiday projects! Thank you to Laura Benson and our Outreach staff for all the support they provided to families this past Holiday Season. Also, thank you to the donors who helped make these projects possible!

A huge shout-out and "thank you" to Melissa Juhl, the CCR&R staff, and the fiscal department for all their time working on the competitive Child Care Resource & Referral RFP (Request for Proposal). Competitive applications can be very stressful and labor-intensive! Melissa and her staff did an excellent job of showcasing Mid-Sioux’s past successes in the Child Care world and at the same time discuss how Mid-Sioux is the agency that can continue this success in the upcoming years.

This week, the FaDSS (Family Development & Self-Sufficiency) programs across the state will be visiting the capital to visit with legislators to raise awareness about the FaDSS Program and the positive impact it has on our communities. I’m looking forward to meeting with our legislators and learning more about the 2024 legislative session.

Lastly, I would like to thank the Project Directors, Mid-Sioux Board members, and Mid-Sioux staff for their patience and guidance as I transition into the Executive Director position. Even though I’ve worked at Mid-Sioux for 30 years, over the past three weeks, I can definitely relate to the Albert Einstein quote, “The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know”. 

Cindy Harpenau
Executive Director


Head Start/Early Head Start

Free Preschool Programs for your 3 & 4 year old. Centers are located in Akron, Cherokee, Ida Grove, LeMars, Orange City, Rock Rapids, Rock Valley and Sioux Center. A Child Development Center is located in Hawarden.

Click the picture to go to our webpage for more information and to apply.


Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program

The Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LiHEAP) is a federally-funded program designed to assist low-income families to meet the cost of home heating by providing a one-time payment to the heating utility.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this program and who qualifies, visit our webpage for more information.


Ida County Outreach

Each January, Outreach Staff breathe a sigh of relief that holiday activities are done for the next ten months! Every year, to ensure families needing extra assistance have a happy holiday season, staff put a lot of time and energy into seasonal programs from October through December.

Staff begin the holiday process in October by sending letters to Mid-Sioux clients on the lower end of the income scale to see if they are interested in being sponsored for the holidays. At that same time, letters are also sent out to potential sponsors. These sponsors include individuals, church groups, businesses, schools, and other community groups. Generally, staff send these letters to individuals and groups who have sponsored in the past - but we are always looking for new sponsors! After receiving responses from clients and sponsors confirming their interest, staff begin matching them up. Families are then informed they will be sponsored and sponsors are sent participating client/family information. Client names are never given out, but the sponsors do receive the ages and genders of all family members, along with the clothing sizes and each individual's interests. Each sponsor does things a little differently - some sponsors provide gift baskets for families, while others provide individual gifts.

If you didn’t have the chance to sponsor this year and would like to get on the list for next year, please give us a call at: (712) 786-3483.  

This year in Ida County, 165 Individuals in 42 Households were assisted with gifts. We truly would not be able to do this project without the help of so many community partners. We appreciate each and every one of them! Along with the many sponsors, the Ida Grove Kiwanis and Dollar General Store assisted with a very generous donation of toys! Pictured below are some of the donations we received in Ida County this year. 

The Ida Grove office is open on Thursdays from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM in the basement of the courthouse. You can contact us at: (712) 364-2175 or (800) 859-2025 any other day of the week. We are still taking applications for heating assistance and will soon be taking applications for Head Start/Early Start for the 2024-2025 school year.    


Human Resources

We are hiring! (click link to visit our website and apply today)

  • Weatherization Director - Remsen
  • Financial Management Consultant - Child Care Collaborative of Iowa Linn & Black Hawk Counties/Remote
  • IQ4K Specialist - Child Care Resource & Referral Hybrid/Remote
  • Team Leader/Teacher - LeMars, Early Head Start
  • Classroom Aide/Bus Monitor - Cherokee, Head Start
  • Classroom Aide (20 hours per week) - Rock Valley, Head Start
  • Cook, Cherokee, Head Start
  • WIC Professional (32-40 hours/week) - Remsen
  • Breast Feeding Peer Counselor (16-18 hours per week) - Remsen, WIC

Recently, I was sitting in a waiting room flipping through a magazine and came across an article about character. Specifically, the character growth the author was seeking in the new year personally and professionally. She talked about the importance of not only having personal, but also professional new year's resolutions.

To be quite honest, I've never considered having a professional resolution. Sure, I've had professional goals, but I've never considered the value of instilling a new year's resolution in my professional life. Many of us start off the new year hoping to lose a few pounds, eat healthier or travel more. Rarely do I hear about someone's professional goals at the beginning of the year (and I certainly have never set a professional resolution myself).

Needless to say, the article caught my attention, so I read on. The author decided she wanted to focus on her own character growth in 2024. She talked about integrity, honesty, responsibility and humility. She highlighted each of these characteristics with quotes that inspired her, thus inspired me. These were also traits we look for in new and current employees - traits that show character and a passion for the valuable work we do in helping others.

When we have supervisors, coworkers and staff who show integrity, honesty and responsibility, we trust them. We trust they will help us, we trust they will get their tasks done. We trust they will take care of their clients or kiddos to the best of their abilities, and we feel a general sense of job satisfaction because we can count on those around us.

So, in an effort to inspire professional new year's resolutions, here are a few quotes I found that will hopefully encourage your own professional growth, in whatever field that may be:

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." – Socrates

"Good news fast, bad news faster."

"Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody's going to know whether you did it or not." – Oprah Winfrey


Resource Requests

Click the picture or visit this link to request Mid-Sioux resources!


Written by


Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc. is a not-for-profit Community Action Agency established in 1965 to fight poverty at a local level by assisting low-income families in Northwest Iowa to become self-sufficient.

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