Preserving Families: Changing Outcomes


This past year, my daughter learned how to make cherry preserves as a 4-H project; she was so proud of learning how to make them, and that it went on to the Iowa State Fair to be judged.  I don’t know about you, but there is not much that can beat the taste of homemade preserves, made with love. Each ingredient being carefully picked, handled, and prepared for the future care of loved ones and family.  Mason jars are used for so many things, helping to preserve not just food; but also memories and dreams. When I was young and even today, I used a mason jar as a way to save money for those memories and dreams sometimes a penny at a time.  There is an old song that Bing Crosby made famous called “Pennies from Heaven” that explains that raindrops are like pennies that reward us with the beauty of nature, and that the storms of life are the fee we pay to have blue skies, flowers, and all those natural beauties we take for granted.  In the past year, Hope4Healing has help to change outcomes through 4,037 requests from individuals and families all across Iowa. We were able process each of those requests for on average $9.17 per request. We expect to see continued growth over the next year, and need your help to preserve families and change outcomes through your spare change just as many of us did in the past.  Organizations like the Salvation Army and others in our area understand how spare change can make a world of difference.

Here’s how it works: we will provide your church, community group, youth group, club, or family with Hope4Healing labeled mason jars in order to collect change, cash, or checks for a month at a time.  It gives each of us the opportunity to preserve our traditions by teaching our families, friends, children, and communities the power of saving for something worthwhile. I have grown up in Iowa, and Iowa has a great tradition of families helping other families who are on hard times.  The methods of helping others may have changed, through the use of social media, resource assistance networks, and others; but one thing hasn’t changed our ability to help others with whatever we can give.

I will never forget the thrill within my being when it came time to count out the change in that Mason jar, and I knew I had enough money to buy that baseball mitt, bike, baseball cards, or whatever I had been saving for.  It was a sense of achievement, accomplishment, and even pride. Nowadays, the things I save for are larger (vacations, home improvements, gifts to others); but you can ask my children, I still have a jar on top of the refrigerator for my excess change.  It never ceases to amaze me how much is in the jar when it becomes full; but I still get that same sense of accomplishment for having made a difference and preserving a tradition.

If you would like to join us in preserving families and changing outcomes, please contact us at (855)584-HOPE (4673) or email us at


Thank you, 

Ryan Keller

I’m Stronger Than The Storm Camps

By Melissa Keller

July 2019 marked the one year anniversary of the Marshalltown tornado that saw many businesses and homes alike torn apart by an unexpected EF3 tornado. Physical damage was done to buildings, homes, and infrastructure’s throughout Marshalltown, housing shortages remain a key issue, as many families are still living in temporary housing situations. A sense of normalcy has not resumed for many, and this has been especially difficult for the children of Marshalltown.  Parents have told Hope4Healing that simple things like loud noises, thunderstorms, or a train going by can trigger bad memories which often results in sleeping difficulties for their children. 

Due to these reasons and more, Hope4Healing wanted to find a way to help the children of Marshalltown learn to gain the supports in their “toolbox”  and Build Resiliency.  Our answer to this quandry came as several organizations decided to partner together with the Long-Term Recovery Family Sub-Committee.  By working together and combining resources and talents,  Marshalltown’s youth will have a wonderful opportunity to attend a day camp at Wolfe Ranch during the upcoming school year.  These daycamps will focus on “Building Resliency” with the support of horses through equine therapy.  The goal is to learn to overcome fears and gain supports.  For more details on the camps, please check out this recent newspaper article about the upcoming camps. 

Hope4Healing is blessed and thankful to be involved in this wonderful opportunity!  We are still looking for a few more volunteers to help out with these camps.  If you are interested in helping at one or all five of the camps, please call 855-584-4673 ext 701 to receive a volunteer application. Background checks are required.

2019 The Road so Far

By Ryan Keller, Executive Director

2019 has been a busy year so far, and we are thankful for the opportunities that have been place into our path.  Through August of 2019, we have processed close to 2000 requests for assistance; have added 11 new resource partners, and 7 new church partners.  One of our goals is to increase the number of new churches on the network by 40 new churches in the next year.  To meet this goal, we are planning 3 regional meetings to which we will invite existing and new churches to help them better understand the Hope4Healing network and to invite them to partner with us in helping and reaching new people for Christ.  We have recently been reminded of how the church serves to provide comfort in tribulation through the words of II Corinthians 1: 3-7.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.  Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.  And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.

