This month’s member spotlight is volunteer extraordinaire and outgoing board member Brenna Griffin! Brenna has been involved with the Co-op almost since the very beginning. In her six years of service she has served on the Membership Committee, later becoming co-chair, and has spent the past three years serving on the Board of Directors.
This month’s member spotlight is Adel and Tom Kessler. Adel and Tom met when they were introduced by a mutual friend when Adel was a student at UNI studying Elementary and Special Education and Tom was working at the reference desk at Rod Library. While not originally from the Cedar Valley they both have been happy to call this place home for some time.
Now both retired, they enjoy spending their time reading, gardening, travelling, and exploring new places to eat with friends and family. They also love to explore the new locally owned stores and restaurants that have opened up recently. When asked what they love about living in the Cedar Valley, they couldn’t pick just one thing! “There are so many wonderful events, activities to enjoy, volunteer for… the list goes on and on.”
They decided to invest in the co-op because they believe it’s important to have access to healthy food and they see this as another way to invest in the community. Both are active in a number of volunteer organizations, so being a co-op member is another way they can give back. With our member numbers growing, they’re getting more excited about the co-op becoming a reality. They can’t wait to have fresh, local items available year round.
Thanks Adel and Tom for being co-op members!
Carol Lilly is our spotlight member-owner this month, and her family of four moved to Cedar Falls in 2008. Her husband Chris grew up in CF and after working in the mid-west for several years, they settled here to raise their two boys, Jake and Josh. Chris is the warehouse supervisor for Cedar Falls Utilities and Carol is the director of Community Main Street. Jake is now 20 and is in the Marine Corps. Josh is 18 and will be leaving for San Diego State University this fall.
Now that their children will be gone much of the year, their free time is about to change! They enjoy spending time outdoors and supporting local events and activities, many times through volunteering. Chris is one of Community Main Street’s most active volunteers, according to Carol. Their most consistent volunteer activity is watering the downtown plants on Sunday mornings during the summer. Chris is a member of Rotary and Carol is on numerous boards, including Sartori Foundation, Cedar Falls Community Foundation and Cedar Falls Community Theatre. She also sits on the Park & Rec Commission and acts as a liaison to the Cedar Falls Tourism Bureau and Greater Cedar Valley Alliance and Chamber Affiliate group.
Carol’s parents are her greatest role models. They both endured great hardships growing up, yet were able to find a way to go to college, choosing careers in education. They taught her that a person’s station in life doesn’t matter and to treat everyone fairly and with respect. “Everyone has something to contribute and tapping into each person’s strengths helps them grow individually and helps the greater community,” Carol said. They also taught her the importance of family and always making it her top priority.
The vibrancy of downtown is one of the primary reasons they decided to move back to CF, so Carol was really excited when she got the opportunity to work for Community Main Street. “I may be bias because of my work, but I truly love the downtown district! A locally owned shop or restaurant has a different vibe than big box. To me, the cluster of local businesses downtown and on the Hill helps give Cedar Falls its personality,” she said.
Carol is looking forward to having a food co-op in town, due to the sense of community the co-op offers: “It brings people who may not have crossed paths in everyday life together and turns acquaintances into friends.”
Although they moved around quite a bit when they were first married, Carol said, “No matter where we have lived, we found ways to connect and embrace the community in which we lived. ‘Living local’ has been our lifestyle long before it became mainstream.”
Mark and Theresa Westbrock (rhymes with “rock”) moved to Iowa in August, 2017 from Las Cruces, New Mexico. Theresa is a librarian, and received her degree in library science from Wayne State University in Detroit. Mark received his undergrad degree in biology at UCSB, and his masters from Wake Forest. The two met while Mark was doing some teaching at the University of Michigan Biology Station where Theresa was the librarian, a position she held for six years.
Mark spent a great deal of time during his masters education living and studying at the Galapagos Islands. Mark lived in a tent for about a year and a half on the Galapagos while studying seabirds. Theresa’s work as a librarian took her from Michigan to New Mexico State University in 2006, where she worked until 2017.
