Giving opportunities for homebound residents

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Lori Barry, a retired registered nurse with 35 years at the Guttenberg Municipal Hospital and Clinics, sews together a face mask for use at the hospital and clinic. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Neighbors Susi Nehls and M.J. Smith are teaming together via e-mail and coming up with innovative ways for community members who need to remain isolated in their homes but still have a desire to help the needs of our most vulnerable population. 

Joanne Hedemann, Principal and second grade teacher at St. Mary's Immaculate Conception School, noted, "Our families with school-age children are being hit the hardest. The sudden closing of Iowa schools has created an additional strain on household budgets." 

Hedemann is working from home and has requisitioned her granddaughter's desk and is working hard to find online resources to meet the educational needs of her students. 

Ongoing recommendations for social distancing and mandated business closures by Governor Kim Reynolds have left many Iowans in a state of panic and confusion. Many residents feel helpless and would like to assist those in need but do not know how.  

Seamstresses in action

Guttenberg Municipal Hospital and Clinics is accepting hand-sewn facemasks from area seamstresses. The masks are to be used as a first line of defense in lower-risk situations. For instance, they could be used to cover N-95 masks to keep them clean, allowing them to be used for longer periods of time. The masks can also be used by some hospital employees and for visitors.

Guttenberg Hospital Auxiliary members were sewing the masks until they were asked to temporarily halt production. Amy Speed, Director of Marketing & Development, Guttenberg Municipal Hospital & Clinics, commented, "As you know, things are changing on an hour-by-hour basis it seems. And, just this morning, we’ve decided to accept masks again, and would like seamstresses to continue to sew them. The reason MercyOne pulled the masks was to be sure that they were protecting people properly, and the decision was based on guidelines of the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control. However, we’ve decided that we can still use them in low-risk situations with non-critical patients, reserving our personal protective equipment, so please ladies resume sewing them!" 

Instructions can be found online at Printed instructions can also be found elsewhere in this issue.

The hospital requests completed facemasks be placed in a Ziploc bag.  Please call the hospital at 563-252-1121, and they will have someone come out to get them from your vehicle. 

Additional ways to help

Nehls commented, "Folks who want to help, but from the comfort and safety of their own homes, can do so by donating to local relief work." 

M.J. Smith, Director of Affiliate Foundations for Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD), added specific ideas for donors who want to make a direct local impact right here in Clayton County. She said gifts can be sent to: 

Family Resource Center - 514 S. River Park Dr., Guttenberg. Donations will be used for Guttenberg area needs. 

Clayton County Food Shelf - 100 W. Hill St., St. Olaf, IA 52072 

Shepherd of the Hills (Crisis Fund) - 100 W. Hill St., St. Olaf, IA 52072 

Garnavillo COVID-19 Meal Delivery Project, C/O Garnavillo Fire Department, PO Box 185, Garnavillo, IA 52049

Smith also noted, "For donors who prefer a regional approach, the CFGD fund is also at work." 

Nehls shared, "The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque which has funded disaster relief in the past (for example, after a damaging tornado hit McGregor in 2017), has once again sprung into action to gather funds for disaster relief, this time to aid those impacted by the coronavirus. The current Diaster Relief Fund will be targeted to help those in the Dubuque region who are most affected by the virus outbreak, but whose needs are not being met by other sources. For more information, see

"It is no surprise that this is a well-thought-out relief effort, with its oversight committee and grant making all very visible to donors. This is something not often done by other relief fund collectors.

"If the Federal government follows through with its plan to send checks to some or all Americans, a donation idea becomes even more compelling, because at least some recipients of those checks will feel that others are in greater need of that money. 

"These check recipients will appreciate guidance and information on where to send some or all of their federal relief check. Most of us will NOT know how to find places to give that money in order to reach people in greatest need. The CFGD relief fund bridges that gap. And it brings the added benefit of knowing that donations to that fund are helping folks right here in Northeast Iowa, maybe even some of our neighbors," she said.

For additional information call Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque at 563-588-2700. 

Mail checks to: 

Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque

700 Locust Street, Suite 195

Dubuque, Iowa 52001. 

Or online at

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