HoCA is Organization of the Year

CRESCO - When introducing the Organization of the Year at the Chamber/Cresco Industrial Development Corp. (CIDC) banquet on Nov. 18. Jason Passmore said, “I can’t believe we have overlooked this very worthy group.” 
He was talking about HoCA (Howard Cancer Association).
Accepting the award were charter member and current president Dick Holten, along with treasurer Heather Johnson and member Kelly McCarville.
HoCA was named a nonprofit corporation in September 1993. For nearly 30 years, members have been supporting individuals in the Howard-Winneshiek School District diagnosed with cancer.
The idea of this organization was the brainchild of Bee Bengfort and Marlys Hovey. Bengfort had been the county representative for the American Cancer Society for 20 years, and the duo felt the money raised was primarily used for research and education, consequently not staying in Howard County to provide assistance to county residents with a cancer diagnosis. 
All money donated goes for grants. The only other expense HoCA has is for stamps to mail grants and thank yous.”
The first full year operating as a nonprofit, HoCA gave 17 $100 grants. In 1995, the organization began giving $150 grants, and in 1998, they were $200. The grant amount continued to increase until it recently went up to $600. Johnson noted individuals who are still actively fighting cancer can receive the grant every three months, up to three times, with  a fourth grant needing full board approval.
Original board members included Hovey, Bengfort, Harold Bengfort, Bernice Bilidt, Cora Dunt, Charles Curtis, Dr. Don Foley, Dr. Jeff Ernst, Cindy Ernst, Holten, Sharon Kovarik, Shirley McConnell, Joe Praska, Shirley Praska, Vicki Sovereign, Jack Thomson, Harlan Stevenson and Phyllis Stevenson.
Current board members include Holten, Johnson, McCarville, Sovereign, Phyllis Stevenson, Vice President Karen Voyna, Secretary Melodee Balk, Ron Downing, Marge Ludwig, Kendra Kleespie, Jackie Lickteig, Wayne Diederichs, Julie Stinson, Zita Bruess and Joe Braun-Advisory.
Monetary support has come from personal donations, memorials, various fundraisers and grants. Some local service organizations who donate annually to HoCA include Driftrunners from Snow Fest; Howard Cancer Association Fishing Tournament in January; The Be your Own Boss camp in June usually has a group that donates their profit; Mighty Howard County Fair in June; HoCA Golf Tournament in July; Tractor Sunday at A&W in July; and various denim days or competitions at local businesses.
A disbursement committee meets monthly and sends out the checks. Since Nov. 10, 2022, HoCA has provided nearly 1,120 grants.
Johnson said, “This is a very rewarding board to be a part of . . . the community really steps up to support HoCA.  People are so generous, and it is awesome living in a community that cares as much as this one!  Pretty much everyone knows someone who has or had cancer and can relate.  Those who receive grants are very thankful and appreciate  the support.”  
Holten said, “People are very appreciative of the grants we give. So many people send thank yous. We get a lot of memorials from families who have lost someone. It is very satisfying to help others out.”
To request a grant for someone you know who has cancer, you can write a few sentences about the person and their current condition. Committee members need the name and address of the person being nominated and also signed by the person doing the nominating.  These can be mailed to P.O. Box 192 Cresco, IA 52136 or dropped off at Cresco Bank & Trust and Camp-Site RV or with any board member, including Holten.  

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

Sign Up For Breaking News

Stay informed on our latest news!

Manage my subscriptions

Subscribe to Breaking News feed