Inclusion fall 2013 2

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Cedar Valley Inclusion

Cedar Valley Inclusion



Nancy Newhoff Editor

am writing this column fresh off one of the community’s biggest celebrations of diversity — the second annual Cedar Valley Pride Fest in downtown Waterloo. This year’s event drew more than 3,500 people who packed into the 300 block of West Fourth Street to socialize and celebrate the acceptance that our community has of the LGBT people in the Cedar Valley. An organizer called it an event that fostered inclusion and education. That’s exactly what we hope to accomplish in this publication, Cedar Valley Inclusion. We are dedicated to celebrating the diversity in the Cedar Valley by providing stories of those who have overcome odds, opened their arms to help others or those who have decided to settle here because of the acceptance we provide. This is our fourth Cedar Valley Inclusion magazine. We feature the stories of a Bosnian woman who came to the United States as a teenager and how her family found their way to Waterloo and made this their home. She is now a vice president at a local financial institution. There is the story of a former soldier in the South Vietnamese Army who is now running a restaurant in Cedar Falls. We look at a diverse neighborhood that is reaching out to Burmese newcomers and how Waterloo Schools are helping students with disabilities get involved and learn about business. We are very proud of our diverse community and hope you feel that same pride. Diversity makes this community stronger. It gives us a rich array of restaurants and shops that share various cultures. It teaches our children to look at the world around them with open eyes and to learn from other cultures. Diversity provides the Cedar Valley with a big-city feel in a small-town atmosphere. Congratulations to the Cedar Valley Pride Fest in a successful celebration in August. Our hope is that this celebration continues to grow. We hope you enjoy the stories in this publication. If you have story ideas of other people or programs that help promote or showcase the diversity of our area, please send me a note or email: Nancy Newhoff, P.O. Box 540, Waterloo, IA, 50704, or | 3

Cedar Valley Inclusion


THE VOICE OF IRIS Visionimpaired listeners kept up-to-date through service.


TRIBAL TRADITION ‘Inner core’ remains strong & true for Meskwaki




Coffee shop serves brew, opportunities for special needs students.


UNI adds space, resources for LGBT students.


Joshalyn Hickey Johnson pens historical fiction.

from Bosnia to Iowa home.

Long road

STREETS Program tackles plight of teen pregnancy.

32 CHURCH ROW common ground in faith.

Burmese find


stores cater to clientele’s tastes.




UNI dean feels connected, welcomed in community.

LA LUZ Nuns leading Hispanic center in Hampton.



IPPA brings South Vietnamese flavors to College Hill.

Publisher David A. Braton Editors Nancy Raffensperger Newhoff Melody Parker Project Manager & Advertising Sales Sheila Kerns (319) 291-1448

Contributing Writers Jon Ericson MacKenzie Elmer Meta Hemenway-Forbes Holly Hudson Tim Jamison Pat Kinney John Molseed Jim Offner Linh Ta Andrew Wind


Graphic Designers Amanda Hansen Angela Dark Contributing Photographers Brandon Pollock Matthew Putney Tiffany Rushing Courtney Collins

A publication of The Courier, Waterloo-Cedar Falls. | 5

Cedar Valley Inclusion


‘Inner core’ remains strong & true for Meskwaki


ohnathan Buffalo seems like a gentle man. He speaks softly and thoughtfully, and his devotion to his people runs deep. Buffalo is the historic preservation director for the Meskwaki Indian tribe who inhabits nearly 8,000 acres in Tama and Palo Alto counties. His responsibilities include overseeing the Meskwaki Tribal Museum and dealing with federal and repatriation laws in an attempt to reclaim tribal artifacts and human remains. In August, during the tribe’s 99th annual Meskwaki Indian Powwow, Buffalo assembled a sampling of what the museum has to offer in a tent near the edge of the powwow grounds. “We do this to show that we’re still here and still functioning as a tribe,” Buffalo said of the powwow. “We want to show the elements that still make us an Indian tribe. “We are not as old as the day Europeans discovered us,” he said. “We are thousands and thousands of years older. We do this to show we are still an active tribe, that this is not just a federal home that can be taken away. “We used to eat mastodons, now we eat buffalo and beef. But the core values, our core self, is still Meskwaki, our social customs, our laws, our religious beliefs. No government can terminate that. No power can take our Meskwaki self.” Though Buffalo speaks bluntly about his tribe’s history and current circumstances, there is no bitterness in his words.

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Cedar Valley Inclusion

Most kids in the community come out for the last dance at the powwow. COURTNEY COLLINS / Courier Staff Photographer | 7

Cedar Valley Inclusion

“In Iowa, we’ve always felt respected,” Buffalo said. “Our religious beliefs, our customs are respected. We feel more secure than other tribes.” Other tribes live on reservations under government ownership, Buffalo said, and are only given the right to occupy the land. “We hold the deeds to our lands,” he said. “We paid for every acre. It makes us more secure politically.” The federal government can advise the tribe and make suggestions. “And they’ve always made suggestions,” he said, smiling. The Iowa settlement is the only Meskwaki settlement. “This is the only place I can be Meskwaki. If I was a Christian denomination, I could practice my religion anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world. “To be Meskwaki, I need other Meskwaki. If I move to Chicago, I’m just an Indian. Other Meskwakis make me Meskwaki.” he explained. “It’s like the powwow. The singers can sing all they want, but they need the dancers. And the dancers need the singers. Together they make up the powwow. “We marry each other. We bury each other. We need each other to function. Here is the only place I can truly be Meskwaki.” Asked if he feels constrained, Buffalo shakes his head. “It’s enough,” he said. Though the tribe is closely linked to the Meskwaki Casino Bingo and Hotel, it does not define them, Buffalo said. “It has hardly changed anything. We don’t depend on it, but we appreciate the people who do come. It gives us a better life. It is an economical thing, not a cultural thing. “We are not a casino with a tribe, we are a tribe with a casino.” The settlement also includes a tribal school, a convenience store — tribe members call it the trading post — and gas station. “I didn’t walk here. I drove a car,” Buffalo said. “I didn’t ride a horse or drive a buggy. We have adapted to our environment. “We remember the last Ice Age. We remember when the mastodons disappeared. We had to adapt to European contact. As a tribe, we had to learn English to survive, to work. “We may have changed on the outside but the inner core, the ancientness, is still there. That’s what is most important. My ancestors could never imagine the life we live today,” he explained. “A lot of people say they feel sorry for us,” said Suzanne Buffalo, Johnathan’s wife. “They are sorry we lost so much, lost our culture, lost our way of life. “I ask them if they are still riding in covered wagons

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and living in sod houses,” she said. “Our Meskwakiness is not a point in time. It is enduring. We endure. “We are blessed in a lot of ways. We feel fortunate and very grateful to be able to be the Meskwakis here today, and we are grateful for those who came before us.” “And you can’t tell the Meskwaki story without telling the story of the amazing people of Iowa,” Johnathan Buffalo said. “People leave here pleased to learn we are all part of the same story.” Text | HOLLY HUDSON

Johnathan Buffalo, historic preservation director for the Meskwaki museum, prepared an exhibit of artifacts to display during the powwow.