Andrew and Molly Stephenson met while in the same graduate program at Iowa State University. Andrew hails from Madison, while Molly grew up in Edina. Both completed their undergraduate degrees, and have also successfully completed a master degree program in Wildlife Ecology and Sustainable Agriculture. Andrew had previously completed his undergraduate degrees in French and Anthropology at Grinnell College, while Molly studied Animal Science at the University of Minnesota.Continue reading
Joel Moorhead graduated from Central Washington University with a degree in Communica-tions. He is originally from Seattle WA and has lived in the area for ten years. Joel moved to Iowa to open a Little Caesar’s franchise with his brother. He met his wife, Laura, a few years later on match.com. Running a business took a lot of his time, and there was not much time to meet people. Laura attended UNI where she earned her degree in Sociology and was working at TransAmerica when they bought the Budget Blinds business which serves the Waterloo, Cedar Falls, and Waverly communities. Joel and Laura have been married five years and have two sons, Max is 4, and Alex is 2. They sold Little Caesar’s on Alex’s birthday and started Budget Blinds in 2012. Laura is currently running the family business and is a member of the Junior League. They are also members of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Chamber of Commerce and have been members of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op about two years. Joel is actively working as an independent Franchise Consultant nationwide byobossconsulting.com.Continue reading
Wendy Johnson and her husband, Johnny Rafkin, own and operate Jóia Food Farm, located in Northeast Iowa. Together, they have a 5-year old daughter, Vivienne, who is currently planning her own garden for this coming spring. Wendy is originally from Iowa but moved to California after college to pursue her then love of fashion and marketing. In 2010, Wendy returned to Iowa with Johnny to live and work on the family farm. Wendy felt a strong connection to her family heritage and wanted to respect what her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents worked so hard to create. When she returned to Iowa, she didn’t know much about agronomy, so she enrolled in a few classes at Iowa State University, took master gardener classes and found mentorship, peers, and resources through Practical Farmers of Iowa.
Jóia Food Farm raises pigs, sheep and lamb, chicken for eggs and meat, turkeys, and ducks. They also grow organic grains and pastures. The animals are grazed within the organic rotation, adding to the nutrients that the soils need to grow healthy plants. Jóia Food Farm believes in the principles of agro-ecology, with a focus on biodiversity, the sharing of animals and plants working together to create healthy soils, healthy animals, healthy plants, a healthy environment and most importantly, healthy food.
Jacquelyn (Jackie) Berggren and her husband Kevin live in Cedar Falls. Jackie is one of the newest Co-op board members and has also been a member of the Communications Committee since she became a founding member/owner about a year ago. Jackie has been attending Huntington College of Health Sciences for the last two years and will graduate in March with her AS in Applied Nutrition. She recently became an Independent Sales Consultant with Norwex. She is interested in Nutrition coaching and is studying with a Reiki Master Teacher. Kevin works at Aramark in Waterloo. Kevin and Jackie dated in High School and reconnected some years later and married. They just celebrated their 20th anniversary together. They have two daughters, a daughter-in-law, one son, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren (three boys, and one girl). About five years ago, they rescued a sweet little Jack Russell Terrier mix from the Cedar Bend Humane Society and named her Macy. She is adorable and loves to go for walks with Jackie. Kevin is an avid golfer, so spring cannot get here fast enough for him!Continue reading
Jim O’Loughlin and his wife, Julie Husband, have three children, Nic (19), Devin (16) and Ian (11). Julie and Jim have both taught English at UNI since moving to Cedar Falls in 2000. Jim is the host of the Final Thursday Reading Series at the Hearst Center for the Arts, a forum for creative writers that is now in its 18thseason. He recently edited and published, Planting Red Geraniums, a collection of previously unknown James Hearst poems that he discovered.
As a downtown resident and bike commuter, Jim really appreciates all that can be done within a short walk or ride. Since they bought their first house here, there’s been a new library, a new Lincoln Elementary School, an expanded Recreation Center, not to mention the investments made in the trail system. So, they have come to appreciate that a changing community can become a community with more to offer its residents.
Jim is a regular customer at Hansen’s Farm Fresh Dairy and makes use of the Co-op discount on milk there all the time. Hansen’s Dairy is one of the many Co-op business partners that offer discounts to our members.
Jim feels that a Co-op can focus on the kind of farm-to-table initiatives that Iowa needs and is well-suited to offer. Diversified farming can lead to safer waterways and healthier eating. It’s a win-win situation. But a Co-op can do more than just provide food. It can become a community resource that offers cultural programming and education.
Jim is a runner and a biker and loves to cook. He was a co-founder of the Overman Park Neighborhood Association and is currently the group’s President. Last summer, he and his friend, Jon Taiber, made the inaugural SingleSpeed kayak loop, paddling from downtown Cedar Falls to downtown Waterloo and back, which is sure to become a regular summer event.
Between Julie’s ambitious vegetable garden and Jim’s modest herb garden, they can eat salads with ingredients they mostly grow themselves throughout the summer. Nothing tastes better than food you grow yourself and pick just before eating.
Jim loves spring in Iowa. When the calendar says spring has started, it’s like the word goes out to nature and everything begins to turn a vibrant green. It’s an amazing transformation to see every year.
Desarae Pierce and her husband, Nate have been married for five years and have a little boy who will be 2 in February. They own a home on the lake in Evansdale. Desarae grew up in Cedar Falls and graduated from Cedar Falls High School, then earned her Associates degree at Hawkeye Community College, and was accepted to Allen College in Waterloo. She works at Allen hospital as an x-ray technologist. Her husband grew up in Waterloo and graduated from West High School. Nate owns his own business, The Shinehouse, window tinting and automotive detailing, and is a business partner of the Cedar Falls Food Co-op!