President’s Comments Fall 2013

February 2, 2014 2:02 am

Dear Friends,

I write to you as our fall colors blaze in reds, yellows, and browns, and yet snow is forecast for northern Iowa later today! Your West Des Moines Historical Society has been busy building new capacity during 2013. We are embarking on a major fundraising initiative to raise our organization’s profile, rebuild capacity, and provide funds for much needed repairs to the exterior of the Jordan House and the Bennett School.

In support of this effort, last month we launched a $250,000 Community Enrichment Initiative with a hosted event at the Stine Hospitality Barn, courtesy of Harry and Molly Stine. On a beautiful, warm mid-October afternoon, we had about 100 guests including West Des Moines Historical Society members and volunteers, elected officials, and local area residents and
business leaders interested in learning more about the work of the Society. Pat Berkley Jordan from Minnesota, Bob Jordan from Cedar Falls, and his daughter, Jenna DeRoos, and her daughter Jordan, from Urbandale were special guests–three generations of Jordan family members!

We also had special guests Debbie Dean and two Valley High School students, Abby Edgar and Natalie Dean, who were part of the Hyperstream club that produced a 5-minute video, telling the inspiring story of early West Des Moines settler, James C. Jordan. Our program also included the viewing of a 9-minute Community Enrichment video produced by Three Razors Media, which the Society produced to help raise awareness for our cultural and historic activities. The YouTube links for these two videos can be found on our website. If you haven’t seen either video, please spend a few minutes viewing them and share them with others who you think might be interested in learning more about the Society. They provide a helpful context for the Community Enrichment Initiative and why we believe our educationoriented mission is worth supporting.

Finally, I wanted to bring you up-to-date on our membership development efforts. We began the year with 85 memberships and a goal of getting to 300 by year end. With your help, we can get there! As of September 30th, we are at 172. Membership levels range from $10 for student/seniors to $1,000 for benefactors. Individuals, foundations, and corporations are eligible to join, too. We are also looking for major supporters. These levels range from Trailblazer at $500 to Legacy at $10,000. Every little bit of support helps us move toward a sustainable base of support — approximately $125,000–which the Society will use to continue to deliver our high-quality educational programming to area schools, local residents, and out-of-town guests.

In a typical year, more than 1,500 school children from 40 schools visit our two Society properties, which feature early Iowa history from 1850-1945. With adequate funding we can expand our educational programming and our reach to more central Iowa schools. We also draw about 1,000 members from the general public each year, with visitors coming from around the Midwest,places like Omaha, Minneapolis, and Kansas City. With your support, we’d like to grow our visitor numbers while we add new special events, like seasonal music and theatre, and other opportunities to experience the properties throughout the year.

Whether you donate cash, volunteer time, or contribute in-kind services (hint: we are looking for lawn and gutter care and window cleaning services), we appreciate your contributions to the Society. Your contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

If you have suggestions for improving our operations, building our membership, or expanding our programming, I can reached at Thank you, again for your support.

John Norwood
President, West Des Moines Historical Society