Sunday, December 27, 2020

We are Grateful that Pastor Christine Kaplunas Shared with Us

Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - Pastor Christine Kaplunas of the Unity Presbyterian Church in Waterloo, Iowa, gave a Thanksgiving message to our fellow Kiwanis Club. She has a God-given talented gift for the musical arts and uses it to support children. She gives free lessons to disadvantaged kids called “No Strings Attached” where she teaches violin and other stringed instruments. She wants to spread this special calling to children, so that she can show her gratitude for what God can provide  through her music teaching. God will provide benefits to all that love him.  Written by Lynn Barnes

What did the Kiwanis Rough Risers Do During the 2020 Pandemic?

What does a service club do in a pandemic time when their primary source of funding comes from selling delicious kettle corn at public events? 

The Cedar Falls Kiwanis Rough Risers club actively supports youth and community programs in the Cedar Valley through donations and service.  Local commercial sponsors have also provided a significant portion of the funds we donate to our community.  But this year's events have required rethinking our strategies for supporting our community. 

Donating Support: This year has been an eventful year. As people’s needs changed, we decided that it was necessary to revamp our budget to give more money to areas of need. We dedicated our club donations to:
  • Food Bank of Northeast Iowa
  • Salvation Army
  • Several childcare centers
Our club donated to the Cedar Falls Community Schools to purchase books and materials to help teachers meet the extra social and emotional needs of students under stress from Covid-19. 

We opened our own wallets and gave $1,400 in HyVee food cards to the tireless workers in the People’s Clinic for the amazing work they have done fighting Covid-19. 

Working with the Salvation Army, we raised and donated $1,400, plus needed household goods, to support a family that had lost everything.

Service Support: We built an outdoor shelter for the YMCA to provide activity space for kids with healthy fresh air.  This 20' x 20' shelter will be used to protect the many boys and girls who attend the YMCA during the summer.

We repaired a shelter for the Cedar Falls Recreation Department. Repairing this Pfeiffer Park structure is part of our Rough Risers' ongoing program to better the Cedar Valley

Though we were unable to pop much Kettle Corn, we still worked to help our community. When it is safe again, we hope to resume popping. In the meantime, we have a greater appreciation of the help we get from our sponsors, which enables us to Serve the Children of the Cedar Valley!

Thank You!

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Josh Sorenson Shares the Status of COVID Vaccines and How Health Insurance Affects Availability.

December 9, 2020
- Many people have the fear that one day they will be stuck on an elevator between floors with an insurance salesman trying to make them commit to buying needless insurance. Oh No! They should rest assured that Josh Sorenson of United Healthcare Insurance in Cedar Falls and his 8 other agents are not ones to be stereotyped as pushy as one would assume.

Mr. Sorenson informed the club of the latest COVID vaccinations and how they will probably be administrated and distributed. He had a personal connection with the pandemic since his grandmother had passed away from the disease. He described how his company offers a plethora of different kinds of policies to the public.
Written by Lynn Barnes

Monday, December 7, 2020

There's a Difference between Joining and Belonging . . . See How this Applies to Our Club

The IS a big difference between Joining and Belonging to our Rough Risers club.

Was just reviewing a presentation by Brad Boyd of Kiwanis International and found this page.  It is meaningful.

Belonging is an emotional experience and it is up to us to provide that emotional recognition and support that can help someone feel a sense of belonging - to our club, our school, our church, our neighborhood, or ?

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Elisa Heying explains how Allen Child Protection Center Saves Kids

Wednesday, November 11, 2020
- Elisa Heying, a nurse practitioner of the Allen Child Protection Center, helps abused children overcome being exploited. She assists with forensic interviews and services to support the mental health and the well-being of area children. She is also a child advocate and collects evidence for the authorities,  Elisa supports children in Northeastern Iowa including the Mason City area. When asked how she copes with job stresses she encounters every day, she said that vigorous workouts at the gym and her new comfort puppy give her needed stress relief.  Written by Lynn Barnes

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Chef Wes Zeitz Tells Us What it takes to Run a Restaurant.

