Central Iowa Shelter Dinner a Huge Success

Image via WikipediaAn unbelievable turn out on New Year's Eve meant that we could serve a sit down dinner to the group at the Central Iowa Shelter in Des Moines.

  1. Claire Celsi - Thanks for calming my nerves and providing food/drink
  2. Daniel and Abbie Shipton - Your chili was super good and you made the perfect amount.  Awesome.  You're ready for competition!
  3. Sophia Amhad - Your inclusion of this event in the DSM Register meant that we had an additional 15 or more volunteers that meant a sit down FULL SERVICE dinner was in order.  That was a nice thought and everyone that came as a result of your post brought energy, enthusiasm, and desserts too!
  4. James McIntire - Thanks for making it out before your long trip to lend a hand.
  5. Rush Nigut - Your generous contribution will ensure that warm blankets and clothing will be fully stocked this winter.
  6. Thanks Tom and Gina Blaskovich, Mike Hoger, Jen Rose, and Blythe Stanfel.  If I've forgotten you, I apologize and please let me know so I can update this post.  That week between holidays was one of the most DETAIL packed of my life so I'm a bit sketchy on the entire week. 

Thanks to all of our friends and family who assisted with food and support as well and to my beautiful wife who watched the kids while we helped make a nice evening for those who need a boost.

To all volunteers who I met but didn't get your names...please email me and let's plan on doing this again for the THIRD year in a row in about 360 days from now.

If somehow I've forgotten you,

It makes me incredibly happy when people around the shelter ask, "Hey what group are you with" and we reply, "No group...just friends"  It doesn't take much to make a difference...so don't wait, don't worry about who, or what, or how...just do.  An idea 2 years ago has become a tradition that I'd like to see grow for a long time to come.

New Year's Eve Dinner at Central Iowa Shelter

If you are committed to helping serve dinner on New Year's Eve between 5:30PM- and approximately 7:30PM, please either direct message me on twitter. @mitchgroup or leave a comment on this post (or of course email or call me). 

All of the details are on this post.

If you have additional donations of cash, food, or clothing, please let me know as well. 

Central Iowa Shelter donations exceed expectations

At the Ugly Sweater party at Impromptu Studio last week, there was much more going on than met the eye.  It wasn't all about ugly sweaters, twitter handles, and making new connections...it was about doing something for others. 

Daniel Shipton has certainly stepped up and grabbed the ball with this act of giving.  What started as a simple dinner on New Year's Eve to the Central Iowa Shelter turned into a robust effort to gather supplies, toiletries, and non-perishable food items to support the homeless.  Daniel graciously offered up his facility for the party and as a gathering point for donations.   Thank you to ALL OF YOU who donated.

We're still in the planning stages for the dinner and I know Claire Celsi among others are actively looking for some additional food sponsors.

We also have an awesome cash donation so far to support the Central Iowa Shelter!  This is great stuff so stayed tuned for more.

Questions about getting invovled?  Comment below and I'll get in touch.

Next class offering - Becoming Findable on the Web

OK so we renamed my Blogging for Business class offered through the Des Moines Community Education system to see if it change response rates.  Here's the description:

Become Findable on the Web 4 Wks $50
Blogging can be the most effective and affordable form of business marketing. Taught by Doug Mitchell, a successful technology entrepreneur, this class will provide an action-packed workshop-style class. Students will learn to search for, subscribe to, create, and effectively write blogs while gaining a clear understanding of available technologies, most of which are simple and low cost (if not free). Most importantly, students will understand how business blogging can translate into more loyal customers and enhanced 'findability' on the web. The class will include numerous professional-blogger guest speakers from around the metro. Instr: Mitchell
B016201 Roosevelt-107 Wed January 14 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

I hope YOU can join us for a great class that enriches knowledge through robust QA and fun real world examples.

You can register ONLINE or via other methods by clicking on the link below:


Questions?  Let me know!

New Year's Eve Dinner for Central Iowa Shelter

I've formally arranged to serve dinner to 120 people at the Central Iowa Shelter on New Years Eve! 

