Creating a safe workplace for employees has always been important, but now it is more important than ever! The COVID-19 pandemic has created several new challenges, especially for businesses looking to reopen. Medicap Pharmacy is helping local employers bring their employees back to work, safely and confidently by offering on-site COVID vaccine clinics. Medicap Pharmacy has offered flu clinics to employers for many years and realize the role they play to help keep employees healthy.
“As a community pharmacist, we have an established relationship within our community, and we have been a trusted healthcare resource throughout the year, especially during flu season and the pandemic. And now it’s time to offer a shot of hope to local businesses who want to open their doors and bring their workforce back safely. We are equipped and ready to serve employers by offering electronic consent forms and convenient on-line scheduling,” said Cheri Schmit, Director of Clinical Pharmacy.
Returning to normal is something that everyone is ready to do, especially businesses who want to open their doors to customers and bring their employees back to work. To help do this, Medicap Pharmacy offers a link on their website making it easy and convenient for employers to request an on-site COVID clinic. Simply visit the website www.MyMedicapPharmacy.com and click on the “Employer COVID Clinic” tab to sign up.
Since 1971, Medicap Pharmacy has been a leading provider of pharmacy services, and helping Iowans feel their best has been a focus since the beginning. As residents of the communities they serve, Medicap Pharmacy has always been committed to assisting every patient that walks through their doors, and this commitment carries over to the COVID-19 vaccination effort.
About Medicap Pharmacy
GRX Holdings, LLC is in West Des Moines, IA and is the single overall owner of 22 pharmacies in central Iowa, including 20 retail locations, a long-term care pharmacy and a compounding pharmacy. Medicap Pharmacy is distinguished for its commitment to providing expert, personalized health care. In addition to filling prescriptions, GRX Medicap Pharmacy locations specialize in administering immunizations, health screenings and diabetes education. For more information, please call 515.280.2913 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
A creative approach to teaching 5th grade band – from instrument tryout drive-through opportunities for students to driveway duets – has earned Elaine Menke of Lakewood Elementary School recognition as Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Menke was honored at the 28th annual Awards Banquet of the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce on January 22.
An educator for 21 years and a member of the Lakewood faculty for the past four, Mrs. Menke turned the challenges of 2020 into new ways of learning music for 154 fifth graders at Lakewood. Her creative approach began last spring when she talked to fourth graders virtually about band and gave students the opportunity to try-out instruments safely outdoors at Lakewood.
“Some students knew what instruments they wanted to play, but for many who didn’t, we held a drive-through event where students could get a better feel for the instruments and see if they could make a good sound,” she said. “That hands-on experience helped students find their best fit which helps them and their family make a better choice of instrument to learn.”
Now as fifth graders, the students meet for weekly band lessons in small groups and slightly larger groups for band practice. “I’ve had to adjust and be creative in how I teach so we can safely play during Covid,” she said. This year, she notes, flutes seemed to be the favorite choice of students, compared to trumpets last school year.
“I try to make learning fun for them while also building their confidence while they learn,” she said. “I challenge them to learn new things, to develop their music reading skills and to make music as a team.”
She also encourages parents to make home practice fun by showing an interest in the student’s progress, getting sneak previews of what students are practicing in lessons or working on for concerts, and taking advantage of technology. “Technology is great,” she says. “Students can give a concert for their grandparents living far away through FaceTime or Zoom. It’s exciting for the family and the student to share their learning and it builds confidence at the same time.”
Mrs. Menke’s motivation to a career in education came from watching her mother, a mathematics instructor at the community college level, while she was growing up in Cedar Rapids. “We’d have a snow day and she’d take me to classes with her and I’d sit in the back of the room and loved seeing her teach.”
Mrs. Menke earned a bachelor of science degree in music education from the University of Northern Iowa and taught in Southeast Warren, Des Moines, North Polk, and Waukee districts before joining the Norwalk Community School district.
“Teaching at Lakewood is a great experience,” she says. “The staff is focused on making connections with students, are always open to new ideas and willing to try new things. This year has certainly been an experience of many new things.”
Students and families are looking forward to a special night: an evening of three concerts with the musicians divided into groups of approximately 50 for three identical live performances spaced over the evening. She said students performed at a school assembly earlier in December but the February 8 event will be their first “real concert.” This concert will also be live-streamed on the Norwalk Warriors Production YouTube page for family and friends unable to attend.
Mrs. Menke and her husband, Nick, have two sons in the Norwalk district. She isn’t the first member of her family to be named Norwalk Teacher of the Year. Nick, band director at Norwalk Middle and High School, earned the same honor from the Chamber in 2018.
