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Crowd Cheering

Advocacy and Awareness

Learn how we are supporting the causes in our community.

It is widely recognized that the path to our community’s future begins with the well-being of all children. The science of early childhood and early brain development, paired with years of research, can now provide a strong foundation upon which policymakers and civic leaders can design a common and effective agenda.


We believe that this combination of neuroscience, child development research, and program evaluation data can provide an informed and pragmatic framework for those engaged in policy design and implementation.

Lemonade For Life

Thriving Families Alliance has convened select experts from local human services organizations to address the opportunity to share information about the detrimental impacts of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and provide mitigation steps. Through outreach to multiple sectors in Southwest Iowa, the members of this group share a passion for building a stronger, more resilient, self-confident community. Participants include:

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Ellen Trumble

Visiting Nurses Association

Diane McKee

Catholic Charities Diocese of Des Moines


Karen Allen

Thriving Families Alliance


Kathy Hanafan

Green Hills Area Education Agency

Kris Wood

Pottawattamie County


Lana Verbrigghe

Children’s Square


Lorelle Mueting

Heartland Family Service

Mary O’Neill

Heartland Family Service

Melissa Nation

Iowa Department of Human Services

Patricia Russmann

Thriving Families Alliance


Sandy Spicciati

Visiting Nurses Association


Susan Pawloski

Lutheran Family Services


Suzanne Watson

Pottawattamie County


Tim Ross

State of Iowa, Juvenile Court

We are fortunate to have additional support from several local leaders as well. If you’d like to join this incredible group as an advocate or advisor, please contact us.

Alicia Frieze

Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce

Donna Dostal

Pottawattamie County Community Foundation


Shawnna Silvius

Omaha - Council Bluffs MAPA

History of Lemonade For Life

In 2019, data showed a majority of our Southwest Iowa citizens had experienced one or more ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) in their lifetimes. Research over the past few decades has revealed that increased incidents of ACEs lead to higher chance for a variety of challenges into adulthood. Thriving Families Alliance who are the conveners and coordinators of several local children and family resources, saw the opportunity to dive deeper into knowledge and mitigation efforts around ACEs. A Coordinating Council was established, with leaders in local community and human services participating in a year of education and awareness that culminated in acceptance for participation in the Lemonade for Life Pilot. From there, we began to look at how to bring this knowledge to the broader community, change social norms to focus more on building resilience and promoting protective factors on a larger scale. With the pandemic in 2020, we shifted our plans a bit as everyone did, and we are happy to be able to bring resources to you now through this website, leadership presentations, and community events.

Lemonade For Life Purpose:

Through our collective experiences in human services, we witness a wide variety of vulnerabilities in our local populations, providing opportunities to address those needs. While continuously seeking ways to best serve everyone, we have learned more about the broad, collective, and long-term detrimental effects of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). More than 2/3 of people in our area have experienced at least one of the ACEs studied. Experiencing ACEs in childhood can lead to struggles and inconsistencies later in life with relationships, critical thinking, communication, job performance, and can lead to continuing the cycle as our children experience ACEs as well. However, when we learn to appropriately support each other, the tools provided lead to more successful interactions, more reliable behaviors, breaking the cycle for future generations, and a stronger community. Through the Lemonade for Life initiative, we look forward to providing information about ACEs research, along with tools and techniques to mitigate the negative effects. Our goal is to enable those in our community to better navigate their own obstacles, raise others up, and set our children up for success.

Lemonade For Life and Your Business:

Lemonade for Life Business: For our community’s business leaders, Lemonade for Life has several opportunities to address ACEs. We would like to start by sharing our powerpoint presentation with your management team, board, or association. In it, we specify how you may see the damaging impact of ACEs in the workplace, followed by options for addressing these. Because we appreciate the diverse business community in our area, the tools we offer are attainable, ensuring you multiple options to incorporate solutions that best fit your organization.

Lemonade For Life Resources:

Your employee policies provide the foundation of your organization. An important step to ensure these policies appropriately support your staff and represent your company’s values is to evaluate your policies as they are today. We’re providing sample policies here if you’d like to reference them in updating existing policies or creating new ones for your staff. Every business is unique, and has specific requirements. We are offering sample policies as starting point resources. We encourage employers to validate any change or new policy according to your organization’s standards, to customize policies as best fits into your company.

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Prevent Child Abuse

Child Abuse Prevention

Every child deserves to grow up with a healthy mind, strong community, and safe and healthy family.

Social supports and caring connections strengthen families, weaken the negative outcomes of childhood trauma and reduce the risk of child abuse or neglect. That is why the Thriving Families Alliance works to foster connections, help communities to come together, and leverage resources to end the cycle of child abuse and neglect in our community.


Prevent Child Abuse Committees

Through local efforts, including the Prevent Child Abuse Pottawattamie County Committee, we collaborate to ensure that all children will be healthy and safe from child maltreatment.  By focusing on early access to concrete supports, evidence-based parenting support, and social supports for families, children’s exposure to toxic stress is reduced and protective factors are increased.


Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC)

The Community Partnerships for Protecting Children (CPPC) approach starts with the premise that children’s safety depends on strong families, and strong families depend on connections with a broad range of people, organizations, and community institutions.  The Community Partnership approach involves four key strategies; shared decision making, neighborhood networking, individualized course of action, and policy and practice change, which are implemented together to achieve desired results.

Areas Served:

  • Pottawattamie County

  • Harrison, Monona, and Shelby Counties

  • Fremont, Page, and Taylor Counties

Policy and Practice

The Thriving Families Alliance looks at how families experience our community and try to make those systems more helpful.  Together, we find where different decisions might affect families and children in more positive ways.  We look to improve policies and practices to reduce barriers and increase accessibility and relevance of services that lead to positive family outcomes.

  • Blend the work and expertise of professionals and community members.

  • Bolstering supports for vulnerable families and children.

  • Protect children through culture shifts and improvements to practices and policies.


Our work with the Association of Early Childhood Area Boards and Advocates (AECIABA) brings together Early Childhood Iowa Area Boards and advocates that support young children across the state of Iowa. The Association coordinates the advocacy of the various Area Boards, individuals and organizations that support our work to ensure law makers make funding and policy decisions informed by both science and the reality on the ground for young children and those that care for them.

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