Make a Difference!! Recap from October 2023 General Meeting

What a joy it was to have our October meeting hosted at Van Meter! Danielle Monthei and the VMI First Impressions Team were so welcoming and kind.

Danielle is the Community Impact Specialist at Van Meter Inc. as well as the VP of Operations with Junior League of Cedar Rapids and is very passionate about helping Iowa’s foster care youth.

Our keynote speaker for the meeting was, Laticia Aossey, Statewide Coordinator for Iowa’s foster care youth council, known as AMP. AMP assists young people to become advocates for themselves and gives them a voice to impact child welfare policies and practices. Through supportive, productive partnerships with adults, youth speak out to make foster care more responsive and effective. AMP’s motto is “Nothing about us, without us”.

Laticia has dedicated her life to overcoming the statistics and stereotypes placed on foster kids. She spent a total of ten years in Iowa’s foster care system which included moving 18 times and switching schools fourteen times. Laticia defeated the odds by graduating high school early and going on independent living at age seventeen, then participating in Iowa’s Aftercare program. She is a firestorm who is passionate about guiding young people onto their next step into adulthood.

After we heard from Laticia about the program, Danielle came back up and facilitated conversation and questions for Laticia. It was magical to hear the questions and conversations that were brought up by the luncheon attendees. Some of these include…

  • Begin a Grandparent Program where members of the community could partner up with an AMP member and mentor them.
  • Create an Angel Tree Wishlist. Many of these brave young people do not often receive a holiday gift. Click here to put a smile on someone’s face this holiday season! Contact Ann Roushar for the mailing address to ship the gift.
  • Cedar Valley Angels, a few of their members were in attendance. CVA is located in Waterloo, and they shared a little about their mission and who they serve up north.
  • Stuff the Truck fundraiser on November 28th-Junior League of Cedar Rapids and Foundation 2 Crisis Services are partnering to serve young people aging out of foster care and hosting a fundraiser at Craft’d on November 28th from 7 am -2 pm. Attendees who donate item(s) on Giving Tuesday, will receive a free beverage, courtesy of Palmer Group.  The supplies donated will support young people in establishing independence after foster care.

Our October luncheon was such a special experience for everyone who attended. If you would like to sign up to learn about upcoming events or needs that AMP may have, please send an email to:


We hope you enjoyed our 2023 breakfast celebration!

Although we don’t have everything all set for our annual celebration…we DO KNOW that it will be held on Thursday, September 26, 2024!

Send an email to Ann Roushar to save your seat for next year!!


How To Drive Your Own Mindset For Success, Nicole Eales, PWN Board Member

We have all heard the phrase ‘You are what you eat.’ What’s fascinating is that this truth goes much deeper than food. The reality is that our lives are created and led by the choices we make, the people we surround ourselves with, and what we think about.

The wonderful world of science has been researching the human brain for years. Our brains have many electrical pathways called neural pathways. Any event or action in your life will create a pathway. Think of these pathways as RUTS in the road. Your tires will be drawn to follow the ruts in the road, right? Your mind is the same way. Once you create a pathway or rut in your brain, your thoughts will follow that path. Unfortunately, if you experienced trauma, something sad or something negative, then your mind will follow the same pattern. I know you can think of someone in your life right now that seems negative all the time. Or the friend that constantly has bad things happen to them. These are the ruts in action. What about your friend that always seems upbeat and the friend that seems to get lucky in life? These are the result of pathways created inside their brain that have shaped their lives.

Now let’s get to the good news. You can create your own narrative. What type of person do you want to be? What type of life do you want to lead? I don’t know about you, but back-to-school prep makes me think about fresh starts. It’s a time to re-evaluate my goals and create patterns in my life that align with who I want to be. What kind of ruts do I have and what ruts am I creating?

Taking ACTION is the way to create your new pathway. There is nothing “fake” about faking it until you make it. It’s time to decide who you want to be. Just start doing it and you’ll see that the world is your oyster.

CHEERS to my fellow women (and men) creating new neural pathways to achieve your goals and dreams.

PWN Presents: A Celebration of Women Helping Women

We are officially gearing up for our 2023 PWN Breakfast Celebration, which is taking place on Thursday, September 28th from 7:30 am – 9:30 am at the National Czech and Slovak Museum.

This annual event is to celebrate some incredible women in the community. The PWN Scholarship Foundation is a nonprofit entity of Women Helping Women. Each year we provide monetary scholarships to local nontraditional students who plan to complete their undergraduate educations and we will acknowledge these amazing women during breakfast.

We are currently looking for sponsor partners who believe in women pursuing their education goals and would like to help us celebrate them!