We are seeing greater opportunities for volunteers to get involved, and are excited to have our second volunteer fully trained and answering phones for us during the week.  We are still seeking four to five more volunteers to help in this capacity, and are prayerfully considering how we can develop a volunteer emergency response team as part of a more long term goal.  We have been privileged to be invited to coordinate 6 camps (one of which was held in August) for children in Marshalltown who went through the tornado a year ago.  The remaining 5 camps will be held at Wolfe Ranch throughout the school year providing opportunity for 200 or more youth to learn to cope better with anxiety, fear, and stress.  We are coordinating this effort with Quakerdale Family Services, the Marshalltown School System, and 6 other human services organizations in the Marshalltown area.  We are working to put together several fundraisers like a Chili Cook Off in Marshalltown in October, our second annual gospel concert with Higher Power, our second annual Christmas Concert and Dinner in Waterloo, and other dinners with partnering churches through the end of the year.  We will also have a fundraiser and information booth at Wolfe Ranch’s Christmas in the Stables event this year.  Our Executive Director has also had opportunities to do pulpit/missionary reports to several of our partnering churches.

We had a record breaking successful first year with our VITA (volunteer income tax preparation) site this spring.  It was record breaking, because it is the first VITA site in the country to be staffed by immigrants who speak the home language of the people for whom they are providing services.  Not just the first in Iowa, but the first in the nation!  Hope4Healing has been a partner with the Iowa Center and the Federal IRS to provide this service to families in the Waterloo area and are scheduled to provide this service again next year.

We ask that you continue to pray for us as we seek to stay the course; and we ask that you share with others the impact we are having.  Also, it would be our privilege to come and speak to your church about Hope4Healing and how we can be a part of helping the church fulfill the example of II Corinthians 1: 3-7 through the churches local missions outreach.

Finding Opportunities

Written by Ryan Keller

We are often asked about the types of resource requests that we receive at Hope4Healing, and we received a request today that seemed to be a good time to discuss both the type of request and how you can get involved in helping solve a need.

We received a request from a single mother who has a young daughter who will be going into kindergarten this fall.  She was driving along the highway and went to hit the brakes only to have all four lock up on her and almost put her in the ditch.  She explained that she just barely touched the brakes, but she was whipped around like she had slammed on the brakes.  Not only are the brakes bad, but one of the struts on the car desperately needs to be replaced, but she can’t afford to get all of the work done.  So what is this mother to do?  Without a car she can’t work.  This mother’s request was to help her find a new car for somewhere between $600.00 to $1,000.00.  We, and this mother, know the reality that for $1,000.00 or less you won’t get much of a car.  She has save for years to get this nest egg, so the reality is that she can’t afford a car payment.  Sometimes it feels like life is against us, especially when we try to do the right thing.

You could reward this mother and her family in various ways; and it is in those ways that you can partner with Hope4Healing to make a difference.  The easy answer is that if you have a decent, good running vehicle to sell this family you could easily fulfill this need.  You can also pray for these families to hold them up and encourage them during the struggle they are facing in their life.  However, did you know that you could donate money to Hope4Healing since we are a 501 c 3 not for profit organization and earmark it to help with requests like these?  Finally, did you know that you can donate items to Hope4Healing like vehicles, land, houses, etc…?  Even if the item donated does not benefit a family directly, the sale of the item can be used to help Hope4Healing’s budgetary needs to help families in need across Iowa.  As with any donation, it is always best to consult a financial consultant to best identify how to properly make a donation.

If you would like to find out more about how to make a donation or to find out about the other ways you can get involved, call us at 855-584-HOPE (4673) ext. 700 to talk with Hope4Healing’s Executive Director, or email us at .

Through the Eyes of a Child

Submitted by one of our resource partners

Have you ever looked into the eyes of a hurting child to see true heartbreak, fear, hurt, and anger?  What started out as a normal day of work one warm day last summer at my part-time job as a daycare worker, turned out to be a life-changing experience for myself. I have always enjoyed working with kids, planning activities, taking them on field trips, and listening to their dreams, and excitement about their planned summer activities; however, when I entered the doors one day last summer, I heard a child sobbing uncontrollably. The new child would not stop crying, and as I reached out to the child I will call “Drew” to protect his identity, “Drew” grabbed my lower leg and would not let go.  I quickly got his attention by speaking to him about animals, and colors, and then out of desperation grabbed the bottle of “magic” bubbles, and blew some bubbles with the wand in the air. Watching the bubbles float through the air, 4-year old “Drew” started to smile and the tears quickly dried up, and as quick as that– I had made a new little friend. “Drew” and I had “connected” , and after that whenever I was at work, my new little buddy followed me everywhere, and didn’t want to see me leave.