@ClaireCelsi talked about this shelter and our homeless at Ignite Des Moines a few weeks back.  A group of our friends provided dinner at the shelter last year.  We were done and home before 8PM and had a nice gathering that was much more satisfying since we'd made a whole bunch of people go to sleep warm and happy.

I think we can REALLY make a difference this year.  Although we can't provide enough hot food to stock the place for a week, we can certainly supply them with many other things that sap their resources including many items listed below.

Right now we're working getting a restaurant sponsor for the food.  Last year's chili and cornbread was a HUGE hit...so we'd like to at least initially start with the same concept. 
Can you help find a sponsor?  Know a restaurant that would like to help this great cause?  Please work on the details and get back to me.  If we line up NUMEROUS restaurants, we'll simply work them into other nights of commitment since the shelter does this EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR!

What's needed:

  1. Commitments from 10-15 people who will be on premise to interact, serve, restock, clean, etc.
  2. As mentioned above, a restaurant food sponsor would be ideal so we can focus on delivering additional help.  If we exceed expectations on helpers/support, we'll find another way for you to help so PLEASE sign up no matter how many you count!
  3. Styrofoam Cups
  4. Plates
  5. Plastic Utensils
  6. Can of Coffee (think costco and sams people!)
  7. 10 gallons of milk
  8. Jars of peanut butter
  9. 5 pounds of sugar
  10. Coffee creamer 
  11. We need food to feed 120 people including desserts, milk, etc.
  12. Both male and female hygiene items/personal grooming supplies (shampoo, shaving cream, soap, you name it)
  13. Both male and female clothing
  14. Detergent
  15. Blankets
  16. Socks



  1. The facility is located at 205 15th Street, Des Moines IA 50309. Written correspondence can be sent to this address, or you may contact the agency by phone at 515-284-5719, or by email at [email protected].
  2. Please use the East Entrance for food providers/servers. Go East or West on Locust to 15th, turn right (S) on 15th, cross Walnut, go about 1/2 block to the 1st turn off on your left onto Falcon Drive (this ‘new’ 15th is part of the MLK project). Since you’re bringing the food, go past the Shelter after you’ve turned left. Now you’re going north, turn right (E) and go up the hill to the 1st turn on your right--go into the drive, then right again and down the hill into the C.I.S.S. parking lot. THIS IS A NEWISH LOOKING RANCH-TYPE AMIDST BRICK WAREHOUSE BUILDINGS.
  3. I will be there along with others to guide you and direct you so don't worry. 


  1. Arrive at the back door in the rear parking lot between 5:30PM-5:45PM.
  2. Dinner is served promptly at 6:30PM.  We hope to pick up the food already heated...so there's no prep at the Shelter.  If it's cold for some reason, the "kitchen team" (to be formed) will arrive a bit earlier to ensure things are ready in time.

Please let us know what you can do by entering your commitments in the form below! Thank you so much and we'll be in touch soon.

Fields Marked with a * are required
*Full Name:
*Email Address:
Your website or blog:
Your twitter handle:
I will be a server/kitchen help:
I commit to providing:  Large Can(s) of Coffee
 Gallon(s) of milk
 Kitchen supplies (plates, utensils, napkins, cups)
 Jar(s) of peanut butter
 bag(s) of sugar
 Coffee creamer
 male and female hygiene items
 male and female clothing/socks/jackets
 Laundry Detergent

Blogging for Business - class 4 (the last hoorah...for now)

I had a great time teaching Blogging for Business in Des Moines.  We had a wonderful class filled with robust QA and fantastic people.  Our last class was held at Mars Cafe on University where we had wifi drinks, and a much cooler environment to conduct class. 

A special thanks to Rush Nigut for stopping by and impressing the class with his #1 business blog talk and pointers for our newly indoctrinated students.

It was a pleasure and privilege to teach the class. It was very pleasing to hear those "aha moments" and some oohs and ahhs :)

We can probably lobby for a 201 level course or simply make this one longer if we build some momentum.

Thanks to all!

