Underwood is a small community of 917 people located in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. A recent survey of residents reported that 81% of young people would volunteer in the community. However, only 31% reported they knew of opportunities to serve. In addition, young people are leaving the community for other opportunities due to the lack of job opportunities, and philanthropic and social activities to keep themselves busy.
The Friends of Underwood is working to revitalize the community and engage young people. It is a completely volunteer based group and the goal is to make Underwood a better community to live and improve the quality of life. The group focuses on four areas: local leadership, expanding community philanthropy, energizing entrepreneurship, and engaging young people. It leverages community assets and builds up local leadership.
The Friends of Underwood have been involved in a number of community-based projects. They work closely with the City of Underwood, Underwood Optimists, Underwood schools, and other organizations and volunteers to leverage their leadership and service in supporting the community. For example, they started a Monday Market in an effort to support local entrepreneurs, build strong businesses, and increase career opportunities in their hometown.
Through their collaboration with the Underwood Optimists, the group held a Bicycle Poker Run to raise funds to build a hiking trail. They also hold teen nights to provide a safe, drug-free environment for youth. Most recently, Friends of Underwood have begun building and placing Little Free Libraries in the community. These libraries are small wooden boxes shaped like houses where neighbors share their favorite literature. Anyone may stop by and pick up or drop off a book.
The Friends of Underwood are a group of citizen-minded volunteers that want to see their community thrive. They volunteer many countless hours and are willing to try things at the suggestion of community members. Their hours of dedication have created a positive change in the community.