The other staff at the daycare struggled often to care for “Drew” as he was constantly in tears, exhibited fear of changing classrooms, and feared going outside– which made it difficult to transition him and the other children.  During the day, the children typically changed locations from place to place for lunch, playtime, bathrooms, nap time, etc, and every time we changed rooms or went to a different location, the constant tears and fears were exhibited. “Drew” would hit the other children on the playground, and did not want to share any of the toys– ever, he wanted to keep all of them. It was very clear that this child had undergone trauma in his past, as we would later find out the hurt, anger, confusion, were understandably part of the puzzle.

One day I had to work late and close the center, and had an opportunity to meet “Drew’s” mother whom I will call “Mary” to protect her identity as well. I had hoped to meet “Mary” after an unusual incident had happened on the playground that afternoon, you see “Drew’s” only pair of shoes (a cheap 50 cent pair of flip flops) broke.  This sent “Drew” into hysterics saying mommy be upset, mommy be upset. This truly broke my heart, and I wanted to meet his mom to see how the daycare staff could help. When “Mary” came in, she broke down crying to find out that Drew’s sandals were broken as she did not have funds to replace them. After talking with “Mary”, she told me about her situation; she had recently escaped from a terrible domestic violence situation, and had left with nothing other than her child. She had been homeless before she had finally found a recent job as a waitress, which was difficult due to her limited education, and not having her GED.  Mary was excited to receive her first paycheck soon, but she was worried because she was also six months pregnant and didn’t know how she would manage once the new baby was born. In the meantime, she didn’t know how to get help, where to turn, how to get food for the weekend, or where to find “Drew” a new pair of shoes. So, I grabbed some Hope4Healing cards on the daycare table in the hallway, and told “Mary” that she might want to give Hope4Healing a call to see if they could help.

Hope4Healing helped “Drew” and “Mary” with their difficult situation, and the transformation that happened was amazing as Hope4Healing was able to find Drew clothing, shoes, toys, and books, located affordable housing for the family, helped her get groceries, find baby clothes for the new baby on the way, and helped them find a local church to attend.  The local church that Mary went to also had a single moms program, and so not only were their physical needs met, but the support she received through the single moms group gave her the encouragement she needed. Slowly, Mary began to see a way out and a path forward, and although not perfect, their situation improved. Drew and Mary also obtained counseling and saw improved behavior in Drew.

Hope4Healing truly lived up to their name, and I saw first-hand how “Drew and Mary’s” lives were changed”.  I appreciate the opportunity to speak on their behalf, and also your understanding of the need to still protect their identity in light of all they have been through. This story is the story of many single mom’s and children that Hope4Healing has helped; I know this first hand, because this experience was a turning point for me also.  You see, it was after this experience, that I realized that I wanted to do more, and I began to volunteer to take phone calls on a regular basis for Hope4Healing. Every week on the phone, I speak to many people who are hurting, but especially single moms with young children who are out of options; they are broken–mentally, physically, and emotionally and don’t know where to turn.


As I mentioned earlier, this situation truly broke my heart, and I am glad that Hope4Healing was able to be there, but I can’t help but think about all of the other “Mary and Drew’s” out there that still need help. You may think (like I had) that you are too busy to help make a difference, but I would encourage you to consider donating your time or finances if you are able to help out organizations like Hope4Healing that work with youth and families in need. Looking back, last summer was a turning point in my own life, and through meeting “Drew and Mary”, my own perspective changed, as I caught a glimpse of life through the eyes of this hurting child.

Building Strong Families Through Parent Cafe’s–We’re Making A Difference!

Written by Melissa Keller

Hope4Healing has been active in hosting several parent cafe’s throughout Central Iowa this summer.  We hosted a cafe in Marshalltown, and Eldora during the month of May, and this next week we will help host a parent cafe in Toledo, and Grinnell, Iowa.  

Chances are you may be wondering… what exactly is a parent cafe? Parent Cafés are physically and emotionally safe spaces where parents and caregivers talk together about the challenges and victories of raising a family.  During a cafe,  participants use self-reflection and peer-to-peer learning, explore their strengths, learn about the Protective Factors, and create strategies from their own wisdom and experiences to help strengthen their own families.

As a mom, I look forward to attending parent cafe’s!  The atmosphere is fun, inviting, and it is rewarding to meet other parents and caregivers and learn from their experiences.  Parent Cafe themes vary, our current theme is “Striking A Balance Between Screen Time and Scream Time”.   If you live near Toledo or Grinnell, Iowa please consider joining Hope4Healing next week, or if you would like to see a parent cafe come to your area, please let us know!  Please feel free to share this post with anyone you know that may be interested.  For more information, or to register, please click on the links below!