What does it take to open and run a restaurant in Indianola, Iowa?  What'smore, how do you confront opening a business 2 weeks before the COVID shut down? Chef Wes Zeitz shared his many adventures at Z's Eatery and Draught.

Chef Z began by sharing his background and what motivated him to get into the restaurant business. He told us about their presence on social media on Facebook and showed one of his videos of his cook trying to eat their Monster burger which was as big as his head. 

Then he educated us about what it takes to run a restaurant.  He said that he was working 80 hours a week but as he has developed his team, he has been able to cut that down to only 55 hours.  The margins in a restaurant are very small and the key is planning. Labor and Food are his greatest expenditure and he works hard to support his employees and "buy the best food he can afford."  It's an on-going educational process. He is proud of their policy to cook fresh - "everything is made by hand from scratch."  Z's Eatery has a delicious menu for us to enjoy.

An exciting part was when he took us on a tour of Z's Eatery and Draught. The restaurant was filled with beautiful wooden handmade tables and the walls were covered by reclaimed wood slats from a barn in South Warren county.  He explained the policies they were using to provide the necessary social distancing to seat their patrons safely.

It was an informative visit and we are looking forward to the time when we can drive down to Indianola to enjoy their savory food.   Written by Leigh Zeitz

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Zoom into October's Amazing Roughrisers' Programs

Wednesday, October 7 - Business Meeting
Our club members get together to discuss what's happening now and make plans for the future.  We talk about projects, kettlecorn, finances, marketing and a plethora of potential possibilities  

October 14 - Enter the Kitchen of Z's Eatery in Indianola - Wesley Zeitz, Chef and Owner of Z's Eatery and Draught Haus

Chef Wesley Zeitz has invited us into Z's Eatery and Draught Haus in Indianola. He will share culinary tales from Burgers to Ribeyes and Pesto Alfredo to Planked Mahi Mahi. Beyond this, he will share tales of what it takes to open and operate a restaurant in midst of a pandemic. 

Wednesday, October 21 - Racism in our Own Backyard. Dr. Allen Hays, Iowa Action Justice Network
Dr. Hays will address racial inequality in policing, prosecution, and imprisonment in Iowa. In Iowa's prisons, 23% of the inmates are African American while only 4% of Iowa's population is black. This program will explore the reasons for this disparity and include interviews with leaders in the black community.

Wednesday, October 28 - Novel Ideas for Kiwanians to Serve the Community during a Pandemic.
Brad Boyd, Central USA Area Director, Global Operations for Kiwanis International.
Brad Boyd will join us from Indianapolis to tell us about how Kiwanis clubs are serving their communities around the world and share some ideas for projects in which we can engage to serve the Cedar Valley Community.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Leigh Zeitz Awarded the Hixson Fellowship Award for Service

Leigh and Kathy Zeitz
Leigh Zeitz (with wife Kathy) receiving the award.

Monday, September 14, 2020 - The Cedar Falls Rough Risers Kiwanis Club has given its highest award to Leigh Zeitz, honoring his years of work with Kiwanis helping the children of the Cedar Valley. Zeitz, who is an associate professor of Educational Technology at UNI, was given the George F. Hixson Fellowship award, and the Rough Risers donated $1,000 to Kiwanis International’s Children’s Fund in his honor.

Zeitz has been a member of the Rough Risers Club for 28 years.  He has served as president and built and maintains the club’s website at  He fully understands the mission of our club, which is “Serving the Children of the Cedar Valley,”  so he takes the initiative on many other projects.  For years he has raised money for the local Grin and Grow Daycare by riding RAGBRAI; he raised more than $15,000 over the 19 years he has ridden RAGBRAI.


Another of Zeitz’ favorites is the annual Gift of Giving, sponsored by the Jaycees and the Rough Risers.  About 100 needy children gather at the UAW hall and ride buses with adults (Jaycees, Rough Risers, and UNI volunteers) to Blain’s to purchase Christmas gifts for their family with money provided by the sponsors.  Then they return to the UAW Hall for pancakes and sausage prepared by the Rough Risers while Santa Claus mixes with the kids.  Santa looks suspiciously like Dr. Zeitz, we think. 


