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Serving Our Community: People of Impact

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

We can’t always pick our callings, our duties and obligations. Yet for some in Iowa City, the needs of the community present an undeniable call to action. Individuals who lead not because they desire fame or glory, but because the community needs it—requires it—lest we suffer as a whole.

These figures are important. Not because they assist the area’s most privileged and capable, but because they have devoted their time to serving the area’s most vulnerable residents—those of us who need help the most, and need it desperately. Those who are unsure of where their next meal is coming from, which bills they might (or might not) be able to pay or where they might turn to for help.

These are the people who answer the phone—who assist our community’s most at-risk and vulnerable individuals when no one else will. They do it not for money, but because they feel they must. And in doing so, these leaders selflessly strive to make our community a better place, regardless of whether or not the public is aware.

They work for organizations full of talented individuals—like-minded confidants who’ve come from different paths, but find themselves in pursuit of a common goal. These are just a few of their stories.

Frederick Newell

Growing up, Frederick Newell wanted to become a sports star or a musician. But those dreams quickly faded when the Chicago high school student discovered he was a soon-to-be father. The opportunities he had once envisioned for himself were seemingly replaced by formula, diapers and onesies.

Convinced that college would help secure a more stable future for his son, he enrolled at the University of Iowa. Once there, Newell worked hard to make a home and raise an infant, but was dismayed at the lack of available resources. “I couldn’t get food stamps or government assistance,” he said. “There was no support for single fathers.”

Each time Newell applied for aid—whether funding for childcare or money for formula—his pleas were met with skepticism. “I was always asked for documentation of custody, proof that my son was really my son,” he said.

Sans funding and a daycare provider, the young dad toted his son around campus, carrying him to every lecture. At best, it distracted Newell, and at worst, it invoked the ire of some professors. The once-stellar student, who graduated in the top three percent of his high school class, was fighting to maintain Cs.

“I struggled tremendously,” he said.

By the end of the academic year, Newell was prepared to withdraw from school. But before he did, a professor approached him and coaxed the young dad to consider a career in social work. “I didn’t have the cour