Blogging For Business Class: If interested, fill out the form below

Please forward this post, reblog/repost if you know people who would like a solid foundational course in "Blogging for Business." 

Hi there:  If you're contemplating taking my Blogging for Business Class in WDM or DSM, please add your information into the form below.  That way, I'll be able to notify you when the registration book/ class catalog comes out.  Of course it's not online "yet" but you know...government agencies are slower to adopt these things. This is NOT actual course registration just a pre-gathered interest list.

Usually, the catalog comes inside the newspaper and is strategically placed around the DSM metro I guess.  I'd love to have you and I think you'll get your money's worth (it's about $50 I think for 4 weeks, 8 hours total).

If you're an expert blogger of course, you're welcome to pay to support our schools, boost my numbers,  and heckle me from the back.  Just be prepared to get a laser pointer burn to your retina.

Fields Marked with a * are required
*Full Name:
*Email Address:
Title (at your company):

New Year's Eve: Serving Dinner at the Iowa Shelter

After the generous donation from Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, I, along with a fantastic group of friends was able to serve a robust (and limitless) dinner to 120 of Iowa's hungry and homeless on New Year's Eve.  Of course mother nature planned to drop to her lowest temps of the year so the hot meal was welcome.

There was even enough food left over to have a full meal again the next day...even after some ate 5 servings.

It bothers me that this is the first time I've done such a thing.  It bothers me that my first reactions when moving through groups of homeless and disheveled people are nervousness and uneasiness.  It bothers me that many of these people are drunk and high  It bothers me that some of them are probably there by choice.  It bothers me that we don't treat veterans like heroes.  It bothers me that I didn't exactly know what to say to everyone and that what I think I should say would be different than to anyone else I meet.  In 2008 I will do my best to openly accept others outside my comfort zone more readily.

It took about 20 minutes to really break down some of the barriers and just "get in the groove" with everyone and you know what...it really turned out great.  There were genuinely appreciative people that told a story of thanks with their eyes. You can't help but wonder about their stories and how they ended up there.  Some looked like they just drove over after getting off of work from their manager position at Wells Fargo.  Some were obviously mentally ill and struggling to cope. 

We've all decided that this is an annual event (at the least).  Thanks again to all.  Please remember as we cozy up in our beautiful homes in the suburbs...that there are hungry and homeless people sleeping in bunks...in very large rooms with 50+ people..just trying to make it through to tomorrow. 

Update on New Year's Eve Party & Chili Cook Off Benefitting the Central Iowa Shelter

In my post from November 24 inviting the blogganostra and friends to a New Year's Eve party, I mentioned that attendees might donate some amount of chili toward the 120 person dinner we're serving at the Central Iowa Shelter on New Year's Eve.  Well guess what.  One of my favorite places to eat and drink, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery,

Has agreed to provide chili AND cornbread for ALL 120 people!

What a gracious gift!  Now, we can focus a bit more on making this dinner extra special for the shelter.  We'll coordinate that in a bit.

We'll still have our chili cook off as planned so bring your best offering...just don't bring enough to feed an army like before :)

Thanks again Rock Bottom and their gracious manager Vickie Wiskow.  The next time you're in Rock Bottom, say thanks to her for making December 31, 2007 a special one for quite a few people in the Des Moines Metro.

New Years Eve...Chili Cook Off Supporting the Central Iowa Shelter!

A while back, I thought it would be a fun gathering to get the greatest culinary talents...(and those with the ability to throw a bunch of stuff into a pot) together for a Chili Cook Off to crown Central Iowa's most prolific purveyor of the product.  Then my wife starts talking about a New Years party and the next thing you know, we're planning. 

Then it dawned on me...(Light bulb appears over head).

You know, we'll probably have enough chili left over to feed an army...so why don't we find a worthy cause that will benefit from this bounty of food?

Bingo!  I began the search and have found The Central Iowa Shelter & Services.  So we've planned a little shindig that will bring together friends for good times, spark a little friendly culinary competition, and provide a meal for those that may find New Years to simply be another cold night without food.  Are you ready to make difference this New Years Eve?  Let's get together and find a way to make it happen!

