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  • Writer's pictureSpin Markket

25k goes a long way

Linking Families receives National Gypsum donation; Organization is a resource for child care in FD region

Elizabeth Stanek, executive director of Linking Families and Communities, poses at her office with the $25,000 check presented to her by National Gypsum. Next to her is a collection of children’s books and hand sanitizer. Linking Families provided a large amount of sanitizer and cleaning products to daycares during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stanek said.

A local organization focused on early child care and mental health recently got a boost from National Gypsum Co.

Linking Families and Communities, 822 Central Ave. Suite 300, was the recipient of a $25,000 donation from National Gypsum. It marked the largest single donation from an individual or corporation that the nonprofit organization has received. Elizabeth Stanek, executive director of Linking Families and Communities, was informed on Giving Tuesday (Nov. 30). “Nothing is more motivating or inspiring than knowing that someone else believes in you and is willing to put their trust in you,” Stanek said. “It is one of the greatest feelings on Earth, regardless of your age. “I was reminded of that when I received a call from the great team of people at National Gypsum Fort Dodge.” The company called to tell Stanek that Linking Families and Communities had been selected by their local staff as the charity of choice for Giving Tuesday and would receive $25,000. “They felt that our organization, which focuses on early childhood issues, including child care and mental health, is working to make a difference in the community,” Stanek said. She said the news left her almost speechless. “I probably used the words ‘honored,’ ‘awesome’ and ‘blessed’ too many times in my conversations that day, but it is truly how I felt and how all at Linking Families and Communities still feel,” she said. Linking Families and Communities is funded by the state, through the Early Childhood Iowa initiative. It is a resource organization for child care in the counties of Webster, Calhoun, and Pocahontas. Stanek said the mission of providing quality child care is among the most important in the Fort Dodge region. “Families need it for parents to go to work,” Stanek said. “It needs to be good quality for children to develop and grow the way they are supposed to. And our community needs it for people to go to work and make our economy run.” According to Stanek, 80 percent of brain development happens in the first three years of life. That’s why it’s so important to provide that foundation through strong child care. But the cost for care has complicated the ability to provide enough spaces for children. “Health and safety, availability, cost of care, the training and professional development of child care workers,” Stanek said. “We really need all of it. But it is costly. The childcare workforce isn’t paid very well. We have done stipends to increase their pay but it is costly. “The issue is we need more child care providers. Families feel the crunch because of the cost they have to pay for child care. And yet, the workforce of child care isn’t paid well. That’s the rub is that it costs a family a lot. Can they afford more to pay the people who care for our most important asset — our children? Who pays for that and how does it happen? Because if providers raise rates, the families who don’t qualify for assistance can’t afford it. So then we are putting people out of the workforce at a time when we need more people to enter the workforce.” The Linking Families board will meet in future weeks to determine exactly how those donated dollars will be used. “We are going to look at what we can address first with those funds,” Stanek said. The donation received by Linking Families was part of a larger giving campaign by National Gypsum. National Gypsum, as a company, gave out $1 million in donations at 35 of its locations. “Giving back to the communities where we live and work is a core value of our National Gypsum family,” said Thomas C. Nelson, chairman, president, and CEO of National Gypsum Co. “We are dedicated to building better futures for our associates, our communities, and, above all, those in need. We owe a debt of gratitude to our associates, the communities that are vital to our businesses, and especially to the organizations that do so much to improve the lives of people every day.” The donations were limited to tax-exempt 501(c)(3) groups, accredited colleges, universities, and secondary and elementary schools located in the United States, and eligible nonprofits in Canada. Dan Hoenig, National Gypsum Fort Dodge (Gold Bond Building Products) plant manager, was happy to be part of selecting Linking Families for the donation. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our associates, this community that is so vital to our business, and especially to the organizations that do so much to improve the lives of people every day,” Hoenig said. Stanek said the donation is very impactful. “We are blessed and honored to be the recipient of this gift,” Stanek said. “We are thankful that the team at National Gypsum Fort Dodge believes in our vision, mission, and the work we’ve been doing. It feels awesome to have their support and through their generosity to be able to do more in our community.”

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