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Ottumwa Stories: Our Hometown Heroes

Published April 17, 2020

In the face of a global pandemic, the Ottumwa community has come together to help and support one another in amazing ways. Here are just eight of the countless people, organizations and businesses who stepped up when they were needed most.


Emergency Meal Distribution Program: When the Ottumwa YMCA and Bridge View Center learned that hundreds of area students would go hungry because they wouldn’t be in school, they stepped up in a big way. They have partnered with the Ottumwa Community School District and the Cardinal School District to create an emergency meal distribution program. Many of the people working in Chef Bob Newell’s kitchen at Bridge View are part-time employees volunteering and donating their time, especially now while the center’s events have been postponed, as well as full-time employees. On Monday, Chef Bob and his crew planned to make more than 2,000 sandwiches and brown bag meals for the school districts. This team effort is making sure no child in our community goes hungry. For more information about the emergency meal distribution program, visit ottumwaymca.com


Wapello County EMA: The Wapello County Emergency Management Agency and Coordinator Tim Richmond have gone above and beyond keeping county residents safe during the COVID-19 crisis. On their website, Wapelloready.org, they are sharing information on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community, facts about who is most at risk of contracting the virus and updates from state, national and international experts. WCEMA also has a strong presence on social media, keeping the latest information available on Facebook, as conditions are constantly changing. And on Thursdays at 6 p.m., join them on YouTube for weekly updates on the COVID-19 response efforts. You can find the link on the Facebook event post. We offer our thanks to Tim Richmond and Wapello County Emergency Management Agency for helping keep our community safe.


What’s For Dinner, Ottumwa?: Kevin Hatfield began the What’s For Dinner, Ottumwa? Facebook group on March 17 to provide public support for our locally owned restaurants and bar & grills. Now operating solely for take-out and delivery during the mandated shut down of eat-in establishments, these restaurants need the business more than ever. What’s For Dinner, Ottumwa? is a place for owners to post their hours and menus and for the entire community to share photos of what they have ordered and from where. You can also ask for recommendations and learn specific ways to help local eateries. As of Monday, the group had more than 3,100 members and is averaging more than 200 posts per day. Add your restaurant information to the group or just let everyone know What’s For Dinner, Ottumwa! It’s one more way we can eat local, shop local and support local.


COVID-19 Response Business Bucks: Ottumwa’s local business owners need our help now more than ever. Greater Ottumwa Partners in Progress has begun a new program to support local restaurants and businesses called COVID-19 Response Business Bucks. For every $100 you spend in the community, you will receive $10 in GOPIP Bucks. Keep your receipts from your local restaurants and businesses purchases (excluding groceries) and email them to shea@ottumwaiowa.com or mail them to the GOPIP office at 217 E. Main St. This is another way to eat local, shop local and support local. For more information, email shea@ottumwaiowa.com or call Shea Greiner at 641-682-3465.


Portzen Constructions & Main Street Ottumwa: A huge thank you goes out to Portzen Construction for their tireless work on Main Street Ottumwa, helping better our community even through these uncertain times. Their efforts will make a huge impact on Downtown Ottumwa and throughout the city.


Local Health Care Workers: Our local health care workers are putting themselves on the front lines of the current pandemic, making them heroes in a time of crisis and challenge. Our heartfelt thanks go out to all the doctors, nurses, first responders and staff who are fighting for our community and communities around the world every single day. They are essential and valuable people, and we appreciate how they go above and beyond for those they care for. Thank you for all you do!


Restaurant & Grocery Store Workers: In the face of this worldwide health crisis, our local restaurants and grocery stores are working diligently to make sure our food needs are met. Their extra effort to keep us all healthy and safe while having shelves stocked and take-out ready goes above and beyond. Support them in return by ordering take out or delivery, and use all possible safety precautions while shopping in their stores. Together we’ll come out the other side as a stronger #oneottumwa community.


Blessings Soup Kitchen: Making sure no one in Ottumwa goes without a meal in this difficult time, Gary Smith and Sheri Locke-Smith have kept the Blessings Soup Kitchen open to all with a need. Many local businesses, organizations and individuals have donated food, supplies and time to Blessings, and the menus and drive-up hours can be found daily on their Facebook page. Donations for the meal will be accepted and a portion of sales from Top Hat Coffee & Entertainment goes to the kitchen, so no one will be turned away if they need a meal. The Blessings Soup Kitchen is one more way our community is coming together and ensuring we will remain strong in the face of crisis.

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