Above, A bear claw necklace is just one of many items displayed at an exhibit at the 99th annual Meskwaki Powwow. Left, Corbin Shukahosee, 3, dances during the pipe dance at the 99th annual Meskwaki Powwow in August. Right, The Eagle Feather drum group keeps the rhythm during a dance at the recent Meskwaki Powwow.

Cedar Valley Inclusion

PICK-ME-UP Java West serves up coffee — and

opportunities for special needs students


tudents line up at the Java West counter between classes for coffee drinks or other treats. And orders for delivery all over West High School keep coming in after the bell rings. For the past six years, the coffee shop tucked into a corner of the school’s auditorium lobby has served a lot of sleep deprived and hungry students needing a pickme-up. While its found a great niche, Java West’s real purpose has more to do with the students behind the counter who run it during the first three periods of the school day. Students with special needs are involved with all

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aspects of the coffee shop. They deal with customers, make the drinks, operate the cash register, make deliveries and clean up the cafe. Amy Bakker, a special education teacher who works with the students, said there will probably be 12 to 15 students staffing Java West this year. Student workers are paid $7.25 an hour out of Java West’s profits, with supervisors earning $8 an hour. They receive a paycheck deposited into a school-based account. Student can get money out of their accounts to make purchases or pay school-related fees. Students also work with their teachers to come up with organizations or causes for donation.

Cedar Valley Inclusion


Bakker said students go through an application process and are interviewed for their positions. They learn the skills needed to work in the shop from making change to washing tables. Those are included in a curriculum developed by the teachers over the years. “A lot of the curriculum is based on individual needs and what (the students) want to work on,” said Bakker. Much of the focus in high school for students with special needs is on life and employment skills, so the program has been a good fit for many. “It’s a good experience to help you in the real world,” said senior Martez Eller, who has worked in a position supervising other students at the coffee shop. He has learned how to take the initiative — whether that’s cleaning up, taking an order or checking the expiration dates on the shop’s ingredients — rather than always being told what to do. While it looks different than other classes, Eller said he is always learning at Java West. Junior Chase McDaniel has learned many of the duties needed in the coffee shop. He has delivered coffee to classrooms, cleaned tables and chairs, operated the cash registerand made change. The students said the job has also helped them to hone their social skills as well as their ability to listen and communicate. Alena Vezirovic, a 2012 graduate of West High who worked in the coffee shop, said the experience was fun and allowed her to meet new people. “In Java West you will make friends,” she said. “I don’t make friends in a (traditional) classroom.”

In addition, Vezirovic discovered the importance of checking her emotions if she’s unhappy with a co-worker and not showing those feelings in front of customers. “I learned how to just get along with everybody else,” she said. “Once you show respect to people, they’ll show respect to you.” Katie Kimber is a facilitator for Waterloo Community Schools’ Transition Alliance Program, which helps students like Vezirovic as they finish their education and move into the world of work. She helped launch Java West in 2007 when she was a special education teacher and still sees a lot of value in how the program prepares students for work. “They have a great opportunity to learn soft skills for employment,” said Kimber, while working in a “safe environment.” Vezirovic has worked for ABM cleaning offices at area companies for the past nine months. “I clean everything,” she said. “I make sure it’s all spotless.” Bakker reminded Vezirovic that she didn’t always want to come in and work her shifts at Java West as a student. “We said this is a good way to learn the responsibilities,” Bakker noted. “And now when I meet with Alena, she tells me ‘I haven’t missed a day of work,’” said Kimber. Vezirovic agreed that her time at Java West laid the groundwork for her employment after high school. “That’s really good work experience here,” she said. “It can get you a really good job.” Text | ANDREW WIND

Opposite, Martez Eller, left, and Chase McDaniel work at Java West, the coffee shop at West High School operated by special needs students. MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor | 11

Cedar Valley Inclusion


UNI adding space, resources for LGBT students

David Pope, president of UNI Proud, stands in the doorway in the midst of construction in the new office of the LGBT center set to open late fall in Maucker Union at the University of Northern Iowa. MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

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Cedar Valley Inclusion


hen David Pope looks at the construction on the upper level of Maucker Union, he sees more than rubble. Pope, the president of UNI Proud: a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, sees a safe space and a start for great opportunities for gay students at the University of Northern Iowa. “LGBT students at UNI have complex needs when they come to campus. Because we are a minority, there will be things like roommate issues, dealing with harassment and bullying on campus, accessing restrooms and safe spaces,” Pope said. “All of those resources that are necessary for the students to access, they will be able to access at the LGBT center. “ Currently, Maucker Union on UNI’s campus is undergoing $300,000 renovations, which include adding an LGBT center as well as a military and veteran services center to the upper level, said Lisa Kratz, director of Maucker Union. UNI hopes the renovations will be complete in early November. According to Leslie Williams, dean of students at UNI, the LGBT center will serve as a safe hang-out space for the gay community. “I hope first of all our LGBT students will feel like we appreciate them, and we have a space for them to feel safe,” Williams said. “But I think for the rest of our community, I hope it’s a way they can be educated about the community.” The center will include lounge furniture, desk space and a computer for student use. Additionally, there is an office for a graduate assistant to help people who enter the center. There are also book and video resources for the campus. In Fall 2012, an unknown person placed anonymous inflammatory flyers about the construction of the LGBT center in a computer lab on campus. Though campus is accepting for the most part, Pope said there is still discrimination that occurs, furthering the need for the center. “As a queer student at UNI, I have had to deal with some things that a non-queer student wouldn’t have to deal with like being follow, being harassed, having issues accessing spaces and restrooms I felt safe in,” Pope said. “I think that if I had come to the university as a freshman and we had an LGBT center, it would’ve helped me learn how to deal with those issues better.”

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Cedar Valley Inclusion

WARTBURG RECOGNIZED AS GAY-FRIENDLY CAMPUS Wartburg College, the first private college to receive the Iowa Pride Network Award for best college gaystraight alliance, is recognized as one of the “most gay-friendly campuses� in the state. The Wartburg Alliance was one reason the college received a Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Diversity and Inclusion award last spring. The Alliance, one of the largest student groups on campus and a winner of the Student Organization of the Year Award, generates awareness about LGBT issues. The group hosts Coming Out Week in the fall and Gayla Week in the winter, and sponsors speakers and workshops on campus.

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DIVERSITY Black Hawk County’s population is

85.6% white

according to the 2010 U.S. Census, only four of Iowa’s 99 counties are more racially diverse: Buena Vista, Crawford, Woodbury and Polk.


Median age for African-Americans in Iowa was 25.4 compared to the statewide median age of 38.1.

