Southwest Iowa Families Logo

(KMAland) -- A local non-profit that aims to help families and children in the area has been named the winner of KMA's Non-Profit Marketing Assistance Project for 2018.

Southwest Iowa Families, a non-profit based in Clarinda, was officially announced as the project's winner live on the "Dean and Friends Show" Thursday morning. KMA General Sales Manager Sandy Hansen says area non-profits were invited to apply throughout May with a winner voted on by members of KMA's staff.

"We decided to take a little different approach with how we do some donation," said Hansen. "Just like every business, we get approached all the time for different entities and non-profits that would like to have help and donations. We got to thinking that how we could really make the most difference for somebody is if we really just do what we do everyday -- develop a marketing plan and really promote one specific non-profit."

Sandy Geer is administrative director for Southwest Iowa Families. She says the agency exists to improve the lives of families in the area.

"We are there to help children and families," said Geer. "Our mission statement is 'Enhancing the lives of children and their families in southwest Iowa.' We have a lot of resources. We have traditional mental health counseling. We have child abuse prevention programs that all tie into just making lives better for the children and their families in the community and in our area."

Bernie Wagoner is acting clinical director for the non-profit. She has worked with Southwest Iowa Families since 1993. She says the agency started with a focus solely on mental health services.

"Initially when the agency first started, we did traditional outpatient mental health counseling," said Wagoner. "As time went forward and things evolved, we had more and more requests from the communities to get involved in different sorts of activities. The agency expanded its role and formally organized as a non-profit and started into the 0-5 prevention programs."

Wagoner says the group is aiming to end the stigma associated with mental health and mental health services.

"There are old words like 'crazy' and 'insane' that have been associated with mental health for a long time," said Wagoner. "We know that basically mental health concerns are biological, brain-based diseases the same as cancer, diabetes and others. We would never think of telling someone who had diabetes 'Well, you better buck it up and get tough.' But we do that sometimes with mental health concerns."

In addition to traditional outpatient mental health services, Southwest Iowa Families also focuses on prevention services, especially for children from birth through age five.

"Children under five are the most vulnerable and also the most likely to be involved in founded abuse situations in our area," said Wagoner. "In southwest Iowa -- and this is not a statistic we're proud of -- we know that Montgomery and Page counties have some of the highest rates of founded child abuse reports in the state of Iowa. We're very concerned about that, and we're hopeful that by providing services in this arena, that we're going to prevent abuse and neglect and have better outcomes for children and their families."

As the winner of the KMA Non-Profit Marketing Assistance Project, Southwest Iowa Families will receive assistance from KMA with all of its marketing and brand recognition campaigns. For more information on Southwest Iowa Families or to make a donation, visit their website You can also call Southwest Iowa Families' office at 215 East Washington in Clarinda at (712) 542-3501.