Here are the preliminary details.

  • Party at the Mitchell House on December 31st.  Feel free to arrive anytime after 6PM.
  • I'll provide my address and phone when I receive your RSVP if you don't already know where I live.
  • Kid friendly and monitored space available for putting down some littler ones as needed upstairs.
  • Chili Cook Off judged by a panel of novices with awards for best spicy and best mild chili...and an "open class" overall winner.  Winners will receive cheap and gaudy prizes.  Judging of the chili will happen at 9PM promptly.  Winners need not be present to win...but if not present (in bathroom or otherwise) your prizes will be distributed to other people that complain loudly.
  • We'll be feeding 120 people.  That's a lot but think about how many people a big pot of chili can feed! I'll be coordinating a couple of large batch productions with a few folks that have the whole "Turkey Fryer with 7 gallon pot" set up so don't be scared.  Try a best guess on serving size for an adult (think big brimmin' bowl) then multiply to come up with your contribution size in "people servings"
  • The shelter serves dinner between 6:30PM-7:30PM.  Some of you who'll volunteer to deliver and serve chili and fixins downtown will need to arrive at my house with your food...by 5:30PM or by 6PM at the shelter if heading down on your own (could possibly change based on amount of food that needs heating but close enough for now)...and will likely be done and heading back to my place by 7:45PM or so.  We'll need about 6 people to serve.  I'm doing it...so we really need 5 now but more will be appreciated.
  • If you cannot come to the party and still want to provide food..PLEASE DO! You're welcome to bring cold chili over to our house and we'll warm it at the shelter!  If you want to make it in December and freeze it, please do! 
  • We'll need bread, corn bread, crackers, butter, juice, and milk to go along with the meal.  Again, those details will be managed by clicking a link near the bottom of this page.

I'm sure I'm missing something, but the place where you'll RSVP, enter your details about coming to the party, assisting in some way, etc. can be accessed by clicking this link.

Please promote this as much as you can so we can make a big impact on quite a few people's lives...and kick off their 2008 with new hope and a full belly.

Below is a personal message from Jean Brown, the Director of the Central Iowa Shelter.


Central Iowa Shelter & Services is an overnight emergency shelter for adult men and women. 
Our mission is to "provide free shelter homeless adults
regardless of physical or emotional conditions, and to facilitate their move toward self-sufficiency".
Guests can stay for 30-60 days in 68 men's beds and 34 women's beds.
There are no pre-requisites to stay and we admit people in any condition that they may present.  There is never a charge to the guest to stay.
Meals are provided, as are laundry and shower facilities.
Once a week Medical Clinic is here to provide services on site.
We also have 14 beds of Veteran's Transitional housing and those Vets can stay up to 2 years.
I have been the Director for going on 8 years now and it is the most gratifying work I have done.  Educating the public to the facts of homelessness is one of our biggest challenges.  I still hear comments like "they just need to get a job".  The fact is most of our guests are experts at getting jobs and many of them work.  However, they are not experts at keeping jobs and for the most part are unable to make enough money to sustain themselves and pay rent.
Many (over 60%) suffer from mental illness and when their symptoms begin to manifest they lose everything they may have put together for themselves, and end up back in shelter. I admire their fortitude in the face of overwhelming odds, each time they pick themselves up and keep trying.
Life is difficult, wages are low, rent is high, affordable housing is lacking and the support systems that we all need are not available to the disenfranchised of our community.
I leave here grateful every day that we have been able to keep the doors open and be of some assistance to those who have no other means to make it. The folks who serve meals here 365 days a year for over 16 years are my heroes.  Without them we might not have been able to keep this effort up for as long as we have.
CISS has a special function in serving some very special people.  We continue to do that with the help of those who understand and share their wealth and time.
The Universe smiles on CISS.
Jean Brown
Executive Director
Central Iowa Shelter & Services
205-15th St.
Des Moines, Ia. 50309
fax 515-883-1692