When we pop Kettlecorn (and we will again, when normal times return!) you can often find Zeitz as our lead salesman, explaining that the extra special taste of Kettlecorn is charity – the fact that all our profits go to local organizations helping children.  He also helps solicit our wonderful sponsors who double the money we raise. 


But during these past six months, Zeitz has been invaluable. When we were forced to cancel our in-person meetings, Zeitz put our meetings on Zoom.  Half of our members had never been on Zoom before but he taught us all.  He even arranged a fun joint meeting with another Kiwanis Club in Nebraska, also on Zoom.


Kiwanis Rough Risers meet each Wednesday morning at 6:45 by Zoom.  After a brief fellowship, we have a 30-minute program informing us about something interesting going on locally so we can be better-informed citizens of our community.  If you wish to be our guest at a meeting or join our club, please contact Jim Larson at


Written by Tony Reid

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Kelly Stern Shares Cedar Falls Public Library's Stories

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - Besides being the tallest building in Cedar Falls since it has the most stories, libraries, in general, are cool places to go and that is non-fiction!  Kelly Stern, the Director of the Cedar Falls Public Library, told us that she has wanted to be a librarian since she was in the 2nd grade.  
She got the literacy bug.  She has always wanted to share her love of reading with others.

The Cedar Falls Public Library is a busy place. It has had over 399,000 checkouts last year and there are many new services coming this year as well. They are not limited to the resources in the building but share the collections the Waterloo Public Library and other area libraries.  Libraries are the cornerstone of most communities, and we are fortunate to have a forward looking librarian like Kelly running our Cedar Falls Public Library.  Written by Lynn Barnes

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Staci Mueller Tells Us Tales of Tall Grasses

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - When I see tall grass at my home, I’m reminded that I fought the

lawn and the lawn won!  

Staci Mueller Outreach Coordinator of the Tall Grass Prairie Center at UNI explained that’s what Iowa has been for eons;  a virgin tallgrass prairie eco-system with fertile fields that were perfect for growing crops.  As the prairie was converted to agriculture, the farmers were able to feed the world with their produce.

Now there is a movement to return back a portion of the cropland, farmland, and roadway ditches to 75 native grasses.  The Tall Grass Prairie Center is experimenting with different seeds for research and restoration to develop stronger species to grow in harsher environments and show how it use to look in the Midwest hundreds of years ago.  These prairie plants are responsible for the rich cropland that farmers make their living on.  

Thank you Staci for all that you and your Center do to preserve our lands.

Written by Lynn Barnes

Here is a link to an 11-minute virtual tour of the Fall Prairie Walk

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Patrick and Sammi Helped Us Discover the Possibilities of Mosaic

August 11, 2020 - Some people with special needs have difficulty adapting to the environment of group homes and are prime candidates for alternative solutions.  The specialized community of Mosaic of Northern Iowa is available; to offer a different lifestyle for these individuals.  Patrick Costigan, Executive Director, and Sammi Scholtes, Community Relations Manager; gave insight into the inner workings of their caring organization.  Their clients live in their caregivers' homes, just like an actual family member.  It is easy for them to make friends, make a contribution to society, and have a meaningful day.  Mosaic cares for 120 individuals in Northeast Iowa - some living in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls vicinity.  This successful program has been around since 1913 and is a Lutheran faith-based organization.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Amy Davidson Gives the Lowdown on Hartman Reserve

Amy Davidson of the Hartman Nature Reserve gave an update on the strategies they have used to protect the participants against the pandemic. During the early summer, they limited their bulidings to registered summer camp and program participants.  

On July 1, they opened their building with limited hours and began to provide additional programs. They have Hannah Oksiania who is the visiting artist this year putting on a stellar kiddie program that include bird songs utilizing flutes that she mimics bird’s voices very well! 
 They are planning a fantastic Christmas lighting display this coming December at Hickory Hills Park. For the Kids they offer a Hunger Games Survival Camp and a Moonlight Paddle water fun. 

There is always the popular fishing, snowshoeing, and kayaking that are available at the Hartman Reserve for those looking for some awesome adventure fun in NE Iowa!

