Glimpses of community during a pandemic

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reischl ron 13-03-01s

Ron Reischl

Citizens from Carroll County and surrounding areas are proud of their communities — deservedly so. Here is my story: I swell with pride as I watch the Manning community respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. What do I see?

I see a local pastor offering words of spiritual comfort in a daily online message. I see a church offering to help the elderly and others obtain groceries because we don’t have a grocery store in town. The church discovers there isn’t a need because friends and neighbors are already helping those community members. I see an increase in demand at the Manning Food Pantry that serves the IKM-Manning School District, but the increase in donations far exceed the increase in demand.

I see an anonymous donor purchase $1,500 of Manning Chamber Bucks. They are distributed by the Manning Police Department in $25 increments to 60 households. I see an anonymous donor purchase more than $400 worth of pizzas that were distributed by BrickHaus Brews to employees and owners of downtown businesses for a lunch treat.

I see a junior high school student lead an initiative to fabricate face guards with a 3D printer for front-line personnel. School employees and others joined her in the efforts. I see college and high school students volunteering their time for the betterment of the community. I see a local teacher step forward and lead a very successful social media campaign for Main Street Manning.

I see community members and businesses providing Manning Regional Healthcare Center employees with donuts, flowers and BBQ lunches. Flowers and words of appreciation have been sent to Accura Healthcare and Manning Senior Living Center.

I see community members volunteering their time to help Ramsey’s Market stock groceries on the shelves. Starting Saturday, we will have a grocery store in town again!

I see a local resident create and install encouraging messages of gratitude and inspiration along Highway 141 and at the IOWA sign.

I see the Main Street Manning organization step forward in a true leadership role. Two board members called nearly every business in the downtown district (and beyond) to make sure business owners had access to grant applications and/or helped fill out the forms. They used the opportunity to survey their needs and concerns.

In a courageous fashion, Board President Linda Muhlbauer and Executive Director Jean Voege led multiple initiatives. Main Street businesses are in a cash-flow crunch. Main Street Manning established the Manning Cares gift certificate program. Twenty sponsors donated $8,400 to serve as a match to purchase the gift certificates. Gift certificates to 29 different businesses are available. Using the match, community members received a $30 gift certificate for $20. More than $22,000 has been distributed to the businesses. The program continues and is expected to surpass $25,000.

Main Street Manning organized a Drive-Thru Mother’s Day dinner. Cars lined up for blocks mid-day Mother’s Day to get a meal sourced from local restaurants. Two hundred and seventy-five meals sold out quickly. Free gift bags, with many goodies from local businesses, were provided to the first 100 moms. Main Street Manning took the opportunity to sell Manning memorabilia. Manning’s C3 (Christ, Community and Celebration) organization collected food items and money for the food pantry.

Main Street Manning’s Design Committee made 60-plus motivational posters for business owners to display in windows. Main Street Manning created a weekly newsletter (currently on issue 6) that provides business-related COVID-19 updates. It has been a valuable resource to business owners who are smothered and confused by dozens of COVID-19 press releases and webinars.

And while doing all this, Main Street Manning found time to raise more than $5,600 in the Giving Tuesday Now program. Monies will be used to continue initiatives for the business community and Manning residents.

The Manning Marketing Committee (with representatives from Main Street Manning, the Chamber, the Hausbarn and the City) put ongoing activities on hold to help businesses with the current crisis. The committee diverted $2,000 of city grant monies, with City Council approval, to develop and distribute videos to advertise businesses that are still open during this pandemic.

Some aspects of life continue normal activities. I see MRHC adding an adult and pediatric ENT to their list of providers. I see city and utility employees continuing with their normal work activities. I see Manning Municipal Utilities installing fiber optics throughout the entire town. I see people walking the streets and talking to others sitting on their front porch or working in their yards (while maintaining their social distance). I see the extensive trail system being used daily. I see a local resident purchase a property along Highway 141, tear down a house in disrepair, clean up the lot and plant grass seed — all in the interest of community betterment.

I see a community that is stronger together, that is truly refreshing. Yes, This is Manning, this is Iowa.

Ron Reischl is a Manning resident and the Business Improvement Committee chair of Main Street Manning.

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