Poverty rate for African-American’s in Iowa is

41% in 2011, compared to poverty rate for all Iowans of 12.8%

The 2011 African-American population of Iowa was 94,028, or 3.1%, of the state’s total population. That is an increase of 125.5% since 1980. Waterloo has the highest percentage of African-American residents of any city in Iowa at

Median annual income for African-American households in Iowa was $26,099 in 2011, below the median for all Iowans of $49,427.

Housing: Some 68.7% of AfricanAmerican households in Iowa rented their homes in 2011 compared to 27.6% for all Iowa households.


And Black Hawk County has the highest percentage of AfricanAmerican residents of any county in Iowa at 8.8 percent.

Average family size for African-Americans was


in Iowa in 2010 was compared to average family size for all Iowans of 2.97.

Cedar Valley Inclusion

Author Joshalyn Hickey Johnson, who is biracial, is writing a fictionalized account of her family’s experiences. TIFFANY RUSHING / Courier Staff Photographer

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Cedar Valley Inclusion


Author writing historical fiction about family experiences J

oshalyn Hickey Johnson remembers as a young girl the secret family visits. More than 50 years ago, as the child of a white mother and a black father, “I had to visit the back door of my grandmother’s house after dark.” “Today, we see so many more racially blended families. As a kid, I never saw a white grandma pushing a brown baby,” she said. Among the first generations of biracial children in the area, Johnson experienced the childhood pain of not feeling like she belonged. “I really wanted to be accepted by both blacks and whites,” she said. In the white community, she was pushed away for the color of her skin. Meanwhile, “my black neighbors would say I wasn’t good at Double Dutch and couldn’t braid tight.” However, African Americans in her neighborhood warmed to the young girl, who by her early school years was the child of a single father after her mother was institutionalized with schizophrenia. They helped with her day-to-day care, ensuring proper appearance for a young lady. “Because my dad was a man, he didn’t know what to do with my hair. Now, there’s not too many black women who will sit back and let a little girl’s hair be kinky and nappy and not help out,” Johnson said, chuckling. “My neighbor, Mrs. Berry, would help and I was so thankful for her and the other black women in my neighborhood.” By the time Johnson, now 56, graduated from high school, her white grandmother had a change of heart and accepted her granddaughter with open arms. Through love and honesty, the two developed “a beautiful relationship,” Johnson said.

“I told her how much it had hurt me to visit her in secret. The first time I said it out loud I cried.” Johnson, retired from Viking Pump after 30 years, is writing a book of historical fiction based on her experiences and those of several generations of the Hickey family. Drawn to Waterloo from Mississippi to work for Illinois Central railroad, they were among the first black families to settle in the area. “The Hickey family has been here since 1905,” Johnson said. “My family experienced a lot of turmoil with racism and the color line.” The book goes back to her great-great-grandfather, a black slave who was killed in the Civil War while fighting for the Confederacy. “You’d like to think he was fighting for the Union — the right cause — but a lot of slaves were sent to battle to win their freedom. That’s what (slave owners) would tell them,” she explained. “People don’t understand that African Americans had to do what they had to do to protect their family.” To bring the characters in her book to life, Johnson relied on oral histories from family members and genealogy research online. “With an African-American background, you run into a lot of dead ends,” she said. Johnson expects the book to be completed in October, and her father will be present at a book signing. The book will be published by locally owned Bahar Publishing, through which Johnson published a children’s book,”Good Morning, Lovey!”, in 2006. That book, depicting a multiracial family, was featured in Ebony magazine. Text | META HEMENWAY-FORBES | 17

Cedar Valley Inclusion


Open, connected, welcomed

Dwight Watson, dean of the University of Northern Iowa College of Education, is shown here in his downtown Waterloo apartment in the Black’s Building in Downtown Waterloo. BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer

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Cedar Valley Inclusion


wight Watson has no pretensions or misgivings about who he is or aspires to be. He’s been dean of the University of Northern Iowa College of Education for three years — the latest stop on an academic career that has taken him from teaching in his native South Carolina to a college deanship at a university in the upper Midwest. He aspires to be a college president someday, but is very comfortable in his position at UNI. He’s at home in his upscale apartment on an upper floor of the Black’s Building in downtown Waterloo One of the most empowering things he did, and does, for himself in this or any other position is to take ownership in, and be very open about, who he is — a gay black man. “You get to shape our own story, paint your own picture, set the stage for whatever the next act is. If they didn’t like the picture, I would have gone elsewhere. “Gay folks have to create their own sphere of safety. If you’re closeted, you give up a lot of your power.” Watson said, though he recognizes it’s easier being “out” in some workplaces than others. But it can head off offensive jokes and awkward, inappropriate conversations in the workplace and other public settings. It compels those he deals with to work with him on his own terms, something he’s aspired to since childhood in the 1960s in Sumter, S.C., the youngest of six children. “Our parents had two goals for us: One was to graduate; and the other was to be baptized,” he said. “I had larger goals for myself. I found out that I had grown up in a segregated, impoverished way and I knew I wanted to find opportunities different than the ones that I grew up in. Education is the access to opportunity. I always did well in school. And because I loved school so much, it was natural that I would decided to go to college and become a school teacher.” He received a degree in elementary education from the University of South Carolina, after which he taught for 2 1/2 years in his hometown. He then pursued and attained his doctorate degree from North Carolina State and taught in the Raleigh, N.C., schools for 11 years. He moved to Minnesota and worked at Hamline University in St. Paul for nine years, working his way up to chairmanship of the school’s department of education. Aspiring to higher education administration, he assumed an associate deanship at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, after which he came to UNI. “What compelled me to come to the University of Northern Iowa was its rich history and legacy around teacher education, preparing teachers throughout the state of Iowa,” Watson said. UNI

prepares 32 percent of the teachers in the state and 37 percent of the principals and superintendents. “So it’s a large-volume program. There’s a lot of historic significance, and I feel humbled and honored to be dean at the University of Northern Iowa College of Education. Because higher education has always been predominantly white, I have learned to navigate in predominantly white spaces. So, as a black person coming into the University of Northern Iowa, that is predominantly white, having mastered those navigation skills, I felt that this would be a good fit.” Those introducing him to the metro area showed him that Waterloo “was a little more ethnically diverse, had a critical mass of black folk, so I felt more compelled toward Waterloo. “And when I got to Waterloo and saw some of the racial divide — between the east and the west (sides) those types of things, it sort of reminded me somewhat of the segregated South,” Watson said. “But it’s a space I felt very comfortable navigating in, especially within the black community and the black church community. All that made me feel welcomed and affirmed. “As a black person, as an academic, I feel connected. But there’s another part of my profile, which is that I’m a gay person,” Watson said. “And as a gay person I haven’t found in the Cedar Valley a context to fit my personal needs. But it’s a place where I can do my work, it’s a place where I can worship; it’s a place where I can feel connected. And those other aspects of me, I’ll find outlets elsewhere. Which is fine. “When it comes to my gayness, when I applied to the University of Northern Iowa, I stated very specifically in my cover letter who I was. I had three principles: A principle of collaboration, intentionality and a principle of transparency. In talking about transparency I explained I was a 47-year-old African-American unpartnered gay male. And I said I’m up front about this because I want to work in a community that is open and affirming and accepting of all aspects of my diversity. “Just having that up front sort of allows for better communication and connectivity.” Also, he added, with Iowa being one of the first “right to marriage” states, “I felt it was a safe place to be who I am. It’s important for people to understand, just like their heterosexuality, someone’s gayness is just one of the many attributes of their person. It doesn’t interrupt or disrupt what they have to do. That’s the type of openness and affirmation that I feel from the people of Iowa. “One of my favorite sayings is, ‘If you embrace Iowa, they will hug you back.’ And I found that to be the case.” Text | PAT KINNEY | 19

