Riverside Links’ Formation
The goal of Riverside Links is to work toward making small towns competitive and to help our citizens prosper. The four pillars of this group are building local leadership, expanding community philanthropy, energizing entrepreneurship, and engaging young people. There is no tax money received and is supported financially from individuals, business, and organizations within each of the three communities. Riverside Links is an all-volunteer group that wants to see our communities thrive.
In 2010, the Iowa West funded a program entitled “Hometown Competitiveness” which gave Pottawattamie County cities the opportunity to attend seminars aimed at keeping small towns alive. From that program, Riverside Links was formed from volunteers that were recruited after the Pottawattamie County Extension Service contacted all the cities in our county to help revitalize small towns. They had representatives from different towns meet in groups of 3-4 towns to brainstorm and work out problems they have and include a game plan to help improve their towns. Carson, Macedonia, and Oakland were to meet together. It was decided that there was success in numbers and it would help all of our three cities if we formed a united group to help all three. Because we are connected with of our school district, we called ourselves “Riverside Links” hoping to provide information and services for all three of the Riverside communities.
We began meeting in March 2012 and the organizational materials came from Iowa State University. Our projects include:
- Developing a website to link the three Riverside communities by having a calendar of local events, links to the thee city halls, the school, churches, and a directory of businesses (if they so choose).
- Creating an informational brochure to help people know what we are about.
- Starting a “Back Pack” program sponsored by the Food Bank of the Heartlands ― Some local church groups have sent money to the food bank and they bring out packets of non-perishable food to send home with needy children on Friday afternoon. Our group did the paperwork to get the program into our school.
- Sponsoring “Shop at Home for Homecoming” last fall ― Several local businesses gave discounts or gifts for people coming to their stores that week, and our group had a drawing and gave out Riverside Cash for winners to spend at those local businesses.
- Hearing presentations by the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation and a group working to promote start-up businesses.
- Encouraging people to put up lighting displays at Christmas ― Riverside Cash was awarded to three winners in each community for their Christmas displays thinking that those who decorate add to the culture and desirability of living in a small town.
- Coordinating with the high school in making sure each of the three communities had student workers for a Community Service Day ― We found over thirty worksites for students to go to in Macedonia, Carson, and Oakland, helped coordinate the day, worked with the students and provided people to give out treats in each town.
One main focus from the “Hometown Competitiveness” program is bringing the children back to their small town to raise their children – keeping the small town alive! We need to build leadership, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and engage our youth in our communities. It is the group’s hope to continue cooperating with the school and other organizations in support of their programs to encourage youth to want to come back to their community as a wonderful place to live and work.
At the present time, the members are former teachers, an insurance agent, banker, business owner, city council member, retired business woman, medical office professional, and church secretary. We welcome everyone in our communities who wish to see our cities succeed.
Our meetings are noted in the “Area Events” page on our website with time and location listed. Everyone is welcome to join us. We appreciate having people with different types of expertise. Macedonia, Carson, and Oakland are three small towns that are good places to live, raise children, worship, and retire. Riverside Links time and money is dedicated to those ends.