An investment in the future

ACE seeks donations to keep doors open

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra ACE Community Center is pictured above. The community center is in need of financial donations to help get them through the end of the year. Those who would like to donate can send checks to ACE Community Center, 1440 E. Second St., Webster City, IA, 50595 or drop off donations during office hours: Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations are tax deductible.

“Donations to ACE are investments in the future of Hamilton County,” said Janet Toering, ACE Education and Immigration Director.

As 2017 comes to a close, ACE is in dire need of financial contributions to keep their doors open. According to Toering, it costs the community center $12,000 a month to pay for utilities, insurance, other expenses and paying those employed at ACE.

As Hamilton County continues to experience a shift in cultural diversity, ACE hopes to continue to provide classes and programs to support and embrace this change.

“We have so many services that are needed in this change of climate, but we have no money to support them because we are not a government agency,” said Toering. “We rely on lots of donations and volunteers.”

“Research shows that the rural communities in Iowa that are surviving and thriving all of the changes are the ones that embrace cultural diversity and have people from many countries living and working together,” said Toering.

ACE Community Center began serving Hamilton County and the surrounding area in 2001. ACE offers a variety of services focused on drawing members of this diverse community together. According to Toering, there are over 30 countries represented at ACE.

“The primary purpose of ACE is to help encourage the acceptance and assimilation into the community individuals of various cultural backgrounds by providing education and social opportunities,” said Toering.

“That’s our mission to embrace diversity and bring the community together,” Toering said. “We have the ability to bridge so many gaps and bring people together.”

One of the many services ACE offers is language classes. Individuals can learn both Spanish and English. These classes are taught by either native speakers or certified teachers in the Hamilton County area.

“ACE is ready and willing to help industry and the community embrace the ability to have more workers and take down the language barriers,” said Toering. “It’s so enriching when you embrace people from other countries and share their knowledge and get out of our little boxes.”

Toering was one of many community members who took part in a community conversation about diversity last Friday. Storm Lake Police Chief and Public Safety Director Mark Prosser was the featured speaker.

Prosser noted the work it took to accommodate and embrace the changes Storm Lake saw after a series of cultural shifts in the community. Language barriers was the number one challenge Storm Lake faced in the wake of a cultural divide.

“The communities that haven’t embraced that are consolidating schools and maybe even city and county services,” Toering said. “We, as in the people in the Hamilton County area, are obviously embracing some big industrial growth and growth in general that will help all of us have a better quality of life.”

With hard work and bridging the relational gap between cultures, Prosser explained that the diverse population has been positive for Storm Lake. He noted thanks to a shift in culture, Storm Lake has become a more vibrant and better community.

“After listening to the conversation on Friday, it became more clear to those of us that came from ACE that we have been working hard to do the same things that Storm Lake is doing,” Toering said. “Our biggest challenge is to find the financial and community support to do those things.”

Individuals who wish to donate to ACE can do so by cash or check. Contributions can be sent to ACE Community Center, 1440 E. Second St., Webster City, IA, 50595. Donations can also be dropped off at ACE during open office hours Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Donations to ACE are tax deductible. ACE will send donors receipt letters for that purpose.

“It is important for people to know that we are a diverse community. We have been for a very long time,” Toering said. “We’re encouraging people if you want to help your community and get to know people in the community, ACE is a great place to go.”

“It’s a donation from the heart and passion to want to see this community thrive and bridge some of those language and cultural gaps,” Toering said. “We can’t do that without help.”