Cedar Valley Inclusion

Richard Ly, owner of IPPA restaurant in Cedar Falls, brought the flavors of South Vietnam to the Cedar Valley. BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer


Ly brings South Vietnamese flavors to College Hill 20 |

Cedar Valley Inclusion


s a reconnaissance and intelligence gatherer for the South Vietnamese and the U.S. militaries, Richard Ly’s English and Chinese language skills were invaluable. Ly, who came to the U.S. as a war refugee in 1975, was raised in a well-positioned family in a small South Vietnam village. Growing up, he studied French, Chinese and English. Those skills were put to use when he joined the South Vietnamese army and provided intelligence and information from behind enemy lines in Northern Vietnam. Today, Ly owns and operates Ippa, 925 W. 22nd St., a Vietnamese restaurant in Cedar Falls. His journey has taken him from Vietnam to Georgia, Alabama, Florida, California, New York and Texas before he arrived in Iowa. Ly spent his first year in the U.S. working in a factory before moving to Atlanta to be an assistant cook at a Chinese restaurant. Ly knew he would need an education to build a life in his new country. Travel and work were the best ways to get that, he said. “When you come to the U.S., you got to pick a job and make a living,” he said, adding his English was passable but not strong. “I didn’t have time to go to school, study English, study something else.” Ly saw food as his route to success. Ly worked in kitchens around the U.S. before deciding to open a restaurant. Ly said he had to learn different flavors, techniques and skills before he could run a kitchen. “In Vietnam I was not a cook, I was a soldier,” he said. He spent time in different areas of the U.S. to learn local flavors. Living different places was the best way to learn regional cooking secrets, he said. “You can’t just go one or two days and learn that. You got to stay there and learn their secrets.” Ly’s restaurant offers Southern Vietnamese style cooking, which he says is more spicy, flavorful and uses a wider array of ingredients. Some dishes are served in hot clay pots — still simmering as they’re brought to the table. Ly has returned to Vietnam to visit but says there’s nothing for him to return to. His six brothers all live in the U.S. now. Ly is uncertain whether Iowa will be his final home, but he is happy to live here now. “It’s more quiet. It’s not like a big city with drama. I want to live in peace.” Ly works every hour his restaurant is open. That means 16 hour days on Friday and Saturday. At 65, Ly said he’s proud of the shape he is in to be on his feet that long. “I see people who are 55 years old, they can not walk around much,” he said. “I think it’s because people eat too much junk food.” Text | JOHN MOLSEED | 21

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Number of American Indian areas in Iowa, which include the Omaha, the Sac and Fox/Meskwaki, and the Winnebago. The Sac and Fox/Meskwaki Settlement is the only one in Iowa with residents, totaling 1,062 in 2010.


There are

297 Black Hawk County

The poverty rate for Iowa American Indian and Alaska Natives families in 2011. The corresponding rate for Iowa is 12.8%.

residents who identified themselves as Native American or Native Alaskan in the 2010 U.S. Census, which represents about 0.2% of the total county population. Statewide, only 0.8% of the population is Native American.


The number of American Indian– and Alaska Native-owed firms in 2007. | 23

Cedar Valley Inclusion


Vision-impaired listeners keep up on current events through special service


or most of Debra Musch’s life, she enjoyed sitting down and connecting with her community by reading newspapers and magazines. However, when the Waterloo native turned 29, she lost her sight due to congenital glaucoma. For years, Musch lost connection with the publications she loved reading every day. In 2009 however, her counselor from the Iowa Department for the Blind recommended she listen to IRIS — Iowa Radio Reading Information Service for the Blind and Print Handicapped, Inc. “I like to keep up on my current events, not just locally, but in the world too,” Musch said. Every day, IRIS volunteers from across Iowa read local newspapers and broadcast them for people with disabilities, said Maryfrances Evans, director of IRIS. From 8 to 9 a.m. every morning, Musch listens to volunteers read the Courier, then catches the Des Moines Register and New York Times. “If you’re in a conversation, you should have a clue of what people are talking about,” Musch said. Twenty-five years ago, IRIS started broadcasting from Des Moines and provided free newspaper broadcasting for disabled people. For the last 12 to13 years, IRIS has housed themselves in the Communications Arts Center at the University of Northern Iowa, broadcasting to the Cedar Valley and beyond.

“We know the need is going to grow,” Evans said. “There’s so many potential listeners who have no clue what their friends in the Cedar Valley are doing.” Broadcast through an IPR side channel, listeners contact IRIS to receive a free special radio, since regular radios are unable to catch the signal. From there, listeners can tune into one of seven IRIS broadcast locations and listen to the news every day. In the Waterloo area, 190 residents have a special radio. However, broadcasting isn’t always easy. Evans said a limited amount of people know IRIS exists, and newspapers have copyright laws that make mass distribution difficult. Additionally, not every location receives adequate broadcast signals. More recently, IRIS started collaborating with Iowa Public Television to use some of its waves for broadcasting. But Evans wants cable networking channels to broadcast IRIS, since most listeners already have a television. “We just want to make it easier,” Evans said. Musch said she’s thankful for all of the work volunteers put into IRIS. “I don’t think anyone realizes how much of a help it is to have someone providing such a great service like they are.” To request a special radio, visit http:// for more information. Text | LINH TA

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Cedar Valley Inclusion

IRIS volunteers read newspapers over the air on radio for vision-impaired listeners from the Communications Art Center at the University of Northern Iowa. MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Would you like to become an IRIS volunteer? IRIS has reading locations in Des Moines, Sioux City, Mason City, Cedar Falls, Iowa City, Ames and soon in Dubuque. To add your voice to the reading contingent, call (515) 243-6833. Publications are read at varying times in each part of the state. You will be connected with the volunteer coordinator in your area. If you are not interested in reading on the air, IRIS is always looking for volunteers to help with radio repair and delivery, newsletter preparation and other projects. | 25

