Nonprofit Offers Virtual Connections

Julie Fugenschuh

Project IOWA Executive Director Julie Fugenschuh is helping connect people virtually. Photo: Project IOWA

By Rachel Vogel Quinn

For Project IOWA, connection is both a key philosophy and a business strategy. So when the nonprofit had to cancel in-person classes due to the pandemic, Executive Director Julie Fugenschuh was concerned about the effects of isolation.

To combat that, Project IOWA decided to try out virtual connection. In addition to moving its normal courses online, the nonprofit created “Community Healing” classes, offered at no cost to anybody. 

“This is the work we’ve been doing for a while,” Fugenschuh says. “There’s a large population out there right now that could really benefit from some of our meaning and purpose work.”

The classes, part of a four-week program beginning April 21, are designed to help people maintain hopefulness, regardless of the current external circumstances. The goal is to help participants find a sense of community, manage stress, maintain a positive outlook, and provide support to their own personal network and the larger community. (See below for details on timing and how to register.)

The mission of Project IOWA is to help individuals connect their purpose to their careers. Before the pandemic, the workforce was in crisis, mainly because people didn’t find meaning in their employment. Fugenschuh says. Retention and intent-to-stay rates were low. 

To solve that problem, Project IOWA offers a three-month program to help job seekers—no matter their field or experience level—increase motivation, satisfaction and positivity.

Finding a common sense of humanity is especially important right now, Fugenschuh says Realizing that other people feel the same way you do, despite different life experiences, eases the sense of isolation many of us endure while social distancing. 

Fugenschuh asks central Iowans to recognize that everyone is experiencing the pandemic in different ways. Individuals who lack social support, have language barriers or can’t access to technology are feeling even more isolated than the rest of us. 

While other nonprofits face financial issues and potential closure, Fugenschuh sees the pandemic as a growth opportunity. She believes that, when social distancing ends, people will be even more motivated to find purpose, meaning, and connection in their work and their daily lives. 

Community Healing classes: Participate in a four-week session offered through Zoom and Google Classroom on Tuesdays. Available time slots include 8-9 a.m., 1-2 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. Sign up here

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