May 24, 2023 3:08:00 PM

Improving Health Outcomes Through Education

Grace Fitness has a variety of free programs that impact central Iowa through health education and outreach as well as nutrition education and outreach. We have a year-long diabetes prevention program and we have the Better Choices, Better Health program that we are a peer leader to teach through Iowa HHS. 

Read More
Apr 26, 2021 7:00:00 AM

Fighting Hunger One Box at a Time

Access to fresh, affordable, healthy foods is a key indicator of Health & Well-Being (one of the Five Elements of a Thriving Community.) According to Feeding America, people who live in rural areas often face hunger at higher rates than people who live in urban areas. Living in a rural community comes with unique challenges, including lack of transportation when the nearest grocery store is at a greater distance than one mile and the nearest food pantry or food bank is potentially hours away. In rural areas, job opportunities are more concentrated in low-wage industries and see higher rates of unemployment and underemployment. In urban areas, the food deserts exist in areas with higher populations of families with low-income.

Read More
Jul 21, 2020 4:32:47 PM

Working Hard to Transform a Dream into Reality

Shana took on her life goal of becoming an Registered Nurse after getting a push from the people who believed in her and support from Central Iowa Health Works.

“You have to be darn-near psychotic to take on nursing school. It takes so much of your time. They can only teach you so much. There is so much outside of the classroom you need to know to be a safe nurse,” said Shana Plambeck, recent graduate of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Nursing Program.

Read More
Jul 19, 2019 4:06:13 PM

Winning in health

On her birthday one year ago, Imani was excited, because she got to miss school for her annual check-up, with the promise of a birthday meal at IHOP afterward. But this year, the fourth grader received some news from her doctor: She was at risk for developing diabetes.

Read More
Apr 23, 2019 1:14:40 PM

Growing a healthy community

Read More
Mar 27, 2019 12:44:09 PM

The Top-Notch Nurse We Almost Didn't Get

When Rhonnie finished class in the afternoon, she would get into her car, just like other nursing students at Mercy College. But she wouldn’t head home to study. Instead, she would cruise the city, looking for a parking space to spend the night, while silently mouthing that day’s lessons to herself.

Read More
Sep 3, 2018 9:07:14 AM

Through health issue, Syrian mother finds new hope

Read More
Apr 23, 2018 8:10:19 AM

The Power of High School Girls

The middle school girls clustered up on the starting line in their matching purple T-shirts. They had been practicing for weeks, running around and around the block. When the 5K began, the girls took off, but this was no normal race.

Read More
Mar 6, 2018 12:19:05 PM

The Friendship that Saved a Family

Lisa has many lessons to teach her four children.

There’s 13-year-old Solomon—smart but anxious, excited about marine biology. 11-year-old Gabriel loves to read and helps around the house with a smile. Isabella, 7 years old and the only girl, is stubborn and independent—an artist and fashionista. The baby of the family—4-year-old Aziyah—is a natural sweetheart. He plays hard and loves to snuggle. His blond curls attract the family’s hands like a puppy’s fur coat.

Read More
Feb 8, 2018 12:56:45 PM

Children's Mental Health Explained

Ashley Bertsch is an early childhood mental health consultant at the child care centers that participate in Book Buddy. Her position is funded by United Way of Central Iowa's Women's Leadership Connection, which is committed to ensuring that our youngest students have the best start in education and in life.

Read More
Aug 30, 2017 4:34:00 PM

A Smile Saved

Lam came home from preschool with a toothbrush, dental floss, and other mementos from her visit with the Smile Squad. Best of all, she was no longer scared of having someone examine her teeth.

Read More
Apr 30, 2017 5:17:41 PM

Hope is Never Lost

At age 30, Mikeesha came to a crossroads. A single mother of two, she was unemployed and struggling financially—with no clear plan for where to go next.

Read More
Apr 22, 2017 1:35:00 PM

Miracle Mom

Walking across the stage to receive her diploma was the ultimate proof of Minerva’s strength. The 17-year-old was not only graduating from East High School, she was celebrating her survival of a high-risk pregnancy, her daughter’s critical illness, and her own emergency surgery—all within a few months.

That moment was the start of a new journey, a different one from what Minerva imagined a year ago.

When she found out she was pregnant nine months before graduating, Minerva felt sad. She had plans to marry her boyfriend, go to college and become a nurse. Not only would she become a mom as a teenager, but she also had a medical condition called Lupus, which made her pregnancy high risk.

Read More
Nov 23, 2016 2:57:32 PM

Canned Compassion

When Connie Hall first saw fresh produce at her local food pantry, she had an idea: What if she used her talents to recycle those fruits and vegetables into long-lasting products for the community?

Read More
Oct 6, 2016 3:00:00 PM

Born to Farm

Read More
Oct 1, 2016 8:00:00 PM


When Carrie's son Sam was diagnosed with anxiety and bi-polar disorder, she found that accessing help and resources for childrens' mental health was very difficult. After learning about United Way's work finding solutions and resources for childhood mental health issues, Carrie got involved. She now volunteers and speaks to groups to make sure parents and others in central Iowa know help is available, and United Way can show the way.

Read More
Oct 1, 2016 3:00:00 PM


Michael's depression and agoraphobia left him unable to function in society. With debt bearing down and no clear path out, Michael realized he needed help. He found help volunteering to unload trucks at the Bidwell Riverside Center, a United Way funded partner. Over time the volunteering helped Michael overcome his agoraphobia, freeing him to seek additional career education to put him back on the path to stability and success.

Read More