They are working to be careful and safe while supporting Cedar Valley's connection with nature.
Written by Lynn Barnes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Nick Newgard Tours his Second State Brewery in Cedar Falls

July 22, 2020 - Maybe it was the beer talking, but Nick Newgard, the owner and master brewer of the 2nd Street Brewing in Cedar Falls really loves his very own craft beer done here locally!  Nick discussed how his brewery worked and all the equipment he uses to produce his famous fermented beverage. 

Nick gave us a quick overview of the fine art of brewing and how it changes the end result; by adjusting the hops, water, yeast, grains, and even temperatures during the process.  It was interesting to see how a local business started up and thriving in tough times. Nick even talked about his future plans to keep his business successful.  Cheers to You!
Written by Lynn Barnes

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Christine Carpenter Takes Us on a Tour of their Garden

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 - Healthy Cedar Valley Coalition which helps build a healthy place for all populations to live grow and thrive. Christine Carpenter the co-founder and past president talked about their large garden that grows sweet corn to give to the local food bank. Also, they go on walks and pick up other kids along the way to school and to maximize health and well-being. Nikki Carrion who is the current president provides exercise sessions to area veterans and offers DVD yoga instruction to help with their balance and lung capacity at Pinecrest and classes at the Community Center.

Written by Lynn Barnes

Monday, June 22, 2020

Rough Risers Thank Peoples Clinic for their Support against COVID-19

Leigh Zeitz (Project Coordinator),
Augusta Sires (Peoples Community Relations Specialist)
and Jim Larson (Rough Risers President)
Monday, June 22, 2020 - Peoples Clinic, a non-profit health care clinic, has been helping people in Waterloo since 1976 but they really showed their commitment and dedication in their recent confrontation with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cedar Falls Kiwanis Rough Risers club recognized the critical care that Peoples Clinic has been providing for the people of Waterloo and they wanted to show them their gratitude.  The club joined together to write Thank You notes for all of the Peoples Clinic team and raise the money to provide 140 HyVee $10 gift cards as well. On Monday, June 22, Jim Larson (Rough Risers President) and Leigh Zeitz (Project Coordinator) met with Augusta Sires (Peoples Community Relations Specialist) to present their gift for the employees.

Since March, the Clinic has administered over 1300 COVID tests and they have given as many as 45 tests in one day. This outpatient clinic has gone through many changes to attend to their patients' needs. The Urgent Care room was converted into a respiratory clinic to better serve patients and protect the rest of the clinic. The lobby has been redesigned to provide adequate social distancing. All patients and staff are required to wear face masks. They are now using Telehealth systems to meet with patients virtually.

Beyond providing health care services during an intense and challenging time, there have been many instances when their staff has assisted patients with personal needs. Due to COVID-19-related supply shortages and financial hardships, they have provided patients with personal care items, toilet paper, and food. They are also holding a clothing and a school supply drive right now in order to continue taking care of their patients in the most comprehensive way possible.

The Peoples Community Health Clinic is dedicated to "providing access to affordable, compassionate, high-quality health care for all."  Our Kiwanis club thanks Peoples Clinic and our support of them aligns with our mission of "Serving the Children of the World."
Written by Leigh Zeitz and Augusta Sires

This story was covered in the Waterloo Courier:

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Nate Loenser Makes it to the Big Leagues

Wednesday, June 10 - "Doors will open when you work hard and treat people right."  These are the words of Nate Loenser who shared his life accomplishments with us today.  Nate is an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls but he began coaching basketball for the UNI Northern University High School in 2001. It's been a long road but he "never set a glass ceiling" for his accomplishments. He never took any day for granted.

Nate took us on his athletic journey as he played baseball, basketball, football, and golf in high school. Sounds like a typical high school athlete, but there was nothing typical about Nate because he was able to excel in these sports with a limb difference of having only one functioning arm.

Professionally, Nate followed his passion for basketball as a high school coach in Cedar Falls, Ames, and Spirit Lake. He coached basketball at the University of Southern Mississippi and Iowa State University.  In 2015, he became an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls - the team he had been rooting for all of his life. 