Norwalk High School Senior Adam Serck has programmed a mobile wheelchair for a young child, rides a unicycle and has found time to earn college credit. Those achievements and more have earned him recognition from the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce as 2020 Student of the Year. Adam was honored at the Chamber’s 28th Annual Awards Celebration on January 22.
The son of Paul and Ricci Serck, Adam is focused on the college admission process as he prepares to graduate from NHS in May. Already on his resume is his status as a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship program which recognizes students with exemplary academic records and performance on standardized testing.
His ultimate goal is a career in computer programming and software development, experience he is already developing through the more than 20 credit hours of programming obtained through Des Moines Area Community College.
How can other students have a successful high school experience? His advice: “Figure out what makes you happy and do it. Don’t do what other people think you should do. That’s how I found programming. I liked it and I stuck with it,” he says.
He has put the programming expertise to work as a captain of a Norwalk RoboWarriors team, a group he’s been involved with for the past three years. The teams’ most notable achievement this past year has been building three small robotic wheelchairs for young children with disabilities. “I’m proud to say I did the programming which converted remote control buggies into small wheelchairs for very young children,” he says. “The wheelchairs, which the young kids can operate with a joystick, offer them a sense of independence they haven’t had before.”
The RoboWarriors completed the first wheelchair in September and built two more in November and December for area youngsters. The group, which has school sponsorship, has held fund-raisers and also received donations from supporters to fund the wheelchair projects. The projects have led to local television coverage and social media attention.
Adam is also busy currently working with the team to produce a robot for a worldwide competition, a challenge launched in September to build a robot that can pick up a series of rings in a timed activity. The NHS team qualified for the competition’s world championship event in 2019 and for the Iowa state championship event in 2020 when no world event was offered because of the pandemic.
Adam’s other success this past year has been learning to ride a unicycle which he received as a birthday gift. “It is like learning to ride a bicycle all over again but there’s a bike trail near my home and now I ride the unicycle on the trail and passersby sometimes tell me ‘way to go’ or give me a wave,” he says. As if he didn’t have enough other activities, Adam also runs cross country and plays the baritone in the NHS Band, an instrument the band had previously not had until he took it up.
In addition to Adam, the Chamber’s awards event honored Citizen of the Year Crystal Ellis, Teacher of the Year Elaine Menke, Chamber Member of the Year Simmie Buehler, Business of the Year Capital City Fruit and Pivot Award Winner Norwalk Community School District.
Norwalk’s Capital City Fruit lost nearly a third of its business in just one week in March when the food services industry – restaurants, hotels, hospitality companies - shut down due to Covid 19. The quick response of the company’s leadership and its 150 employees to move in new directions with new products and new delivery has been recognized with the 2020 Business of the Year Award by the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce.
The company, now in its 72nd year, had been distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit and produce annually to dozens of clients, primarily in the Midwest. The dramatic changes impacting those businesses, such as elimination of indoor dining, had immediate impact on the company. So, leaders of the family-run business Brendan Comito, chief operating officer; Christian Comito, president & CEO; and Kieran Comito, vice president for purchasing, moved quickly.
“Within a week we implemented our first major change, selling produce via Big Commerce for delivery in Central Iowa,” Brendan Comito said. “We had previously tested the concept of selling nationwide through Amazon but now we had to move fast to implement.” The company first marketed fruit and vegetable products in Central Iowa, promising next day delivery. More products were added and eventually the company noticed some of its products, such as fruit baskets, were being sent to New York City hospitals and other groups fighting the virus.
A second major change followed quickly when the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded Capital City Fruit a contract to produce food boxes for a USDA program that provides nutritious foods to food insecure families throughout the Midwest. “We were proud to be a part of that program,” Comito says, adding that he had visited several food box distribution sites and saw families who never expected they would face such problems receiving the food boxes.
A third positive impact for the company was participation in the Paycheck Protection Program of the Small Business Administration which enabled companies with less than 500 employees to secure very low interest loans for payroll and some other operating expenses. That program carried the company through Spring when other strategies of the business began having positive impact. “We did not have to lay off any employees and, in fact, we did some additional hiring over the summer due to our new products,” he said.
Capital City has continued to participate in later rounds of the USDA program as a sub-contractor providing fruits and vegetables to supplement boxes of protein-heavy foods like beef and chicken. In addition, the company has helped area food producers become sub-contractors for the E-commerce online store, such as Norwalk’s LaQuercia which makes high quality artisan salami and dry cured meats; another company that produces tofu products and another that sells plant based proteins.