Toledo Cafe

Grinnell  Parent Cafe

A Special Thank You! Lennox Quakerdale Golf Fundraiser 2019

Written By Melissa Keller

Hope4Healing was thankful to be a part of the Lennox Quakerdale Golf Fundraiser yesterday, and enjoyed the banquet last evening! We appreciate all that Lennox, the fundraising committee, and many corporate and area sponsors have done to help make non-profits like Hope4Healing able to continue to make a difference in the lives of children and families throughout Iowa .

Congratulations to Lennox! After an exceedingly difficult year of rebuilding after the Marshalltown tornado, they went above and beyond again, raising the most funds they had ever raised to date for the golf fundraiser. The proceeds from this event will be divided between each of the 5 non-profits pictured below.


(Left to right) Dave Smith-Wolfe Ranch, Beth Andrew-Quakerdale Family Services, Julie Schroeder-Promise Academy, Mark Schroeder-Eagles Basketball, and Ryan Keller-Hope4Healing.


Friendship and a Healthier You!

Written by Ryan Keller, Executive Director

In my previous article, I wrote about the role of our “Friendship Partners” and how important that role is in the success of those that we help.  I explained that our “Friendship Partners” practice intentional friendship.  Not surprisingly, the idea of intentionally making friends can seem daunting to some individuals; especially, in a day and age where we consider people we never see or interact with except on social media to be friends.  So I thought it would be beneficial to share an article I read from Mayo Clinic entitled “Friendships enrich your life and improve your health”. (

This article explains that friendships provides the following benefits:Related image

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one
  • Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

Image result for nothing worth having having was ever achieved without effortLike any good investment, the benefits of friendship only come after making the effort.  Like being a good athlete, a good parent, or a good employee, we invest the time in our passions in order to enjoy our successes.  There are days the athlete doesn’t want to practice, there are days parents want to pull their hair out, and there are days when we consider quitting out jobs; but at the end of the day, the athlete practices to be able to win the game, the parent deal with the pain a child can bring to see them develop into competent adults, and the employee enjoys both the paycheck and has the potential for a raise or promotion.  Anything worth doing requires both effort and joy.

Friendship is no different!  The one cool thing about the benefits listed above is that both sides of the friendship benefit.  You see the “Friendship Partner” receives the benefits of intentional friendships just as much as the person or family-in-need being served through the Hope4Healing network.  The article helps to explain some useful information about where to make friends:

  • Attend community events.
  • Extend and accept invitations.
  • Take up a new interest.
  • Join a faith community.
  • Take a walk

Did you catch it?  Even Mayo Clinic sees the value in friendships with individuals from faith communities.  They also give some helpful advice on how to make friends:

To nurture your friendships:

  • Be kind
  • Listen up
  • Open up
  • Show that you can be trusted
  • Make yourself available
  • Manage your nerves with mindfulness

Image result for proverbs 27:9 scenic river

I never knew how much good could come from friendship for my own health.  Did you?  What greater gift could we give another person that a healthier life through our friendship.  I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.  With your current friends, next time you are with them remember you are giving them more than your time; you are giving them a healthier life.

Thank you,

Ryan Keller

Executive Director.

Intentional Friendship

Written by Ryan Keller, Executive Director

Image result for one of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understoodYou know at Hope4Healing, like other places, we have terms that we use to describe who we are or what our partners do; sometimes, we forget that others may not understand the terms we use.  I would like to share with you about one of our partner relationships that often is misunderstood.  Hope4Healing, unlike other resource assistance networks, has a unique partner called the “Friendship Partner” or sometimes called the “Church Partner”.  These two terms can be used interchangeably depending on what group we are talking too.

Our partnerships work like ingredients in a recipe; the final product doesn’t work if Image result for salt instead of sugareach ingredient (or partner) is not in the mix.  With all of our partners working together, the end result is appealing and fulfilling for those families and individuals we serve.  The other important part of that illustration is to understand that because each partner has a role to play, we take time to make sure our families and individuals that we serve know what each of our partners roles are and how they work.  This is an important delineation; because just as you couldn’t substitute salt for sugar in a recipe, you can’t substitute a “Friendship Partner” for a “Referral Partner”, “Resource Partner”, or the Hope4Healing staff.

