Grateful Knights gather for blessing with Bishop

Barb Arland-Fye
Bishop Thomas Zinkula blesses a new 4D ultrasound machine at Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf as Paul Lee, Iowa Knights of Columbus State Deputy, looks on.ul

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

Gratitude mingled with holy water as Knights of Columbus participated in a blessing and prayer service for the arrival of a new ultrasound machine at the Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf.

Bishop Thomas Zinkula presided at the March 16 prayer service and thanked God for “showing your own power and goodness in the inventions of the human race. Grant that all who will use this ultrasound machine to serve their sisters and brothers may recognize that you are wonderful in your works …”

Rick Willows, Grand Knight of Loras Council 532 in Davenport, thanked God for the generosity of the council and all who donated toward purchase of the 4D-ultrasound machine. He thanked God for his pastor, Father Jake Greiner, of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport, for allowing the council to raise funds in the midst of a pandemic and a capital campaign.

Linda Rubey, executive director of the Women’s Choice Center, gave thanks “from my heart” for the Knights’ gift to the center. “In whatever way people contributed — prayers, donation or time  — it matters to God and all of us … especially to those women who find themselves in a situation where the world says it’s OK to have an abortion.”

Paul Lee, Iowa Knights of Columbus State Deputy, who traveled from Cedar Falls with his 6-year-old daughter to attend the celebration, thanked God for the ultrasound machine’s ability to help foster the miracle of life.

He and his wife Amanda lost a son, Stephen, at birth eight years ago. Their KofC community, St. Stephen the Witness Council 14987 at the University of Northern Iowa, shared its moral support by raising money to purchase an ultrasound machine for pro-life efforts in Cedar Falls. The council named the ultrasound machine “Stephen,” in memory of the couple’s son. When the ultrasound machine arrived, Amanda was pregnant with their third child, Josephine. Her ultrasound image was the first taken with the new machine, Lee said.

“The power of bringing kids into life is personal to my wife and me. It’s important for our (KofC) order to be present for events like these and to show in a tangible way that we support life. We support life, and not just unborn life, but we support families, we support life through childrearing all the way through adulthood.”

The Loras Council presented a check for $28,000 to the Women’s Choice Center on Jan. 21, the day before the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in 1973 that legalized abortion. The check included matching funds from the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council, Willows said.
The Women’s Choice Center now has three ultrasound machines, one of which is inside the mobile unit “Grace.”

“We have saved over 1,400 babies since the beginning of our center’s existence,” Rubey said. “We know there are women with unplanned pregnancies we have not been able to reach. The addition of another ultrasound machine truly does open our capacity to capture the moment when a pregnant woman may be undecided, fearful and vulnerable. We want to be able to reach out to her.”

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Knights of Columbus host CPID ‘Pellathon’

Iowa Knights of Columbus State Deputy Paul Lee, left, and District Deputy Paul Falck, practice social distancing as they make phone calls during the St. Mary – Pella Knights of Columbus’ “Pellathon” Aug. 25 to raise money for the annual Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

PELLA — Despite concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic would limit their ability to raise money for the annual Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities (CPID), Knights of Columbus in Pella brought in record donations this year.

Traditionally, the St. Mary council members take a multi-faceted approach to the campaign, including storefront collections and phone solicitation to businesses and individuals. They also host a weeklong video and radio telethon featuring interviews with individuals impacted by the yearly collection. The council’s CPID collections are consistently among the highest in the state of Iowa.

Initially, the council’s members were not sure they could do the storefront collections, said Joe Lickteig, a KC who helps organize the campaign each year. Some stores initially expressed hesitation, “but once they figured out we had a safety protocol, we were good to go.” Precautions included face coverings, social distancing, having a touchless collection bucket, and sanitizing spray. Stores asked the Knights to set up their station off to the side so they would not interrupt the flow of traffic; Lickteig said this reduced their visibility, but the Knights remained grateful for the opportunity.

The biggest change, however, was moving from a weeklong telethon to a one-day telethon broadcast live on YouTube and the local radio station, KNIA. Lickteig considered this option in the past, but never pursued it. When Michael Fries, a new KC, suggested the idea of hosting a “Jerry Lewis-style telethon” this year, the council decided to give it a try. “It was really his energy and thoughtfulness that made me realize we could pull this off,” Lickteig said. The Knights dubbed the Aug. 25 event a “Pellathon.”

The Pellathon took place at the Pella Opera House. Knights, including State Deputy Paul Lee and District Deputy Paul Falck, practiced social distancing as they took turns on stage making a combined 316 phone calls. Father Troy Richmond, pastor of parishes in Pella and Oskaloosa, also took a turn making calls. Meanwhile, Trevor Castle from KNIA interviewed special education teachers, parents of individuals with special needs, an individual with Down syndrome and her parents, representatives from businesses that hire individuals with special needs, and donors. He also interviewed a representative from Christian Opportunity Center (COC), which supports 100 adults with disabilities. Additionally, local musicians volunteered their talents performing for the virtual crowd.

As pledges came in, the council’s financial secretary, Al Dole, updated totals on the back wall. “It looked like a real telethon,” Lickteig said.

While most of the donations came from outgoing calls, listeners and viewers also called a Knight stationed at the St. Mary church office to make a pledge.

Lickteig said storefront donations were down this year, but thanks to the success of the telethon, the Knights raised about $35,000 — a record total.

On top of that, the Des Moines-based charitable organization 100+ Men on a Mission selected the Pella Knights’ CPID campaign as the recipient of a $10,100 donation, bringing the grand total to just under $47,000. The council splits the CPID funds among Iowa Special Olympics, the COC, and special education programs at Pella Schools and Pella Christian Schools.

One goal the council fell short on this year was securing interviews between COC and local businesses to discuss possibilities for collaboration. Lickteig said many businesses are hesitant to hire anyone at this time, including those with special needs. Still, he is glad the council will be able to give more money to the COC this year, especially since the COC had to cancel its annual golf outing this year.

Lickteig hopes the success of the 2020 Pella Knights’ CPID campaign will give hope to other councils who are struggling to raise money during the pandemic.

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