First Grants Awarded in 1954

Published: March 26, 2024 | By: Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation | Category:

Two Organizations Received First Grant Awards and Both are Still Making an Impact Today  

In 1954, the Children’s Home of Cedar Rapids (currently known as Tanager Place) and the Home for Aged Women (currently known as UnityPoint Health’s AbbeHealth Services, Kingston Hill Residential Care Facility) received the first two grants made by the Foundation. They each received $350.

By the time the Community Welfare Foundation was ready to award its first grants, the Children’s Home of Cedar Rapids and the Home for Aged Women had been serving the community for decades. Both organizations grew out of the Industrial School, established in 1879, and evolved to meet Linn County’s needs as they developed.

In the mid-1860’s, one Eleanor J. Lund moved from Benton County to Cedar Rapids in search of opportunity. At just 26, Eleanor had recently been widowed for the second time, and the family’s property was sold to cover a debt. 

Eleanor took a job teaching downtown, and although she had a child of her own, she lamented not being able to do more for the city’s youth. Many fathers and husbands had been killed or disabled in the Civil War, and many of the community’s Czechoslovakian immigrants faced economic and cultural challenges. 

In 1879, Eleanor took matters into her own hands. Into her own home, Eleanor invited several children who were orphaned or whose parents could not afford to care for them. She would feed and shelter the children and, along with volunteers in the community, teach them useful skills, like carpentry and sewing. The following year, the Industrial School was officially formed with 27 students.

By 1887, Eleanor recognized that it was not just the city’s youth who were being forgotten. There were few opportunities for her as a young widow, but there were even fewer for older women without wealthy families, so the Industrial School began taking in elderly women. 

In 1888, the Industrial School became the Home for the Friendless—a common name for orphanages of the time. Around this time, public schools became more common and available to all children, so the organization focused on serving as a home. 

Also around this time, Eleanor’s efforts to care for elderly women outgrew the home’s space, and a separate organization was formed. The Home for Aged Women, as it would come to be known, struggled to find a permanent location until, in 1899, a donor funded the construction of a property on 12th Street NW. The striking Victorian home provided rooms for 35 women over 65 and was known as Kingston Hill. The organization itself would adopt this name in 1976.

The Home for the Friendless would move several times in the following decades and eventually become the Children’s Home of Cedar Rapids in 1940. By the 1960’s, orphanages were becoming obsolete, and in 1962 the Home shifted focus again, becoming the area’s first residential treatment facility for adolescents. 

Just two years later, the Public Health Nursing Association asked the Children’s Home to take over Camp Good Health, which had been established in 1926 for disadvantaged youth. In the decades that followed, the Home would add new services, programs, and facilities to respond to the mental health needs of local youth with up-to-date practices. In 1990, the Children’s Home became Tanager Place, and Camp Good Health became Camp Tanager. 

Today, Tanager provides essential prevention, treatment and outreach services to thousands of youth and their families each year. 

Kingston Hill would eventually join AbbeHealth in 2007, which became an affiliate of UnityPoint Health in 2017. The Victorian home—now with an attached wing—is still serving as a residential care facility nestled among residential properties in northwest Cedar Rapids.

These two organizations are the legacy of Eleanor Lund and the countless educators, counselors, caretakers and advocates that believed in the mission, as well as the many donors who offered support. Since 1954, the Community Foundation has made grants to organizations like these who are constantly evolving in response to Linn County’s changing needs and opportunities. 

“Nonprofit organizations provide the programs and services that make Linn County a healthy and vibrant community,” says Karla Twedt-Ball, President & CEO at the Community Foundation. “Our history of connecting the generosity of donors with the needs of nonprofits has deep roots, and we’re proud that our grantmaking has helped support the missions of many nonprofits through the years.”

Click here to view the most recent grants awarded at the Community Foundation.

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