Cedar Valley Inclusion


The long road home

Sherry Sabic, who fled Bosnia with her family in 1997, has found a home and financial career in the Cedar Valley. TIFFANY RUSHING / Courier Staff Photographer


hen the University of Iowa Community Credit Union came to the Cedar Valley last year, its leadership turned to somebody who called the area home as its vice president of branch sales and service manager. Sherry Sabic wasn’t a native, though. Far from it. Sherry, born Seherzada Husidic, in Velika Kladusa, Bosnia, fled her native land with her parents and three siblings in 1997. The oldest of the four kids, Sherry — she said she went by that name, even in Bosnia — was 14 at the time. The Husidics landed in Cicero, Ill., a Chicago suburb where an aunt lived with her family in a small apartment. “I’m the oldest of four kids, and I think it was probably

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the biggest shock for me because my siblings were younger and adapted more easily,” Sherry said. The family had lived in a refugee camp in Bosnia and could have turned back, Sherry said. “We had the option of going home or moving to the U.S.,” she said. The family had been through refugee camps before, only to return home, she said. “We’d done that before and had to flee again, and my dad was exhausted,” she said. “The future was uncertain and he didn’t want to put us through that.” It wasn’t a slam-dunk decision, Sherry said, because her family had done fairly well back home before the war had forced them out for the last time. They had “little

“I think all the opportunities are in front of me” farm” with about 10 acres “with cows and chickens,” and Sherry’s father, Ramo, was a gifted carpenter, she said. “It was kind of difficult to leave all that,” Sherry said. But leave they did. After landing in Cicero, Ramo found work as a truck driver. Sherry’s mother Ajnija, landed a job as a housekeeper in a hotel. “We all lived in a one-bedroom apartment with my aunt, her husband and their three kids,” Sherry said. The adjustment wasn’t easy, she said. “We struggled, because we had moved from a situation where everyone had their own room,” she said. “It was hard to understand at that age why my parents did what they did. It was extremely challenging at first. It was even more challenging for my parents, not speaking the language.” The Husidics were a tight-knit family, and Ramo didn’t like the over-the-road trucking job that pulled him away from home for long stretches, his daughter said. “He was hardly ever home,” she said. “He was very unhappy with that job, but it helped get us on our feet.” Some years after the family’s move to U.S., Sherry accompanied her mother to Waterloo on a visit with friends and family who already had settled in the Cedar Valley. Sherry attended a friend’s birthday party and, at that event, met Damir Sabic, a fellow Bosnian with whom she struck up “a long-distance relationship” that ultimately would lead to marriage in 2011. Meantime, Ramo Husidic was looking to get out of trucking, and the family opted to move to Waterloo in 2006. Sherry had researched programs at the University of Northern Iowa and transferred there to finish a college education she had begun at a community college in Cicero. “I thought it would give me a chance to be closer to him,” she said, referring to Damir. “We also had friends and family here. My dad was looking to get away from driving a truck, so it worked out that we all just moved here.” Ramo found a job with Omega Cabinets, where he still works. Ajnija found work at the Beef Products Inc. plant in Waterloo and worked there until it closed in 2012. Sherry worked at CBE Group while she finished her psychology degree at UNI in 2007. The move to the Cedar Valley was easy, thanks to the people of the region, Sherry said, noting a contrast with the Chicago area. “People are a lot more welcoming; I think it’s more laid-back,” she said. “People want to know more about you. Even the people at work, I don’t think I built the same kind of relationships as when you come here.

That’s the first thing that caught me off-guard was how interested people who were interested in me.” Having a Bosnian population in place in the Cedar Valley further eased the transition, Sherry said. “One of the things I liked was we had our own bakeries; You have food that you miss,” she said. It’s also easy to reach, she said. “Everything in Chicago is so far away, and traffic would take you an hour to get to a bakery,” she said. “One of the things that was nice is we had a community here with established businesses.” Having ready access to Bosnian culture facilitated the adjustment that moving requires, Sherry said. Especially for my parents, who don’t speak English, it was nice they had people they could socialize with,” she said. “In Chicago, you had that but it was more spread out.” After college, Sherry found herself drawn back into the financial sector. “I noticed that Regions Bank had a position for assistant branch manager in downtown Waterloo,” she said. She described gauging her chance to landing the job as “a long shot,” considering she didn’t have a financerelated degree. “They ended up taking a chance on me and gave me that position,” she said. The chance paid off and led to a couple of promotions. “I ended up loving it, because you get to help people put them in a better financial situation,” she said. “At the end of the day, psychology is about behavior, and you can use that in any position.” She joined UI Community Credit Union in November 2012, about six months after it had opened its first Cedar Valley branch, at 4728 University Ave. in Cedar Falls. IUCCU’s $2 billion in assets makes it Iowa’s secondlargest, behind Waterloo-based Veridian Credit Union, which has $2.5 billion. “We have a model that works, and we continue to expand,” she said. IUCCU is scheduled to open its first permanent branch, at the corner of University Avenue and Cedar Heights Drive, Sept. 9. The credit union also has plans to open branches in the Viking Plaza in Cedar Falls and on San Marnan Drive in Waterloo in the near future, although no dates have been set for those, she said. “We’ve done extremely well,” she said. She, too, said she continues to try her best. “I think all the opportunities are in front of me,” she said. Text | JIM OFFNER | 27

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Cedar Valley Inclusion


Program directly tackles plight of teen pregnancy


eather Roby has witnessed the plight of too many pregnant “sistas.” That’s what she calls the young teens who come to SiHLE, Sisters Informing, Healing, Living and Empowering. It’s a new pregnancy prevention course for young African-American women at UnityPoint-Allen Hospital Women’s Center under the umbrella of Together for Youth programming. The health educator knows the culture of sexual peer pressure surrounding her own demographic so Roby made it her mission to educate by expanding the program. “I decided to take it to the streets,” Roby said. She pounded pavement, asking faith leaders in the community if she could hold sex education sessions within their doors. “She’s really become the face of SiHLE and the face of the issues in the community,” said Joni Spencer, director of Together for Youth. “She keeps the conversation real, and I think the kids respect her for that,” This summer, six girls, ages 14 to 16, graduated from SiHLE. The program teaches abstinence first, but that doesn’t inhibit facilitators from crafting realistic, peer-pressure situations for the girls to practice.

