The Claude W. and Dolly Ahrens Foundation announced today that Grinnell Area Mental Health Consortium – JPK Fund will receive the 2022 “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award, which annually honors individuals, groups or organizations that make a difference in Grinnell and surrounding communities. 

“We are pleased to recognize the work of the Grinnell Area Mental Health Consortium-JPK Fund with this award.” This organization is being recognized for their endless efforts to improve community awareness about mental health, help those struggling with mental health challenges, and has partnered with various organizations dealing with people facing such challenges.”  said Julie Gosselink, President, and CEO of the Foundation. 

The JPK Fund was established in 2018 by physician J.R. Paulson to honor his late colleague, Dr. Jeffrey P. Knobloch. The JPK Fund supports Poweshiek County area residents who are financially unable to afford services for mental health related needs. The Consortium, which includes mental health providers, clergy and concerned citizens, oversees the growth and distribution of the JPK Fund also works to provide educational opportunities supporting mental health. 

Paulson, a board member of the Consortium who was one of the members present to accept the $5,000 award and traveling trophy said, “We are thrilled to be nominated and selected by the Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation to receive this award. This is a great honor and a wonderful way to expand our resources and support those who are struggling to find the help and treatment. We will continue to help link providers to groups and organizations that identify those in need. (Schools, law enforcement, therapists, counselors, etc.)”. Paulson continued, “We have seen an increase in need for mental health care the past two years and we anticipate this to continue climbing.”

Since 2018, the JPK Fund has helped reimburse providers through a voucher system, offset medication costs, and support educational efforts related to mental health and substance abuse. Since this time, the JPK Fund has partnered with 45 providers, helped more than 415 area individuals, and reimbursed providers for more than $190,000 in mental health services, thanks to the support of generous donors.  

The JPK fund has also been instrumental in helping secure a mental health advocate for the Grinnell Police Department and Poweshiek County Sheriff’s department, partnered with the Grinnell-Newburg School District on a mental health speaker series. The first public event was held on March 29 with speaker Lyndsey Fennelly. The second event is scheduled for September 15 with the focus on media and the effects on youth. 

“This grant will help the JPK Fund seek out more opportunities to share the importance of mental health and to help end the stigma of mental illness.” said Jennifer Cogley, Director of Partner Programs for the Claude W. & Dolly Ahrens Foundation. “We are excited for the speaker event this fall after such a good turnout last spring. The event with resource fair is a great way for members of the community to access support.”  

The “Leave It Better Than You Found It” award commemorates the Aug. 18 birthday of the late benefactor Claude Ahrens.  The program was initiated in August 1994 at the dedication of the Ahrens/Paschall Memorial Park and is funded by the Ahrens Foundation.  In a 1993 speech to the National Recreation and Parks Association, Ahrens challenged those in attendance to follow the sage advice of his father John, “to leave the world a better place than you found it.”  Colleagues of Ahrens decided to encourage area residents to do the same and the effort was founded. To date, more than 300 area individuals, groups and organizations have been honored by the annual program.

Information about the Grinnell Area Mental Health Consortium is available at www.ahrensfamilyfoundation.org/jpk-grinnell-mental-health-consortium/. Additional information about the Leave It Better Award can be found at ahrensfamilyfoundation.org/leave-it-better-awards/.

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