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Celebration of Community

Updated: Wednesday, November 20 2013, 09:47 PM CST

They are the unsung heroes of any community who do so much that’s never seen or recognized.  That all changed last night in Cedar Rapids as more than 200 representatives from local non-profit groups came to Newbo for the first ever Celebration of Community.  A packed house at CSPS brought together volunteers and professionals who work non-stop, sometimes spending more time with families and children in need than they spend with their own.  Community Foundation CEO Les Garner says he is in awe of all they do to make the corridor a better place to live.  “I  can't imagine what life would be like here without the non-profit organizations .. they give us our arts and culture .. educate our young people they provide services to people who need a little bit of help  “


Even as that hard work was congratulated, a few blocks away you could find evidence that the efforts continue around the clock.  At the Ceramics Center Ben Jensen worked his pottery wheel swirling another hunk of wet clay into a remarkable work of art.  His organization works with adults and  school kids to enrich their lives culturally and artistically.  He’s part of a program that started in the late 1970s and parents sometimes come up to him and remark that their kids are now molding better lives the same way they did when they were involved in the program.  Ben adds that there’s  something very  therapeutic about the work for all ages.  “  There's something about clay that is engaging even for adults .. you get back into it and it gets back to mud pies .. there's something that feels very natural.  "


It’s just one example of so many caring people and so much great work by non-profits.  Garner says it can be challenging at times, but he’s encouraged by what he sees.  “  This is an incredibly generous community .. people are very much committed to being engaged themselves and they support that engagement with their dollars. “

Four special awards went to non-profit members Wednesday night .. including George Estle Tanager Place CEO, Deb Knake of Iowa Kids Net, Deanna Clemons-Petersen from the Museum of Art and a group called “The Classics,” who have a combined total of more than 300 years doing good work at the Cedar Rapids Public Library.  

Celebration of Community

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