“Why won’t you have sex with me? I love you,” said facilitator Shinita Crawley, portraying an extremely pushy boyfriend in one of the role playing activities. “I don’t want to have sex. You have to respect what I said. I understand we’re dating, but I don’t want to have sex before marriage,” the participating teen responded. Each girls took turns playing opposite to Crawley, who changed up her character, sometimes pressuring them for more than 10 minutes. “I’ve heard it all,” Crawley said, adding that deflecting this type of pressure is much worse in real life. The girls shared common excuses they’ve heard from male companions to have sex without a condom. Heather Roby “It doesn’t feel right; it’s not as fun; it takes too long to put on; it messes up the mood,” said Christi’auna Harris, 16. SiHLE is a safe, intimate setting where girls can share personal stories with role models like the peer advisors that correct any misconceptions about sex. “Kids seem to be learning sex ed from their friends these days, so I think it’s really important girls are hearing the truth from us,” said Clarine | 29

Cedar Valley Inclusion

Health educator Heather Roby empowers teenagers to resist sexual peer pressure to reduce teen pregnancy rates. MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Ford, a peer adviser and student at the University of Northern Iowa. Black Hawk County has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Iowa, and it’s even higher among young African-American women. Although African-Americans make up 8.8 percent of the county’s population, they count for 48 percent of teens with STIs. But groups like SiHLE have proven their worth. According to a report compiled by Allen Women’s Health center, as the number of Together for Youth programs increase, teen birth rates decrease. In 1995 there were 264 teen births compared with 2011, when teen births dropped to an all-time low of 118. “For some reason, we base everything on, if you have a man, you are somebody. You don’t have your own identity,” said Roby. “(SiHLE) is about empowerment, but it all comes down to self-esteem.” Together for Youth also hosts a similar program for Latino teens called Cuídate, or “take care of yourself” in Spanish. Sessions often focus on challenges facing Latina women like “machismo,” dominating male behaviors, and “marianismo,” the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Erin Cubit, who facilities the group, said Latinos 30 |

often have a fatalist mentality and simply accept life’s challenges as they come. But that’s not the best attitude when it comes to sexual health. “We try to encourage them to move beyond “fatalismo,” learning that we don’t have to have that feeling, and that we can be in control,” Cubit said. What’s unique about Cuídate is facilitators must learn how to incorporate a multitude of Latino cultures living within Waterloo city limits. Cubit said she typically sees teens of Honduran, Guatemalan or Mexican origin whose traditions and perceptions vary drastically. But these group also share a rising teen pregnancy and HIV-infection rate. Cuídate’s curriculum is rooted in HIV-prevention, another abstinence-first program. “The goal is, we want the discussion to go toward, if someone doesn’t want a pregnancy or an STD, then being abstinent is a good idea,” Cubit said. “But if they’re sexually active, we want to make sure they’re protecting themselves.” For more information about SiHLE, contact Together for Youth at (319) 274-6768. Text | MacKENZIE ELMER

Cedar Valley Inclusion



The number of people in Iowa in 2011 who have some kind of disability. They represent 11.4% of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population.

Disabilities by Type in Iowa: 2011 Cognitive difficulty


Population 5 years of age and over

Self-care difficulty


Population 5 years of age and over

Ambulatory difficulty


Population 5 years of age and over

Independent Living difficulty


Population 18 years of age and over

Vision difficulty


Total population

Hearing difficulty


Total Population

$16,135 Median earnings for Iowans age 16 and over with disabilities with earnings in 2011. The median earnings for Iowans age 16 and over with earnings in 2011 without disabilities is $29,533.



Percentage of people 65 and older in 2011 with a disability, the highest of any age group. | 31

Cedar Valley Inclusion


Burmese find common ground in faith

Deacon Zing Kam, left, with the Rev. Carol Teare, center, and chairman of deacons Aung Aung at the Frist Baptist Church after a recent joint service with the Burmese Chin congregation. MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor


he clash of cultures in First Baptist Church could be seen and heard. Members of the church’s traditional delegation prayed in pews next to Burmese immigrants, while the Rev. Carol Teare’s sermon was translated into Burmese by interpreter Thomas Lian. Hymns were sung in Hakha, one of many dialects spoken in the Southeast Asian country. Teare wore a traditional skirt of beads given to her by her Burmese flock, while many of the men wore sports coats made from the distinctive Burmese plaid fabric.

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But despite their obvious differences, the congregation and First Baptist and members of the Waterloo Chin Christian Fellowship have found common ground in their faith. Similar stories can be found up West Fourth Street, too, where congregations such as Sacred Heart Catholic Church and First United Methodist Church have welcomed the community’s growing number of Burmese refugees. An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Burmese now call the Cedar Valley home, with many living near their faith centers in the Church Row Historic Neighborhood.

Cedar Valley Inclusion

The Aug. 25 gathering at First Baptist Church, on the what we can do together. corner of West Fourth and Baltimore streets, was a joint “One of our focuses and goals as a church is to find ways worship service celebrating the second anniversary of the to reach out and integrate ourselves in the neighborhood,” Waterloo Chin Christian Fellowship’s use of the church. he added. “We want to be a congregation that doesn’t just “When we came here were didn’t have a place to show up on Sundays and leave the area but one that is worship,” said Aung Aung, who chairs the WCCF’s embracing of our neighborhood.” deacons. “(Pastor Teare) allowed use to worship here, and Nims said the church also holds a number of classes we are very thankful.” through the USCRI project to help the Burmese refugees Aung, speaking adapt to life in Waterloo. through an interpreter, “For example, a lot of said the Chin church, folks come over here from which now has areas where most of the almost 100 members, fishing was done with previously worshipped nets, and the (Department in their homes around of Natural Resources) was the Church Row not very happy with that,” neighborhood. he said. “We got them Members fled their some poles and taught homes in the Burmese them to cast.” state of Chin — on the Ann Grove, lead case western border near manager for the USCRI India — to escape project, said the office political and religious is providing a number persecution, with most of programs to help going to Malaysia before the Burmese fill their making their way to knowledge gap and to the United States. help both the refugees Work at Tyson Fresh Deacon Zing Kam distributes communion at the First Baptist Church with the Burmese Chin and their Church Row Meats brought many to congregation. neighbors become more Waterloo. familiar with each other. “Waterloo is a nice place to live here and survive,” Aung “We work to enhance the opportunities for successful said. “It’s a very nice place, and the neighborhood is very integration while encouraging them to maintain some understanding.” aspects of their original culture,” Grove said. “We’re doing Rev. Teare sees the arrival of new residents to the workshops on how to be a good resident and hopefully, church and the neighborhood as a blessing. become a good citizen.” “We opened our doors immediately, and they have Community gardens, originally designed to allow the become a very important part of our church as well as Burmese residents grow their own vegetables, have our community,” Teare said. “I’ve definitely seen a growth helped that integration. in diversity in our neighborhoods. We see this as a “That allowed people to see them at work out in the tremendous strength.” gardens,” she said. “It opened up some common grounds, She notes the American Baptist Church shares some common interests.” a common ancestry with the Chin church. Baptist Church Row is also home to Habitat for Humanity, missionaries Adoniram and Ann Judson spent nearly 40 which is starting to work with Burmese residents. years in Burma starting in 1813. “We also want to help revitalize this neighborhood,” said Sacred Heart Catholic Church hosts perhaps the Lindsay Pieters, Habitat’s development and marketing largest group of Burmese Christians in the Cedar Valley, director. “We see a lot of opportunity for families and with many children of the refugees attending Sacred especially for Burmese families because they go to school Heart School. The church also hosts a Burmese Planning and go to church over here.” Action Team through Catholic Charities. A Burmese family will be constructing a Habitat home Across the street, First United Methodist Church on West Park Avenue early next year. provides office space for the U.S. Committee for Refugees “There’s a lot of people who rent in this area,” Pieters and Immigrants, and Rev. Nate Nims has seen a growing said. “We want to see them turn into homeowners and number of Burmese members. stay in this area long term.” “Once a month I preach through a translator,” Nims Text | TIM JAMISON said. “Occasionally throughout the year we do joint services with them just to get more integrated and see | 33

Cedar Valley Inclusion


Grocery stores cater to tastes of their clientele


he phrase “you are what you eat” can, at times, be turned on its head. You eat because of what you are? If you’re an immigrant from Southeast Asia, a student from the Middle East or China, or a construction worker with roots in Latin America, it’s likely you will seek out something familiar when you settle in Iowa. After finding people like you, the next thing is often to find familiar foods. So it’s no wonder that a number of ethnic specialty grocers have opened up shop in the Cedar Valley.

