I have not written anything for a while, primarily because Joan and I have been doing quite a bit of traveling. I have written quite a number of pieces with the theme "Reflections on 50 years" as this year we have been celebrating both 50 years of marriage and 50 years in Forest City. Up to this point my primary focus has been on the 1970s. I will return to that topic and pick up at least initially with thoughts on my 38 years at Winnebago Industries.
But for now I want to take a time out and talk about the work of the Forest City Education Foundation.
I am going to be candid and tell you I would like to see broader support of our work from the community. The work we are doing is vitally important for what I have often referred to as our most valuable asset, our young people.
Rather than making a case for our work, I want to share with you the stories of three of our recent graduates. Their stories make a more convincing case for the value of our work than I ever could.
Here is our first graduate story -
Chris Jermeland graduated from Forest City High School in 2018.
He is truly an All-American kind of guy, who participated in just about everything in high school. He was well-liked and respected by teachers and his peer group alike.
Chris had the dream of attending Iowa State University, but the financial situation of himself and his family was such this was just not possible. So, he was planning to start at a community college. But then came senior awards night, sponsored by our foundation. He received a multitude of scholarships totaling many thousands of dollars made possible by gifts from you, our donors.
Chris said, "Without your help, I would not have been able to attend Iowa State and would have missed out on so many opportunities that have been enriching for me."
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Chris is majoring in elementary education, with an endorsement in special education and reading. Chris' sister, Michelle was born with special needs and Chris said she has had a larger impact on his life than anyone else. She is now a sophomore in high school.
Chris said his sister has given him a bigger heart for children, who face the same disabilities as her. He said he feels blessed he will have the opportunity to impact the lives of other young children, like Michelle, and help mold them into strong people who will eventually contribute in some way to society.
While at Iowa State, Chris has worked at Ames Community Preschool Center and at multiple Ames Community Elementary Schools, who have a program similar to what the YMCA offers after school.
This has allowed him to gain valuable experience in the field of child caregiving. He actively participates in SALT, a campus ministry program, and has been able to lead a group of college freshman in a connection group that meets weekly.
Chris said this has allowed him to watch young men grow in their faith and he has seen his own faith take strides he did not believe imaginable.
He thanks the Forest City Education Foundation and its donors for allowing him to have the Iowa State experience.
Chris said, "Forest City provides us not just with a home, but with a family. I just want to thank you guys again. Thank you to the past, present and future donors for everything that you have done for the community and its young people. You have and will continue to change the lives of so many young adults. I hope one day I will be able to give just as much back to the community as you guys of done for me."
Next week, I will share Logan Hall’s story.