New grab bags share valuable community resource information

By Jennifer Bissell

Residents in Allamakee County have a new resource to learn more about agencies available.

The Allamakee Interagency group recently developed informational bags that feature things from recipes to child care resources to money management tips. These bags are available at various libraries across the county.

Lana Dahlstrom, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Office Assistant with Allamakee said the bags are a design of the Allamakee Interagency Group hoping to develop more community partnerships while bringing awareness to services available. 

Currently, the bags are available at the New Albin Public Library, Meehan Memorial Public Library in Lansing, Harpers Ferry Library, Postville Library and the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – Allamakee County office in Waukon. 

Dahlstrom explained the bags are a brainchild of the Allamakee Interagency Group, a collection of area agencies that meet for 90 minutes tri-monthly at the ISU Extension and Outreach Office in Waukon. They average about 15-20 agencies per meeting. 

“As a group we are working on connecting the dots of area agencies to help our community partners grow and thrive,” said Dahlstrom. 

During the February meeting, it was decided to develop informational grab bags, with the goal of reaching more residents, both new and old, to share information about the resources available in the communities. 

“It was mentioned during a meeting I was attending about how to get information out to your community and different ideas were tossed around,” said Dahlstrom. “I took that idea that was shared during the meeting and shared it with the Interagency group. They loved it.”

From there, Dahlstrom and the other agencies worked to put together vital information for the bags. Items include brochures and other print pieces that explain more about the resources available, as well as pens and other items. 

“Our goal is to get information out about these agencies and what they can help residents with,” she said.

At the libraries

The Interagency group decided the best location to have the bags would be various public libraries in the communities. 

“Libraries get a lot of foot traffic with youth after school,” said Dahlstrom. “With wanting to target families, that seemed like a good spot to start.”

Currently, the bags are available at several county libraries. More could potentially be added in the future. 

The Postville Public Library currently has the bags, and Library Director Crystal Duffy said they have potential to have a big impact on those in her community. 

“It’s great to get this information into town because something I’ve noticed is that frequently there are resources available to folks but they don’t know about them or they aren’t in our town. There is also a big technological gap in rural towns, so having flyers, etc. available helps folks who wouldn’t find that information on their own on the internet,” she said. 

New Albin Library Director Brittany Wallace said she appreciates the variety of items in the bags. 

“These bags are beneficial to our patrons because they share a plethora of services that are available locally that the public may not know exists. The bags contain information on how one can be involved in the community through RSVP or mentoring. They can help to answer questions one may have about parenting and childcare or other aspects of consumer science, including recipes and where a person can go to for help,” she said. “Whether you are new to the area or have lived here for decades, the bags have materials for everyone.”

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