Ottumwa R.I.S.E. members answer to higher call

Ottumwa R.I.S.E. members answer to higher call Main Photo

15 Jun 2021


OTTUMWA: Kadie Kinsler wants to work in the Peace Corps one day because she likes to help people.

Her current work is putting her on that path.

Kinsler is one of the members of the Ottumwa branch of R.I.S.E. (Rebuild, Integrate, Serve, Empower), which falls under the AmeriCorps umbrella and is designed to assist area residents with a variety of services at no cost.

Most of the work consists of aiding refugees and immigrants, particularly employees of JBS, but that is not all.

"Basically we're the first point of contact, and we can direct people who can help them further," said Kinsler, a college student who will end her term with R.I.S.E. next month before studying abroad. "The outreach is the hardest thing, because not a lot of people know about the program."

R.I.S.E. has consists of two others besides Kinsler ? Ottumwa natives Ibeth Rivera and Grace Lin; Kinsler is from Bloomfield, but Lin was a refugee from Myanmar.

The program assists immigrants with a variety of services, namely helping make a doctor's appointment, applying for a job, bank-related

assistance, housing, applying for food stamps or opening a small business in Ottumwa.

But one service stands out ? putting refugees and immigrants on the path to citizenship.

"That is the service we handle the most, helping them apply for green cards and citizenship," Kinsler said. "It can be a long process. We can't look over a citizenship application, but we can direct them to sources that can, such as lawyers."

One of RISE's main clients is JBS because of its heavy refugee and Hispanic population, and Kinsler, Rivera and Lin are fluent in multiple languages to make the process somewhat easier.

"We go into JBS once a week and help those people find the resources they need," Kinsler said.

RISE, which has an office at City Hall, is under the leadership of director of community development Zach Simonson. Kinsler said the opportunity to renew the program will likely come in the fall.

"I've enjoyed meeting these people and doing what I can to help them and put them in contact with those who can do more for them," Kinsler said. "I love it that I'm able to help people."

R.I.S.E. can be reached at (641) 683-0618 or (770) 5278475. Walk-in meetings are also available, as the office is located in Room 200 at City Hall.

Chad Drury can be reached at, and on Twitter @ChadDrury