March 2024 Volume 34; Issue 6

You can view the complete newsletter here.

 

From the Executive Director's Desk

As I’m writing this March newsletter, the sun is shining and my office window is open! The fresh air and sound of chirping birds helps calm the nerves as we patiently wait for the Award Notice on our Child Care Resource & Referral competitive grant application. We are also patiently waiting for the federal budget to be passed and are hopeful this will take place soon. Not having final appropriations makes it difficult to budget for many of our programs.

March is the first month of the Head Start/Early Head Start contract year and staff are working diligently on recruitment for the 2024-25 school year. Staff are also busy preparing for the Federal Focus Area 2 monitoring review. We have been notified the review will take place during the week of April 22nd. Thank you to our Head Start Management Team and all Head Start/Early Head Start employees for all your time and effort to prepare for the review. I am confident we will have a successful review!

The Continuing Resolution has made it difficult for the LiHEAP program to determine final appropriations. Approval has been received to continue to take applications through the end of April. This is beneficial for families as the moratorium (protection from disconnection of heating service) ends April 1st.

Our monthly WIC participation numbers continue to be above average from last fiscal year. The FY’25 WIC application has been released and the Maternal Health application should also be released soon.

Due to various interruptions and several meetings from the time I started writing this newsletter article, it is now six hours later and unfortunately, the sun is no longer shining. However, we have a lot of shining faces and smiles in the building as we were notified that Mid-Sioux was selected as the successful bidder for all 5 Child Care Resource & Referral applications that were submitted:

  • Region 1 Child Care Resource and Referral Services
  • Statewide Professional Development Coordination
  • Statewide Communication and Marketing
  • Statewide Behavioral Health Coordination
  • Pilot Child Care Center Director Training Program

A HUGE shout-out, THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS to Melissa Juhl and all of the Child Care Resource & Referral staff! We are fortunate to have all of you on our Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc. team!

Speaking of our Mid-Sioux team, March 1st is designated as Employee Appreciation Day! Unfortunately, it’s not possible to get all employees together to show our appreciation but I do want to acknowledge our great group of staff and thank them for their dedication to Mid-Sioux! We are fortunate to have a great team to help us fulfill our mission of “Helping People. Changing Lives”. Thank you to each and every one of you!

Cindy Harpenau
Executive Director

 

Housing/Energy Services

With many bittersweet memories, this will be my final newsletter that I will need to prepare. My retirement date is set for May 3, 2024. Ever since I started working at Mid-Sioux (45 years ago) as the Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program (LiHEAP) secretary, I’ve had nothing but positive memories.

I appreciate the professional opportunities I’ve been given throughout my career, such as being promoted to Weatherization Director and then again to Housing/Energy Services Director. The most challenging and rewarding job task was writing grants for two low-income apartment complexes, receiving both grants, and being the general manager over the completion of those projects.

Above all, I will truly miss my coworkers, contractors, board members, vendors, and other state-wide friendships I have made. It will always make me smile at all the fun times we have had together! 

Now, back to work priorities:

LiHEAP: Funding for 2024 is still under the continuing resolution with congress. LiHEAP always receives 90% of the previous year’s base funding level of $4 billion because of the nature of the program. Utility payments need to go out sooner than the budget can be resolved. Word has it that congress will pass final FY24 budget by March 22, 2024.

This graphic is an interesting look at previous funding. "Covid" made a huge impact on the increase funding for a couple years. FY24 will probably stay at the $4 billion mark.

Weatherization: Mid-Sioux completed 41 homes in FY23. The number seems small but it takes 3-4 months to complete one home. Much time and effort are put into each home we weatherize.

I am so proud of our contractors. They are some of the best in the state. It’s always a pleasure to go out to the homes we weatherize because the work is top-notch. Makes me want to boast to anyone that will listen that they are Mid-Sioux’s contractors!

Funding for the program is stable at this time. In fact, it’s great! With the additional 5-year Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act grant money, we are able to continue weatherizing many more homes in our area. (The President signed this bill into law on November 15, 2021. Iowa received $44,904,534 and Mid-Sioux’s share of that is $1,266,528. Our goal is to spend our share and then get additional money that other agencies are unable to spend.)

Crisis: Many thanks to all the businesses and persons who generously donated to our crisis funds at Christmas and other times during the year. In FY23 we were able to assist 626 households with utility assistance and 191 households with rent assistance. 

Embrace Iowa: One of my favorite programs is this one! The Des Moines Register operates the Embrace Iowa campaign at Christmas-time. They raise emergency funds for low-income families through-out all of Iowa. This past year, Mid-Sioux received $23,829 and was able to assist 33 households with emergency needs that Mid-Sioux generally isn’t funded for from other federal, state, or local resources.

Payments were made for:

  • 5 Beds/Mattresses
  • 17 Car Repairs
  • 5 Medical Bills
  • 7 Appliances
  • 1 Funeral Expenses

Disaster: Governor Kim Reynold issued a disaster proclamation for Sioux county in response to severe weather that occurred on August 4, 2023. Mid-Sioux was able to assist 18 households with a lot of basement repairs and cleaning expenses caused from the flooding.

I am hereby passing on my song, "Good Morning to You," to Shannon Hoffman because I believe she enjoyed my singing skills the most!!??

Working here has truly been an honor. Although leaving will be hard, I’m excited to spend more time with my family and hitting a few rounds of golf. My goal is to get better at the game than Kendra Rensink!!

 

Outreach

Hello from your Sioux County Outreach!

As we get closer to spring, we are closer to the end of LiHEAP for the 2023/24 season. LiHEAP ends on April 30th, so we are still able to take applications until then. If you know of someone needing assistance, please have them call our office at 712-722-3611 to set up a time to apply.

We have been taking applications for Early Head Start/Head Start for this coming fall. Early Head Start is for expectant mothers through age 3 and Head Start is for ages 3 and 4. We have Head Start classrooms in Orange City, Rock Valley, Sioux Center and CDC in Hawarden in Sioux County. If you know of any families that could benefit from their child attending one of these, please send them to our Sioux County office at 618 14th St. NE, Sioux Center or they can call us at 712-722-3611.

Our food pantry stays steady. With the high cost of groceries, we continue to see people struggling to be able to provide food for their family. Over the winter, we had stable monetary, food, and hygiene donations. We hope to keep that going. We are always looking for a business, church or organization that hasn’t partnered with us yet to get them on board to set up a food drive. We have recently received a grant for a new industrial fridge. It has given us a lot more room to have more cold and frozen food for our clients.

Pool passes have started to become popular again. To be eligible, you have to either live in Sioux Center or have your child attend a Sioux Center school. The pass is to the All-Seasons Center and you are able to sign up for a pool pass, ice pass or both for a reduced rate.

Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have for any of our programs in Sioux County.

 

Human Resources

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

  • Classroom Aide/Bus Monitor - Cherokee, Head Start
  • Classroom Aide (20 hours per week) - Rock Valley, Head Start
  • Energy Services Coordinator - Remsen, Hybrid/Remote Possible, Weatherization/Energy Services
  • Financial Management Consultant - Linn/Black Hawk Counties, Remote, Child Care Collaborative of Iowa
  • Financial Management Consultant - Polk County, Remote, Child Care Collaborative of Iowa
  • IQ4K Specialist - Hybrid/Remote, Child Care Resource & Referral
  • Team Leader/Teacher - Cherokee, Head Start
  • Teacher - Le Mars, Early Head Start

 

Resource Requests

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

 
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MidSioux

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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