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Take, for example, Zaw Thant, who runs the Lucky Brothers Asian Food Market in downtown Waterloo. Thant opened the store in 2011 and Thant view it as not only a business, but a service to the community. Thant, who is Burmese, has plenty of clients of Burmese heritage, but the store caters to Indian, Chinese, Filipino and other Asian food specialities, as well. Much of his clientele returns again and again, making familiar faces the norm in the store. Top sellers at the store include 50-pound bags of rice and an assortment of frozen seafood. “It’s worked out,” said Thant, smiling.

Cedar Valley Inclusion

Another specialty grocer is the Waterloo General Market, off of La Porte Road. Afi Gangba and her husband, Koffi, opened the store in 2010. Their aisles are a window into the world, with goods from Turkey, Africa, India and Korea. Here one can find soba noodles from Japan alongside Egyptian rice or dried dates from the Middle East. Business has been so good at the market that the couple opened up a second store this summer in the Thunder Ridge Mall in Cedar Falls and plan to offer cooking classes. They also want to reach out to the general population to encourage people to experiment with foods that may not be familiar to them. Even as the custom markets emerge, major retail grocery stores continue to evolve to suit customers. Sailu Timbo, manager of the Logan Avenue Hy-Vee in Waterloo, said the store’s space dedicated to Asian and Hispanic foods has remained much the same over the years, but the depth of offerings has increased along the way. “We always have to sell what the customer wants, otherwise stuff just sits on the shelves,” Timbo said. For example, he said, regional cuisine has become

much more popular in recent years. He cites the current popularity of Hatch chili peppers, a product of Mexico, only in season for a brief time. When the peppers are available, they not are sold in the produce section, but peppers infuse it into things like hamburgers and cheese — or fettucini alfredo in the deli. “That’s a Hispanic cheese going into an Italian dish, that’s breaking all the old rules of how we eat and what food experiences are like,” Timbo said. For the large retailers, change comes in different ways. Veronica Marshall, a spokesperson for Walmart, said the company has a philosophy of being the “store of our community.” In some cases, that means corporate will take into account that a store is in Texas, for instance, and carry product lines that appeal to Hispanic customers. In others, store managers may see local demand for a particular ethnic product and take it upon themselves to order it. “There are quite a few mechanisms that play into what that store ultimately will look like from a community perspective,” Marshall said. Text | JON ERICSON

Opposite, Sailu Timbo, store manager at Logan Avenue Hy-Vee, stocks a selection of ethnic groceries and says the depth of offerings has increased. MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor | 35

Cedar Valley Inclusion


Sister Carmen Hernandez tends children so their parents can participate in a class at La Luz Hispana in Hampton. The center opened in March. ARIAN SCHUESSLER / Courier Lee News Photo

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Cedar Valley Inclusion


bout a dozen women learned how to plant returned after 33 years in Bolivia. tomatoes in containers in June at La Luz The center is at 116 First Ave. NW, and offers Hispana, one of many classes offered a variety of services and classes. Some have since the center opened March 27. included English lessons, morning exercise and With help from interpreter Samantha Kohls, computer skills. A session with an immigration Dennis Carlson of Iowa State University lawyer drew a packed house. Extension in Franklin County went through Carolina Gaytan moved from Texas 16 years the process step by step. ago. She says the center was needed. La Luz Hispana translates as “the Hispanic “I think it’s a very good idea. It’s very helpful. Light.” Some of the Hispanic “Our larger umbrella is people don’t know how to education and a safe haven go about something, and for people to come and feel they can get help here,” welcomed,” said its director, Gaytan says. Sister Carmen Hernandez. The center’s leaders Hernandez is a 1976 hope to offer whatever graduate of Columbus High residents need but would School in Waterloo. She also particularly like to find studied at the University of a lawyer willing to work Northern Iowa. pro bono or to accept She pursued the idea of small payments because opening such a center through of potential immigration previous work at Mercy reforms on the horizon. Family Medicine Residency “We’d like to help get the program. paperwork done and done Beginning in 2008, right,” McCarthy says. Hernandez traveled to Hernandez and Hampton once a week for McCarthy want La Luz two years, helping with a Hispana to be a welcoming pregnancy clinic for Hispanic place to gather. They note women. Through the work, the center is available to -SISTER CARMEN she got to know some more than just Roman HERNANDEZ residents. Catholics. “They told me it would be “Our biggest thing is our nice to have our own place here,” Hernandez door is always open,” Hernandez says. “We can says. be a light for the Hispanic people.” Hispanic residents make up 21.5 percent of Learn more: Hampton’s population, according to the 2010 La Luz Hispana, 116 First Ave. NW, in census, and Hernandez surveyed what they Hampton, is open from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday and would like to see in a center. She also visited a Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, similar operation in Sioux Falls. Thursday and Friday. “I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” For information, call (641) 812-1090, email Hernandez says. “We decided to open right here or go online at in Hampton. We already had the relationships built.” Text | LAURA BRID Sister Maura McCarthy joined the initiative after visiting Hampton. She had recently





LATINO OR HISPANIC Estimated Latino population of Iowa as of July 1, 2011, was

158,014 5.2%

The number of Latinos living below the poverty rate was

27.2% in Iowa in 2010 compared to 12.6% for all Iowans.


Some 5.6% of Waterloo’s population and 2% of Cedar Falls’ population was Latino, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. In Black Hawk County, 3.7% of residents identified themselves as Latino.

158,014 residents, or 5.2% of total statewide population.

Latino population in Iowa grew

91.6% since 2000.

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Median annual income in 2010 for Latino households was


compared to statewide average of $47,956.

Hispanic or Latino group breakdown in Iowa as of 2010: Mexican 77.3% Central American 8.8% Puerto Rican 3.2% South American 2.5% Cuban 0.8% Dominican 0.3% All other Hispanic or Latino 7.2%.