The most important part of Nate's presentation was when he shared his ideas about life and coaching. He has succeeded in life by never setting limits on himself nor the players he coaches. Nate views the foundation of successful coaching as building relationships with his players. He sees himself as a teacher who needs to help his players learn the "why" as much as the "what" of the game. Nate wants to make a difference in his players' lives.

Nate summed up his philosophy with a saying that guides his coaching:
     People will forget what you said.
     People will forget what you did.
     But People will never forget how you made them feel.

Nate made us feel hopeful and we look forward to watching him succeed and making a difference in players' lives.   Thank you, Nate.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Rough Risers Inter-Club w/Nebraska Dobytown Kiwanis Club

Virtual Meetings can be GREAT!!!

Now that many Kiwanis meetings are virtual, the sky is the limit for who can attend them. We have been fortunate enough to have Steve and Jane Harding join us from Tennesee on a weekly basis since we turned Zoom. We can even visit other Kiwanis
clubs in other states -  if we have the hankerin'.

Kiwanis Interclub is a program to promote interconnection between clubs.  In the past, it has involved members of one club driving over to another club's meeting to see what they are doing and make new friends. Kiwanis International even awards clubs with special points towards recognition if they engage in these visitations.  The last interclub that I took was when we visited the Greater Waverly Club at 6:45 on a Tuesday morning.

Now that we are virtual, we don't have to drive to the other club's meeting place.  We aren't limited to clubs within our locale. We can even CROSS STATE LINES for an interclub - if we have the hankerin'.

Finding the Club
Well, we had the hankerin'.  I visited the NE-IA Kiwanis District website and reviewed their list of Clubs with Virtual Meetings to find a club to visit.  While I was there, I found the Dobytown Kiwanis Club in Kearney, Nebraska.  I visited their website and found that they were quite similar to our Rough Risers.  They have been around 42 years - we've been here 40. They cook pancakes as a fundraiser - we pop kettle corn. They provide backpacks filled with school supplies for kids - we've done that too. They raise and donate a substantial amount of money to support their youth - we do too. They look like a great group of Kiwanians, well . . . goes without saying.

So, I decided to contact Gordon Roethemeyer, their president, to see about setting up a date. What a treat. Turns out that Gordon is an educator - me too. Dobytown Kiwanis club is filled with educators - so are we. Gordon was excited about setting up this virtual visit so we proceeded with plans to make it a reality.

It's Time
On Tuesday morning, May 19 at 7:30 AM, 40 Kiwanians hit the Zoom waves to experience Dobytown's weekly club meeting. Twenty-six Nebraskeners were present while 14 of us from Cedar Falls made the scene. Gordon began their meeting with the pledge, prayer, and announcements. He welcomed the Rough Risers and we began introducing our clubs to one another.  Gordon provided the background story for their club and our prez, Jim Larson, shared our story.  Gordon and his band of Kiwanians shared information about their fundraisers and community service projects.  Tony Reid shared about our kettle corn sales and Sue Loy explained how one of our main sources of income comes from sponsorship by generous merchants in the Cedar Valley. I shared stories about our community service projects. When asked, Nick Teig shared the story of our newspaper bin days and how we set the world ablaze with that project It was a fascinating 45 minutes.

Interesting Revelations

  • We purchased our kettle corn popper from a place in Nebraska and for a couple of years Nick Teig et al drove to Kearney to purchase bags of special popcorn kernels from a relative to one of the Dobytown members. 
  • While they live in Kearney, Dobytown is a nearby ghost town and they took the name because of the town's interesting history.
  • We "Feed the Pig" on a weekly basis. We have to pay $1 if it is we are celebrating our birthday, anniversary, were mentioned in the media, or want to share something that is happening in our life.  Dobytown "Stuffs the Bear" for basically the same reasons.

Where Do We Go from Here?
This was a wonderful visit. We found kindred spirits in Nebraska and would like to continue this connection. One member suggested that we become sister/brother/non-gender specific sibling clubs.  It was also suggested that we do this once every quarter (next time we invite Dobytown to visit us at 6:45 on a Wednesday). We might even find some projects that we can coordinate between us to support the kids throughout America.  Who knows? 

