Nonprofits and Civic Engagement in Sioux City

Sioux City has, for a long time, attached great importance to civic engagement and the work of non-profit organizations. Several of those organizations including United Way of Siouxland, the Junior League of Sioux City, and the Mary J. Treglia Community House each just recently celebrated their 100th anniversary. Being created in 1921, that means a 100+ years of efforts towards helping the community grow and thrive.

One of those organizations, United Way Siouxland, works to improve lives by uniting the caring power of our community, as the non-profit’s president Heather Hennings stated.

What this looks like on a daily basis is figuring out what human service issues the community is struggling with and raising money through individual support, business leadership, and donations from employees as well as anyone else who wants to support the cause.

Based on the issue at stake, United Way Siouxland also brings together other non-profits who can help provide the specific services required to solve the respective issues.

Hennings sees civic engagement as the “critical” component in the work of non-profit organizations because none of them could achieve their missions without the help of volunteers.

“We have eight staff members. Two of those eight people are part-time, so we have a very limited amount of professional time to spend,” she said. “By bringing volunteers together, we have thousands of additional hours that we get to direct into the community to solve issues.”

Furthermore, Hennings sees those hours of engagement as crucial for any type of issue that is going on in the area. According to her, gathering support and opportunities for people to provide input and feedback and volunteer their time is critical to moving anything forward.”

What makes Siouxland strong in terms of civic engagement is the community’s open policy for collaboration. Organizations like United Way and Growing Community Connections specifically exist to bring people together. Additionally, Hennings said, “when there’s something that needs to be supported, people will come to the table voluntarily to help support that issue and find solutions.”

Also making Sioux City remarkable in Hennings’ eyes is the goodness of the people who volunteer their time, resources, and connections to help their community. She said, “They do not have to do that. But when they do, you know you are surrounded by good people. You are just surrounded by goodness, and it is hard not to enjoy that.”

While volunteering is the biggest way to engage civically, Hennings said people who have specific ideas or want to improve their leadership skills can also easily get more involved in community organizations. The best way to do so is by joining non-profit boards or organizations such as the Rotary Club or the Siouxland Growth Organization.

By Emily Rotthaler

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