John Lawrence’s message from July 2, 2018
Sometimes a phone call can make all the difference, and even save a life. ISU Extension and Outreach learned that lesson more than 30 years ago. When Iowa farmers, families and rural communities were under stress and needed help during the 1980s farm crisis, we responded with Iowa Concern. Today we continue to answer Iowans’ calls 24/7, not only with stress counselors and a toll-free phone number, but also with live chat capabilities, email and a website. Iowa Concern provides Iowans with access to an attorney for legal education, as well as information and referral services for a wide variety of topics. Did you know?
- ISU Extension and Outreach started the referral service, originally called Rural Concern, in cooperation with Iowa Department of Human Services and United Way of Central Iowa in 1985 (thus the phone number, 800-447-1985). Initially it was funded through donations from Farm Bureau, FmHA and the Farm Credit System. In 1986, the Iowa General Assembly appropriated money to continue the service, according to “75 Years of Service: Cooperative Extension in Iowa,” an extension history book by Iowa State’s Dorothy Schwieder.
- After the floods of 1993, the name was changed to Iowa Concern to expand the hotline’s reach as a source of help for all Iowans in need.
- According to Tammy Jacobs, current coordinator for Iowa Concern and all other Human Sciences Extension and Outreach hotlines, Iowa Concern answered 7,826 calls in 2017. All contacts are confidential.
Tammy says the hotline has seen a slight increase in ag-related calls in the last few months. Caller concerns include the farm bill, ag prices and most recently how this year’s flooding has been impacting farmers. Iowa Concern also answers calls related to financial issues and basic needs – such as connecting Iowans with assistance for rent, utility, food and medical needs, to name a few. Iowa Concern focuses on the immediacy of the individual’s need and works to connect people with helpful resources. For more information, contact Tammy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-727-0656.
Recently each county office received at no cost a package containing two mini tabletop displays and a supply of information cards and bookmarks highlighting Iowa Concern and AnswerLine. We hope you will use these resources at upcoming community events and programs to raise awareness among our clients. Thank you for partnering with Human Sciences to get the word out about these valuable resources.
One more note: Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.
— John D. Lawrence
Iowa State University Vice President for Extension and Outreach