This year we have not ONE but TWO amazing speakers! This dynamic duo is going to make the attendees feel uplifted and energized!

Sarah Cronk, and Sydney Reickhoff started their entrepreneurial dreams at the ages of 14 and 15!

Sarah is the founder of Generation Spirit, a national nonprofit dedicated to breaking down barriers between young people with and without disabilities. In addition to her work with Generation Spirit, Sarah is a nationally recognized writer and speaker whose work has been featured in People Magazine, on CNN, in the New York Times, and on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Sydney is the 24-year-old CEO of Almost Famous Popcorn Company, a gourmet popcorn brand she co-founded at 14 years old. Almost Famous Popcorn is an Iowa-based company with a nationwide presence. Sydney is a graduate of Stanford University. She highlights her experiences as a young woman in business through a personal brand called The Popcorneur, with the aim of inspiring other women and young people to pursue their dreams.

If you would like to be a sponsor partner this year, please direct comments and questions to Ann Roushar.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Diane Smith, VenuWorks

May is mental health awareness month. Many people assume this is just in reference to psychological disorders, however, mental health includes our emotional, social well-being, and our psychological health. Just like physical health, we all experience mental unhealth in a spectrum of ways. 

But let’s chat about our psychological health, specifically mental health disorders. There are four main mental health illnesses that include mood (depression), anxiety, personality, and psychotic disorders. Women are more prone to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

Mental health disorders have carried a stigma for many men and women. Historically, those with an illness are seen as weak, crazy, and just need to “suck it up.” However, this viewpoint is harmful and thankfully individuals’ perceptions have started to change. 

Living with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or any other mental health illness does not diminish you as a woman, a mother, or as a person. I am living with anxiety and depression and have struggled with my self-image. When I started working in corporate America after being in the non-profit sector, I was paralyzed with thoughts of not being enough. How was I going to be seen as a professional woman when I battle anxiety and bouts of depression that make it hard for me to function? 

It’s okay to not be okay. It is okay to take medicine and to see a therapist. It is okay to protect yourself and your mental health. Simone Biles made headlines when she withdrew from the Olympics to protect her mental well-being. I am living with anxiety and depression. I am a suicide loss survivor. I am a champion and a voice for all individuals living with mental health illnesses. 

If you are struggling, please seek support. You are not alone. Our community has many resources for all. 

  • Talk to a physician about medicine.
  • Seek a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. 
  • Reach out to your support group – friends and family. 
  • In the dark moments, don’t forget to breathe and acknowledge that this is simply a moment in time. It might not be okay right now, but it will be okay eventually. 
  • Know that you are not alone! 
  • Other helpful tips include getting outside, going for a walk, and snuggling with pets.

Local resources: 

Foundation 2: Crisis Line 1-855-800-1239

NAMI of Linn County –

NAMI of Johnson County –

Thank you to Diane Smith, Vice President, PWN for being a mental health advocate in our community.

Stressed in April, LeeAnn Eddins, LA.Eddins Design

Did you know that Stress Awareness has its own month—and we’re in it?

What a coincidence, this has been a really stressful month for me. Work is busy, school is busy, home is busy… and it’s tax time… so maybe that’s why the National Institutes of Health identify April as Stress Awareness Month.

Are you aware of your stress?

I know I am. And I’m pretty sure everyone in my house is aware of it, too. But what do we do about it?

First of all, what kind of stress are we dealing with?

If my mind won’t shut down at night mulling over the meeting with my accountant, that’s situational stress. But when I get out of bed to distract my mind only to find myself endlessly scrolling and then worrying about not getting any sleep, that’s what experts call cascading stress. We’ve all been there. It’s when we stay there stressing over one thing after another for days and weeks on end that it becomes a problem.

Chronic stress is common in our modern world and leads to a host of physical, emotional, and mental problems. It can increase heart disease risk, cause digestive issues, and lead to chronic headaches, backaches, and fibromyalgia, to name a few. It leads to depression, anxiety, and burnout. Who needs that?

The best thing to do is stop it before it becomes chronic.

Consider the source: Identify whether the source of your stress is situational and temporary, like an Easter dinner at your house this year, or an external situation that is out of your control, like world peace. At some point, you must let go of what you cannot control. For most of us, it is a non-stop succession of situational stressors related to career, family, finances, health issues, and aging parents that lead to a chronic condition. But once you know what’s causing the stress you can take steps to manage and reduce it.