At the same time, Capital City Fruit has continued a donation program to area non-profits which it implemented decades ago. Fruits and vegetables from growers are inspected on arrival and items that are less than perfect in appearance but still good quality and nutritious are set aside for donation to local organizations, such as the Salvation Army, DMARC Food Pantry, Catholic Worker House, St. Vincent de Paul Society and Food Bank of Iowa. “This is an important way to avoid food waste and meet the needs of families by helping these organizations provide good quality produce to their clients,” Comito said.
Comito praised Capital City Fruit employees for their flexibility in responding to the frequent changes in direction during the months of the pandemic. “I believe we have the best team in the entire produce industry right here in Norwalk,” he says. “They are ready for any challenge and we see a successful 2021 ahead for us. We are honored by the recognition from the Norwalk Area Chamber and we know there are many companies locally and regionally that have experienced challenges this past year. We share this honor with them.”
A Partnership Perk from the Greater Des Moines Partership
The Greater Des Moines Partnership has a Small Business Resources Hub to help small businesses grow. The Hub provides a one-stop-shop for small businesses to find resources relating to legal, accounting, finance, marketing, networking, staffing and hiring, and more. The creation of The Hub was the result of research-based decision-making that helped determine how to most effectively serve small businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM).
The Hub provides a wealth of resources and helps build on DSM’s status as a great place to grow a small business, including technology companies that would be considered high growth-startup companies.
The Hub is easy to use, with categories organized based on research to help determine what is most useful for small businesses and how they can best find those resources. The Small Business Resources Hub can be accessed at DSMpartnership.com/growing-business-here/business-resources/small-business-resources.
Additionally through these unprecedented times for small businesses, The Partnership offers small business resources on it’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Hub to help them take steps that can help to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic as they continue to do business. Find resources to help your small business at DSMpartnership.com/covid-19/small-business-resources.
Norwalk Area Chamber President for 2020 Travis Stanley presents the Chamber’s 2020 Citizen of the Year Award to Crystal Ellis following the Chamber’s virtual awards event January 22.
As a volunteer for the Norwalk Area Ministerial Association, Crystal Ellis has become the community’s chief navigator, creative problem solver and moral support for hundreds of residents, leading to recognition by the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce as Citizen of the Year for 2020 at the Chamber’s 28th annual Awards Banquet January 22.
Already a key link in the community for families needing assistance, the impact of the pandemic since Spring 2020 has made Crystal even busier making more of a difference. “My role has been to reach out to families who need help, who need a step up to get through this challenging time,” she says. “For many, that means help maneuvering the social services system, where to get help with rent, where to find affordable car repair, what groups can provide food assistance. The Norwalk Area Ministerial Association can help with many of these, too.”
As a result of Crystal’s leadership, hundreds of Warren County families have experienced support through various projects over the past 13 months. The Ministerial Association is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, meaning donations, which are essential for its services, may be tax deductible.
Well known among the Ministerial Association’s projects is the Association’s ministry through the Norwalk Area Food Pantry, hosted by New Life Lutheran Church. Getting food to families today involves new delivery methods and thankfully many donations, Crystal explains
“We have partnered with the Food Bank of Iowa since 2018, bringing a Mobile Food Pantry to Norwalk on even-numbered months. Since April, when in-person activities became limited for pandemic safety, we began drive-through food distributions with volunteers loading 40 to 50 pound boxes of food into client vehicles, an average 150 cars each month, to help area families,” she says. The boxes provide non-perishable goods, fresh produce, frozen meat, proteins, eggs and/or milk.
Another project under Crystal’s leadership has been organizing Food Rescue which involves deliveries of food to two subsidized apartment complexes in Norwalk. “With support and donations from Fareway and Kum & Go we deliver food items three times a week to the complexes, stocking refrigerators in their community rooms where residents select items without charge,” she explains.
Crystal again coordinated the 2020 Warrior Giving Project, the new name for the traditional Christmas-time donation partnership between Norwalk Community Schools and the Ministerial Association. In 2020 the project provided gifts to over 200 children and help for over 80 area families with necessary items, all donated by members of local churches, businesses and families. The Warrior Giving Project also coordinated the donations of 30 artificial Christmas trees to families who didn’t have trees to decorate until the group got involved.
After a career as a retail district manager and in banking plus 10 years as an education and outreach director for a local church, Crystal began volunteering with the Norwalk Area Ministerial Association full time. “I felt this was something God has called me to do and that I could contribute with my career background,” she says. “A big part of this role is logistics and I’ve learned that anything is possible with God’s guidance, volunteers and dedicated leadership. This community is so wonderful and it’s a long-standing part of our culture that we take care of each other. We know we need to lift each other up.”
