She is a long time River Bend resident that is truly an activist in the Des Moines mid city community. Having grown up in the small town of West Union, Iowa, she loves small towns but says she feels that same comfort here in the Mid City.
When Janelle is not busy with the neighborhood youth at CFUM, she is a member of the River Bend Neighborhood Association, involved in the Empowerment Garden project, a trustee and member of the Trinity United Methodist Church, and runs the childcare program for the ELL class at Trinity.
Mid City Connection sat down to chat with Janelle and her passion for the kids in the Mid City was hard to miss. Having been a school teacher and coach before her current position, she is often asked why she doesn’t go back to teaching. She patiently explains that she feels the most at home at CFUM and gets to teach here every day, not only kids but adults too.
CFUM has a breakfast and supper program that is open to everyone in the city, which has been running for 41 years, but it is just one of many successful programs they offer. Friday Fun Night has been going on for 21 years, and Grinnell College students participate in an alternative happy hour at the church to provide games, crafts and fun for everyone that comes.
Janelle’s favorite thing about the Des Moines Mid City is the food. Food?!? Food is a connector, a tool of communicating in this community. She goes on to tell me about the Vietnamese woman across the street that always has yummy egg rolls, and the family from Afghanistan that leaves delicious bread on her doorstep as a way to say thanks for helping their daughter pass her driving test.
Janelle exemplifies what it means to give back to your community, and wants to remind everyone that there is plenty of work to be done and ways to get involved.
Check out CFUM on the Mid City Connection