OPEN (Organization Promoting Everlasting Neighbors) has been a part of the Newton and Jasper County area for 28 years. January is “Sister City Month.” One of our special projects has been our high school student program, an important aspect of our relationships with our sister cities in Wu Chi, Taiwan and Smila, Ukraine. Our current student, Sofiia Mishchenko from Ukraine, is being hosted by the family of Matt and Debbie Muckler. Sofiia is very active at Newton High School and is currently a cheerleader for wrestling and basketball. She also is a very diligent student, doing very well academically. I had the unusual privilege to meet her parents in September while in Ukraine. A delegation of five spent a week in Smila, Ukraine, celebrating their annual Folklore Festival and Smila City days. Also on the trip were: Jody Rhone, public works director, City of Newton, Brian Dunkelberger, city planner, John McNeer, OPEN board and Josh McNeer, Maxim Advertising.
The student program started in 1993 and we are proud that we have had 44 students take advantage of the opportunity to participate in area high schools since then. We appreciate the numerous host families that have welcomed our students. Without this support, it would not be possible to sustain this important program.
In November we had our annual Pasta Supper, our only fundraiser. Thanks so much to all who participated.
Marvin Campbell, OPEN Board Emeritus, has created a comprehensive history of our organization and it is currently available for view at the Newton Public Library, glass display case. It will be there the entire month of January and it is very well done; don’t miss it.
Our current Board members are: Sheri Benson, Bob Callaghan, Brian Dunkelberger, Warren Erickson, Steve Farver, Stephen Gehling, Heidi Holley, Jane Johnson, Jeff Price, John McNeer, Josh McNeer, Sveta Miller, David Raymond, Tori Reynolds, Jody Rhone, Joan Tyler and Marvin Campbell, Emeritus.
Jane Ann Cotton, Chair, OPEN