HER MAGAZINE

Women of Achievement: Elizabeth Riechers' devotion to service

'I was very fortunate and I loved my job'

“If I would hear of a need, I would do something about it,” says Elizabeth Anne Proffitt Riechers says. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
“If I would hear of a need, I would do something about it,” says Elizabeth Anne Proffitt Riechers says. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Elizabeth Riechers’ community service track record is well-summarized in one statement.

“If I would hear of a need, I would do something about it,” she said.

Case in point: During the 2008 flood, with the Aging and Disability Resource Center she directed housed temporarily at Westdale Mall, Riechers learned people were coming in to seek assistance for HIV-related issues. So she later obtained funding for a case management program to help them.

The Linn County Ryan White Program continues to this day, offering confidential services to people throughout Iowa who are living with HIV/AIDS.

During her 28 years with Linn County Community Services, Riechers developed and directed numerous sustaining grant programs to help families, women and the frail elderly.

“I had a supportive boss and a call to service,” she said. “I was very fortunate and I loved my job.”

Through Linn County Home Health, Riechers helped older and disabled adults receive in-home personal care, grocery shopping, laundry services and light housekeeping services so they could remain in their homes and out of care centers.

At the Aging and Disability Resource Center, she coordinated the provision of counseling services regarding long-term care options and assistance with benefits applications.

She also wrote and received a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women to establish the Family Visitation Center Protective Program.

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“The thing I’m most proud of is getting a federal grant for a supervised visitation center,” she said. “There was such a need for people in violent situations.”

The center, which provides supervised visits and safe exchanges for families affected by domestic violence, was the first of its kind in Iowa.

“At the time I retired, it provided services for about 25 families,” she said. “It’s since served hundreds of families. I’m really pleased that it still continues.”

Following her retirement in 2014, Riechers continued to serve the community through volunteer work with the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa and the Greater Cedar Rapids Area Help-Portrait, an organization that takes family portraits at holiday time for those who can’t afford photography services.

While she still is involved in those organizations, she is focusing more of her time on immigration changes. Her interest in this issue grew from a three-year process to get her Honduran daughter-in-law into the country.

She now shares those lessons she and her family learned with others in similar situations.

Riechers admits that balancing her devotion to community service with her personal interests, such as traveling, sometimes can be a struggle.

“It’s always a question of how do I retire and still stay involved without getting overextended,” she said.

• Once a month, Business 380 will spotlight one of HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.

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