Cedar Valley Inclusion



owa’s Hispanic population continues to rise and spread throughout the state, according to new government figures. An estimate puts the number of Latinos who called the state home on July 1, 2012, at 162,894. The figure represents a 3.2 percent increase from the year before, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The increase was 10 times the estimated increase in the state’s overall population for the year. In Black Hawk County, the Latino population more than doubled between 2002 and 2012, going from 2,173 people to 5,177, according to the census. The increase represents a growth rate of nearly 102 percent. Most Northeast Iowa counties showed similar percentage increases. Though not large in real numbers, Chickasaw County’s Hispanic population showed tremendous growth. The county was home to 81 people who identified themselves as Latino in 2002. By 2012, the figure jumped to 299, an increase of 269 percent, according to the census. Latinos make up only about 5 percent of the overall state population, and the rate of growth between mid-2011 and mid-2012 was slower than the average over the past decade. Still, the Latino influence is spreading as more and more counties begin to gain noticeable Hispanic populations. | 39

Cedar Valley Inclusion

The new census data says 25 of Iowa’s 99 counties now have at least 5 percent of their population comprised of Latinos, up from 15 counties five years ago. Latinos make up 10 percent of the population in 10 counties, up from seven in 2008. “My best guess is as these communities grow in size, they become more attractive,” said Liesl Eathington, an assistant scientist at Iowa State University who tracks demographic trends in the state. Latinos, though, are not the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in Iowa on a percentage basis. The number of Asians increased by 4.8 percent to 60,004 between mid-2011 and mid2012. Polk and Dallas county led the way, accounting for about a third of the statewide increase. Iowa’s African-American population grew by 2.3 percent to 97,080, with Polk, Johnson and Scott counties accounting for more than halfof the growth. Text | COURIER LEE NEWS SERVICE

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Cedar Valley Inclusion

FESTIVALS Cinco de Mayo Annual event marking the Mexican holiday commemorating the 1862 Battle of Puebla, in which Mexican defenders defeated an invading French army. The event, which includes music, food vendors, a car show, petting zoo and children’s activities, is an opportunity to showcase Hispanic and Latino culture.


The event is held in and around Lincoln Park and downtown Waterloo. Admission is free.

An annual, multi-day event held in mid-June at a number of sites throughout Waterloo, Juneteenth marks the freeing of the last slaves in the United States at the end of the Civil War. The event traditionally includes music, prayer, entertainment and exhibition booths.

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Cedar Valley Inclusion

Cedar Valley Pridefest

Irish Fest

Organizers held the second successful Cedar Valley Pridefest in August in downtown Waterloo highlighting the diverse gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community of eastern Iowa in a positive and informative manner in an effort to promote acceptance, understanding and equality. The event included entertainers, music, information, food and vendors.

Iowa Irish Fest is dedicated to celebrating Irish culture in Iowa, takes place in the Lincoln Park area of downtown Waterloo, and is held annually during the first full weekend of August.

North End Arts & Music Fest This annual event, held in late August, celebrates the arts and culture of Waterloo’s north end, the historical starting point for many of the ethnic groups that came to Waterloo. It was the entry point of the Italians, the Greeks, the Russians, the Germans, the AfricanAmericans and many others.


RESOURCES JESSE COSBY NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER The Jesse Cosby Neighborhood Center provides community-based and culturally competent services to individuals and families in need of assistance and serves as the coordinating link between the greater community and available resources. 1112 Mobile St., Waterloo 232-1793

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. CENTER OF HAWKEYE COMMUNITY COLLEGE The Martin Luther King Jr. Center is a neighborhood center that provides educational opportunities for the community. The center has a state-of-theart computer lab that is open to students and the community. 515 Beech St., Waterloo 319-296-4440

THE ARC CEDAR VALLEY NAACP Meetings are held at 7 p.m. the fourth Thursday of every month at the Jesse Cosby Center. 112 Mobile St., Waterloo 232-7150

BOSNIAN CULTURAL FOUNDATION The Bosnian Cultural Foundation is a nonprofit organization in Waterloo that is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Bosnian and BosnianAmerican culture, traditions and artifacts. 242-1623

WATERLOO COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS The Waterloo Commission on Human Rights is an organization committed to addressing and redressing all forms of discrimination. 620 Mulberry St. 291-4441

AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL MUSEUM AAHCM is a boxcar museum whose mission is to promote greater knowledge of the African-American community in the Cedar Valley through the collection, preservation and interpretation of the historical past. 1320 E. Fourth St., Waterloo The Arc’s mission is to advance the total well-being, dignity, individual potential and rights of people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities and their families. 232-0437

SPECIAL OLYMPICS Special Olympics is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities to become physically fit, productive and respected members of society through sports training and competition. Special Olympics offers children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round training and competition in 26 Olympic-type summer and winter sports. There is no charge to participate in Special Olympics. (515) 986-5520

NORTH STAR COMMUNITY SERVICES North Star is a private, non-profit rehabilitative services agency providing adult day services, employment services and supported community living services so individuals with disabilities are better able to live enriched lives in our communities. 3420 University Ave., Waterloo 236-0901


EXCEPTIONAL PERSONS INC. EPI was created to facilitate and coordinate the development of local activity centers for people with disabilities. 760 Ansborough Ave., Waterloo 232-6671

BLACK HAWK CENTER FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING Centers for Independent Living are private, nonprofit corporations that provide services to maximize the independence of individuals with disabilities and the accessibility of the communities they live in. Serves Benton, Bremer, Black Hawk, Butler, Grundy counties. 312 Jefferson St., Waterloo 291-7755

IOWA DEPARTMENT FOR THE BLIND Iowa Department for the Blind offers specialized, integrated services that blind and severely visually impaired Iowans need to live independently and work competitively. Department services and programs include a library for the blind and physically handicapped, vocational rehabilitation services, independent living rehabilitation services, the adult orientation and adjustment center, business enterprises program, an aids and devices store, and public education and in-service training. Waterloo Branch 3420 University Ave., Ste. A, Waterloo 226-3352 Compiled by Holly Hudson

Cedar Valley Inclusion

ASIAN & PACIFIC ISLANDER Iowa’s Asian population by group as of 2011: Asian Indian, 22.6%; Chinese, 17.7%; Vietnamese, 13.8%; Korean, 12.9%; Laotian, 8.1%; Filipino, 5.1%; Nepalese, 3.3%; Hmong, 2.5%; other Asian, 14.0% There were

66,595 Asian residents in Iowa in 2011, or 2.2% of the total state population. Iowa’s Asian population grew 54.4% between 2000 and 2011.

The median income of Asian households in 2011 was $55,034 in 2011 while the median income of native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders was $69,622. Those exceed the statewide annual median income of $49,427 for that year.

Black Hawk County is home to 2,276 Asian residents, based on the 2010 U.S. Census. That is 1.7% of the total population.

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$$$ The poverty rate for Asians in Iowa was



in 2011, compared to 12.8% for the state as a whole.

Cedar Valley Inclusion