This was a wonderful experience. It was an opportunity that we would not have had if our clubs hadn't moved to virtual club meetings. We have made some new friends and we should continue this connection -
if we have the hankerin' . . . & WE DO!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Virtual Kiwanis Rough Risers are a BIG Success!!!

Cedar Falls Kiwanis Rough Risers online

Our Cedar Falls Kiwanis Rough Risers club held our first virtual club meeting this morning a 7:00.
This was an opportunity to meet with old friends and share what they have been doing over the past few weeks.

After the Zoom test drive that we took yesterday afternoon, our Kiwanians handled Zoom like experienced Zoomers.  President Jim Larson led the meeting - complete with Pledge of Allegiance and Prayer.  Leigh Zeitz managed the Zoom room at the beginning of the meeting.  He took the crew on a tour of Zoom's capabilities and they even dropped into breakout rooms for a few minutes to experience that small meeting capacity.

Steve and Jane
It was heartening to see that we had 22 members attend. We were pleasantly surprised to be visited by Steve and Jane Harding. 
Click here to watch the recording of our 7:00 Wednesday meeting.

The discussion ranged from Dean sharing video of 3" of snow in the Quad Cities to how people were dealing with 3 weeks of quarantine. Sounds like many of the undone odd jobs around the house have been completed.  People are spending more time with family both in-person and in periodic online sessions.

All-in-all, it was a positive experience and we decided that we would meet EVERY WEDNESDAY @ 7:00 AM. The cool part is that we will be able to continue with programs.  We just need to invite presenters who are comfortable with working in this virtual environment. The best part is that we won't be limited to the Cedar Valley.  We can invite speakers from anywhere in the world.

Have your Best Week Ever.  Remember that Social Distancing does necessarily mean Isolation.  Keep in touch with those who are important to you.

Originally, this article said that we will meet on Tuesdays. This is wrong.  WE MEET ON WEDNESDAYS

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Pioneers in Virtual Kiwanis Rough Risers Meetings.

I just wanted to celebrate the brave souls who joined us for our trial Zoom meeting this afternoon. This is where we had a chance to see our friends again, but also an opportunity to try out the Zoom system so that things will run smoothly tomorrow at our 7:00 AM meeting.

You will notice that some of our members were broadcasting from unique locations.  Dan is in San Francisco.  Leigh is in the middle of a Van Gogh masterpiece.  Dean is in some swirly green place - don't know where.

Well, we will know where we will all be tomorrow morning - in Zoom.   

See you there!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Our February Programs involve Feeding, Voting, and Schooling

Wednesday, February 5 - Business Meeting
Our club members get together to discuss what's happening now and make plans for the future.  We talk about projects, kettlecorn, finances, marketing and a plethora of potential possibilities  

Wednesday, February 12 - The Cedar Falls Food Coop is Almost Here.  Tom Wickersham, Director of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa
Tom Wickersham will talk about how the Cedar Falls Food Coop is nearing reality, considering locations, and choosing a new name.  Tom is President of the Coop Board; he is also Program Director of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa.

Wednesday, February 19 - 100th Anniversary for Women's Right to Vote. Sasha Wohlpart, Cedar Falls School Board. 
The Cedar Valley has Big Plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. Sasha Wohlpart will talk about those plans and how we are looking forward to continuing the push for equal rights for women.  Sasha is also a member of the Cedar Falls School Board.  

Wednesday, February 26 - What Do You Know about School Boards? Joyce Coil, Past President of Cedar Falls School Board. 
Joyce Coil has just stepped down after serving 25 years on the Cedar Falls School Board, four of those years as President of the Board.  She has an incredible record of serving her community.  Joyce will reflect on things she would like the public to know about school boards.  

Monday, January 6, 2020

Our Nebraska-Iowa Kiwanis District celebrated its Century Birthday on January 6 this year. We have plenty of reasons to celebrate. We have benefitted countless youth and community members.  

We have 175 individual clubs, divided into 6 Regions, made up of 24 divisions that encompass much of both states. There are approximately 5,400 Kiwanis members working toward the goal of "Serving the Children of the World."

We need to take time to heartily celebrate our past service and accomplishments, but there is still plenty to do in our communities.