So what does a “Friendship Partner” do?  Their job is to provide intentional friendship.  Does that seem strange to you?  How can friendship be intentional?  We often believe that good friends happen because of some mysterious force or fate that brings two people together and the just click.  Although it is true that similar interests or character traits might bring us together, it is the investment of time and intentionally make time for our friends that secures the friendship.  It is only after these intentional efforts that we feel able to share our fears, be vulnerable, and to trust another person for emotional and spiritual support in our lives.  It goes along with the old adage that “…know cares how much you know, until they know how much you care…”  The best illustration of friendship being intentional is that of a married couple.  When the couple dated, one or both were very intentional in wanting to get to know the other person.  Dates were often planned to the most intricate detail, and were designed to be romantic so as to further develop an interest in being together.  Often after marriage, and I see this everyday as a marriage and family therapist, one or both spouses forget to continue to intentionally pursue each other.  The marriage becomes cold; and when they sit in the office across from me, they are astonished that they need to plan date nights and personal time together.  After all, in marriage shouldn’t love be spontaneous, exciting, and shouldn’t we know each other so well that we can read each other’s minds?  We forget how intentional we were when we dated.Image result for intentional versus spontaneous

The old saying goes that “…strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet…”  We partner with churches across the state of Iowa to provide intentional friendships for the families and individuals we serve.  On a basic level, we do this because there is a church in every community across Iowa, and church people are willing to provide intentional friendships without expectation of being reimbursed.  Churches are uniquely equipped to provide emotional and spiritual support.  If you are a church member who wants to learn how to be an intentional friend, check out this link from Little Light on a Hill:  . But, just as salt cannot replace sugar, remember that our “Friendship Partners” are not responsible for finding your resources or providing your resources.  Their role in the Hope4Healing process is to encourage, be a true friend, and to be your personal, local connection to Hope4Healing; instead of talking to some stranger on the phone.

We would love to hear your questions or come present to your church, small group, or organization about what we do and how we can partner together to help families and individuals in need.

Thank you,

Ryan Keller

Executive Director.

Poverty and Healthy Eating

I recently came across this online article about the impact of poverty on healthy eating from .   What are your thoughts?

Understand Poverty

The challenges and effects of poverty

Poverty is a lack of resources – generally, it is considered a lack of financial resources.  Living in poverty means that people will likely face many tough challenges. These may include:

  • Not having enough money to buy what is needed
  • Having to go without health care
  • Being at risk for hunger
  • Living in unsafe environments
  • Working in low-wage, high-stress jobs
  • Dealing with inadequate or long-distance transportation
  • Limited access to quality education and/or higher education
  • Limited access to appropriate role models
  • Increased stress on relationships
  • Increased risk for generational poverty, where at least two generations experience poverty

In addition, poverty may have the following effects on access to food and nutrition:

  • Uncertain transportation to the supermarket
  • Lack of a nearby supermarket
  • Inability to find or afford fresh and/or nutritious fruits and vegetables
  • Inability to afford enough food
  • Running out of food by the end of the month
  • Lacking the skills to budget or manage food spending
  • Lacking basic kitchen equipment or access to a kitchen

People living in poverty must develop skills and strategies that help them deal with the situation at hand, often favoring immediate solutions over long-term ones.

To better understand the difficulties or struggles a family may face in poverty, try out THIS activity.

Cooking Matters develops resources important to families in poverty

The skills taught in Cooking Matters courses can help families make the most of the resources they have. Cooking Matters supports families in poverty in these ways:

  • Helps participants learn to stretch their food resources through:
    • Meal planning
    • Food budgeting
    • Comparison shopping
  • Helps participants make the most of SNAP/food stamps and WIC resources
  • Teaches practical and useful nutrition information to help participants and their families avoid diet-related diseases
  • Provides a safe space for participants to build healthy relationships and be part of a supportive environment that allows them to discuss issues of poverty without stigma

Strategies for sensitivity with Cooking Matters participants

Keeping in mind the different ways people see the world can help you be more effective in the classroom.  Here are a few key strategies:

  • Find common ground for discussing the benefits of cooking healthy food on a budget for all families, so that participants do not feel targeted because of socioeconomic status  
  • Recognize your own frame of reference and don’t make assumptions based on what you’ve always thought people should know or do
  • Be aware of the challenges low-income families may face in trying to procure enough nutritious food
  • Be sensitive to unique participant backgrounds and experiences
  • Make healthy eating relevant and accessible to participants with a variety of preferences, experiences, and socioeconomic statuses

Ryan Keller

Executive Director


Lack of resources
Developing Skills