Crystal was among six citizens and community organizations honored at the Chamber’s virtual event January 22. The Chamber honor is especially fitting for Crystal whose husband Jim Ellis was Norwalk Area Chamber president in 2000 in the early years of the awards program.
Pet Supplies Latest Way Norwalkians Can Help
The newest project of the Norwalk Area Ministerial Association – Warrior Giving Wednesday – will kick off with treats for a special audience: the pets of Norwalk area families.
The first Warrior Giving Wednesday, a new project to encourage donations to meet local needs, will be a pet supplies collection event on Wednesday, February 10. Donors are invited to drop off donations between 3:30 & 5:30 p.m. at Norwalk Christian Church, 701 Main St. Later in February, the items will be given to area families to help meet the needs of pets during pandemic challenges in their households.
Especially needed at the February 10 drop off are dog and cat food, both dry and canned, cat litter, dog and cat toys and treats. Volunteers will be on hand to help unload donations.
The February 10 event is the first in a series where donors can contribute such items as shoes, cleaning supplies and full-sized toiletries on the second Wednesday of each month. Watch the Warrior Giving Project Facebook page to see each month’s needs. The Norwalk Area Ministerial Association has a 501(c)3 designation so donations may be tax deductible.
At Medicap Pharmacy, we are honored to be able to provide vaccine and be a part of the solution to the pandemic. We are working extra hours to administer the vaccine as quickly as possible. We ask people to continue to have patience with us and the process as there is still a lot more demand than supply. Our pharmacies are experiencing a high volume of calls, and we encourage everyone to visit our website or your county’s public health website to stay informed. Our stores do not have waiting lists or any information that is different than what is shared on our website: https://www.mymedicappharmacy.com/factsaboutcovid-19vaccine
The vaccine is available by appointment only and based on vaccine availability. We cannot schedule appointments when we are out of vaccine. If there are no appointments available, if the calendar is disabled or if the form doesn’t allow submissions- this means that we are out of vaccine. Please check back periodically as additional appointments will be added as vaccine becomes available.
Please note: If you do schedule an appointment with us, we will reserve a dose of vaccine for you and there is no need to book an appointment at other vaccine providers. If for some reason our vaccine supply is short, we will give you priority with our next shipment and honor your appointment reservation.
We look forward to the day when we will have ample supply and be able to give a vaccine to everyone who wants one!
GRX Holdings, LLC is located in West Des Moines, IA and is the single overall owner of 22 pharmacies in central Iowa, including 20 retail locations, a long-term care pharmacy and a compounding pharmacy. Medicap Pharmacy is distinguished for its commitment to providing expert, personalized health care. In addition to filling prescriptions, GRX Medicap Pharmacy locations specialize in administering immunizations, health screenings and diabetes education. For more information, please call 515.440.1270 or
The innovative, flexible and often courageous response of the Norwalk Community School District to the massive challenges of the Covid 19 pandemic has earned the District the 2020 Pivot Award of the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce
The Pivot Award, created by the Chamber as a special one-time only recognition of a local organization’s courage and leadership amid the pandemic year, was presented at the Chamber’s 28th annual Awards Banquet, attended virtually by more than 125 community leaders on January 22.
District Superintendent DT Magee said the award honors the achievements of the district’s 3,299 students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in six buildings, its 235 classroom educators, 254 support staff members encompassing administrators, counselors, nurses, custodial teams and transportation drivers and the NCSD Board of Directors. And, he adds, “The parents who supported their children and the district’s decisions and activities have been critical to our achieving a successful school year which began in March 2020 and is continuing daily during the months of 2021.”
The district began the 20-21 academic year in late August with in-classroom learning, after halting classes in spring 2020 as did all Iowa school districts when the coronavirus dangers were first reported in the state. Many traditional activities took on new looks after March such as a socially-distanced commencement for the Class of 2020 at the football stadium, a state 3A high school basketball championship won by the Norwalk team in a virtually empty Wells Fargo Arena and a state baseball championship in a socially-distanced Principal Park, and even changes in such basics as morning opening procedures and lunchroom logistics.
“We are so pleased that this award recognizes all the efforts and experiences of our staff, our students and our community since March and into this school year,” Magee said. “Everything that has happened demonstrates more great examples of the community spirit and commitment to education that make Norwalk such a special place.”
Magee said the district, identifying itself as a professional learning community (PLC), is focusing on collaboration to develop and implement policies and procedures to meet education goals during the pandemic. “Our administration team collaborates with building leadership teams and ultimately with educators and staff members to determine what will work and to implement it successfully. We’re also pleased that parents provide ideas and input as we all work through this challenging year together.”
