Archive for  November 29th 2017

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Typing is a necessary skill in today’s digital age, but if it were not for donations like those coming in on Giving Tuesday to Urban Dreams, a Des Moines human service organization, Jallisa Hill may not be job-ready.

“Very thankful for it, very humble experience. I didn’t know how to type before. I taught myself how to type here,” she said.

Jalissa, among others, entered Urban Dreams’ 10-month job training program, which partners with local businesses like Wells Fargo and Broadlawns, helping urban communities find work. It’s a boost Dennis Henderson, who works with Broadlawns, believes can make all the difference.

“They are homeless now but just a job away or an opportunity away from being off the streets,” he said, adding, “that allows them to get a career instead of just a job, and it changes people’s lives forever.”

Urban Dreams Executive Director Izaah Knox says that change can continue to grow from pocket change, thanks to a new partnership with Soft Giving.

“Soft Giving is an organization that was actually started in Des Moines, and when you give to an organization, all the change from your debit card or your credit card automatically just rounds up to the nearest dollar.”

While Soft Giving requires your bank account information to begin donating, it touts bank-level security for users and you can limit how often you give. Knox said, “You can easily set a limit, and it just easily rounds your change up to the nearest dollar and then donates to the organization.”

Giving local helped Urban Dreams see Jallisa’s growth firsthand.

“She just has grown leaps and bounds by going through this 10-month program that we have. She has impressed us so much that we are hiring her,” said Knox.

Now, with a full-time job as office manager, Jallisa looks forward to seeing the donations that helped her now help others.

“To feed the homeless outside and get hats on them, clothes on them, scarves, mittens, stuff they can’t afford to buy for themselves.”

To donate your change to Urban Dreams, click here.

WINTERSET, Iowa  —  “We get all kinds of calls, ranging from accidents to dog bites to domestics, shots fired,” said Sergeant Kory Heckstein. “We deal with it all down here.”

Madison County Sheriff’s deputies like Sgt. Heckstein deal with it all, and often alone.

“A lot of times you’re by yourself,” said Sgt. Heckstein. “You deal with what you get, as you get it, and safety is a big concern, not just for officers, but also for the community. And our response time, if we’re tied up with one call, we could be backed up 2, 3, 4 calls. Our county is 550 square miles and to get from one point to the next, it can take a period of time.”

Sometimes, depending on the call, Winterset Police or State Troopers will help out if they’re close by–but that takes time.

“Sometimes your backup’s 15, 20 minutes away, and you’re alone.”

Being alone can lead to some dicey situations, like one instance five years ago when two taxi drivers from Des Moines brought a resident from the county home from the bar one night.

“The bill was $60,” said Sgt. Heckstein. “He had $30 on his person, went in the house to get the additional money, came out with a pistol, fired 16 rounds into the air, in the ground. The taxi drivers fled to a neighbor’s residence and waited for me to get there. I got there and was talking to him in the roadway and the same subject walked 200 yards to where we were standing with an AK-47 and came around the house.”

Fortunately, the man surrendered and was taken into custody.

“You have to have the proper mindset,” said Sgt. Heckstein. “You can’t be scared. You just gotta deal with what you get. A lot of it comes down to talking to people. It gets stressful.”

The population of Madison County as of the last census was 15,679. Sheriff Jason Barnes estimates that population to be at at least 17,000 now. Sheriff Barnes says the sheriff’s office handles an average of 650 calls for service a month.

The office just hired two deputies in the last four months, but those deputies replaced two who retired. Sheriff Barnes says he could still use two more deputies with the steady rise in calls and investigations. Sheriff Barnes says the County Board of Supervisors is very supportive and he’s confident they will give his office what it needs going forward. The sheriff says the board is aware of the problem and the issue is brought up at every budget hearing.