  • Gain some stress-busting skills:
    Prioritize self-care.
     Take time for yourself. Recharge and engage in activities you enjoy. Pamper yourself or lose yourself in a favorite hobby. Take up pickleball or bird watching. Do something you love to do and don’t apologize for it.
  • Set Boundaries. Keep a clear boundary between work and personal life. Be careful with commitments and make sure you leave some room in your schedule for play and downtime. Regulate your waking and bedtimes to get plenty of sleep. And with relationships, like a disagreeable uncle, set limits on visits or conversation topics.
  • Learn to say “No.” You don’t have to do everything others ask of you. Or expect of you. Or that you’ve always done. You don’t have to do everything you want to do, either. Just say no. It gets easier with practice. One way to say no is to cushion your response with a recommendation that gets the need met. For instance, you could say “I’m sorry I can’t run the spring potluck this year, but you might contact…” and then recommend someone who might be willing to take it on. You can also delegate. Ask family members or others to take over a task. Give up on the micromanagement though, ’cause that will defeat the purpose and stress out everyone.
  • Get moving. Since stress is the natural “fight or flight” response, taking a brisk walk will dissipate the adrenalin and oxygenate your system. It will do you good and your dog will love you even more. Regular exercise and physical activity can reduce stress and boost your mood. It can improve your health and resilience.
  • Get social. Build a positive social network of friends, colleagues, and family members who can provide emotional and practical assistance. Also, mind the company you keep by getting rid of toxic friends. You know the ones. Somehow, they get under your skin, cause offense, and in one way or another make you feel bad. You don’t have to remain in that relationship. It can end and you’re not a selfish person for it.
  • Get Help. Self-awareness and self-care can go a long way but if it gets to be too much to bear, seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals can help in managing stress.

Effective stress management requires ongoing effort and some experimentation. Remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Try some different techniques until you find what works best for you.

Thank you to LeeAnn Eddins, PWN Board Member for sharing these helpful tips.

Now Accepting PWN Scholarship Foundation Applications

It’s that time of year when we need your help to get the word out that we are now accepting PWN Scholarship Foundation Applications for the 2023-2024 school year.

We established the PWN Scholarship Foundation in 1992 and we have awarded over $35,000 to women in our community who are completing their AA or BA. Recipients are also provided encouragement and support from the organization’s members.

The application can be completed online. The deadline to submit is July 30th.

The women who are selected to receive the $500 scholarship (we typically choose between 4-5 women each year) are also invited to our annual PWN Presents: A Celebration of Women Helping Women breakfast that we host in September to acknowledge and celebrate their accomplishments.

If there are any additional questions please reach out to our Director of Operations, Ann Roushar at

March Madness in More Ways Than One- Jessie Fergesen, Cedar Rapids Kernels and Waterloo Bucks

In 1939 a high school athletic administrator is credited with coining the phrase “March Madness”; however, it was Brent Musberger who used the phrase during the 1982 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and it stuck.  Personally, I go absolutely nuts for March Madness as a college wrestling and basketball fan, entering staff pools, and watching all three tournaments when I can. Even if you don’t get into basketball or wrestling, March can bring a little madness to all our lives.

Spring Break is often associated with March. Spring Break is supposed to be just that, a break, but for women, is it? Do you truly get a break during this time, or does it just make the rest of your month hectic? Common questions asked by women all over could be, have we booked our trip yet? If you aren’t traveling have you decided what you will do with your kids while they are out of school? Are you taking off work?  What will the weather be like, and can we plan some outdoor outings during spring break? What if the weather causes travel snarls?  See what I mean, madness!

It’s also tax season. No matter when you hear that term, it causes stress. Have you filed your taxes yet?  Do you have all your receipts?  Did you schedule time with your accountant? Are you filing yourself? Ugh! Thank goodness this only happens once a year.

There’s also the WILD weather of March.  Another famous phrase is, March comes in like a lion, and out like a lamb. This March certainly seems to have done just this with winter storms and cool temperatures in the first few weeks of March having us all looking forward to spring.

So yeah, March is a busy month, and it can cause us all a little madness. But what I haven’t mentioned yet and what could be the most important thing in March is to celebrate WOMEN! It’s Women’s History Month and while we can get caught up in all these other events that occur in March, I encourage us all to take some time to celebrate the women in our lives and that also means taking time for yourself.

What have you done this March to celebrate the women?  Here are a few ideas of ways you can celebrate women in your life.

Have a dinner party with your close girlfriends.

If you know of a woman in your life who’s struggling to keep things together, send her a note, a text, or some flowers.

Organize a lunch at work with the women in your office or department.

Get together with your mom, sisters, and/or nieces.

Schedule a massage for yourself.

Get your nails done with a close friend or daughter.

Take an afternoon to unplug.

However you spend March, make sure a part of it is spent celebrating women.