The district’s mission – Growing Learners and Leaders – has been the foundation for the successes that have led to the Chamber’s recognition, he said. “We’ve defined a portrait of our students as learners, encompassing self-awareness, self-direction, social awareness, strategic thinking and connection. Together, everything we’re doing this school year and beyond carries out our mission and assures that our students are successful learners as we strive to meet the theme for our district this year: ONE – One Family, One District, One Community.”
The award was accepted on video at the Chamber’s virtual event by faculty members and students: Kaden Major, Kamryn Barr, Sumaya Ali, Mason Anderson, Ava Ruther, Savana Miller, Sydney Jackson, Olive DeRocher, Sophia Stevens, Karlin Fletcher, Janet Dirks, Russell Place and DT Magee.
NCSD LAUNCHES A NEW WEBSITE...TAKE A PEEK
Ten amazing ways the Norwalk Community School District has achieved amid the pandemic:
A business leader invests in location, inventory, strategy, planning, skills and more but the most important investment is the leader’s investment in people, especially themselves. Barbra Ranck is helping leaders make that investment through her business, Courageously Imperfect Life Coaching, a new member of the Norwalk Area Chamber of Commerce.
Ranck launched the business in early spring 2020 after a career in corporate leadership and employee development. Three years earlier she had become a certified life coach, an experience that led her to evaluate her own career experiences. “I began the life coach process to add value to the work I did for my employer but through the process I began to see how I could develop my own career,” she says. “I wanted to help others derive the passion, energy and satisfaction that I was experiencing and to achieve balance in all aspects of their lives.”
Since early April, Ranck has been consulting with individuals and small groups in a variety of programs, using live streaming for personalized sessions, a delivery strategy timed perfectly with the virtual environment of the pandemic environment.
Much of her work in helping business leaders invest in themselves and in their own teams centers on the Enneagram, a nine-types model in which she is certified. Participants take an assessment to start to identify their primary approach to situations and surroundings. Ranck is working with several individuals and local organizations to share the Enneagram tool with staff.
Depending on the assessment, participants may be identified in such terms as helper or reformer or motivator or thinker or enthusiast or peacemaker. “We need all types for organizations, from businesses to associations to community projects to educational institutions to family groups, to be successful,” Ranck said. “It’s important to understand that each of us has elements of several types.”
One of the most valuable outcomes for organizations using Ranck’s consulting services is the identification of unproductive activities, especially venting. “Certainly, a little venting can be helpful and motivating, but the risk for businesses and for their people is that venting begins to take away from productive time,” she said. “A tool such as the Enneagram can allow a person to see very clearly their own personality and, when done by a group, can enable people to learn how to see each other’s perspectives very clearly by understanding each other’s personality. When we learn to see each other, we develop common ground and move away from venting and together toward goals more quickly.”
The results, she says, can be achievement not only for the individual but for the organization. “When you understand and appreciate the personalities and strengths people bring to an organization of any size or structure, you begin to understand when the group will struggle and when the group will shine. The result is satisfaction and success for everyone.”
In addition to consulting one-on-one and with small groups, Ranck has an eight-week program for young adults, also done virtually, with a goal to help both college students and adults new in careers evaluate their strengths.
Ranck can be reached at Courageously Imperfect (CI) Life Coaching at email@example.com or 515-778-6489.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership announced #DSMlocal, an initiative to drive more investment to local small businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM). The campaign will aim to showcase the crucial role small businesses play in DSM and inform the public about the benefits and opportunities of doing business locally — all to help small businesses thrive. The campaign builds on the successful DSM Local Challenge launched by The Partnership and Catch Des Moines that took place throughout the spring and summer and garnered more than 40 million impressions on social media.
“Supporting local businesses during this turbulent time is more than just completing a 7-day challenge,” said Meg Schneider, Executive Vice President of Business Resources and Community Development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our community and make DSM more vibrant, and now is a critical time to come together to support local restaurants, retailers and all local businesses during this difficult time to keep our region strong.”
The Partnership has created a DSM Local Toolkit for local businesses to utilize and promote DSM Local, including plug and play content, graphics, videos and more. There is also a series of posters and flyers with graphics for individuals and businesses to print, hang and share to support the movement.
Those interested in participating can use #DSMLocal on social media to share how they spent their money locally and lessons they have learned along the way, or promote a new favorite local shop and encourage others to support these companies. DSM Local purchases could be as easy as ordering takeout or delivery from a local restaurant, purchasing gift cards from local retailers or restaurants online or purchasing season passes to local attractions and museums.
Find more resources on The Partnership’s website and make sure to use #DSMlocal on social media.