Brenda Ristvedt believes all children deserve to be healthy, safe, loved and educated. That's why she's worked as the Executive Director of the Buchanan County Volunteer Co-op for 30 years.
"It's an organization based on the belief none of us can raise our children alone," said Brenda Ristvedt.
The Volunteer Co-op, which is based in Independence, served more than 340 families in Buchanan County last year. It provides in-home visitations, car seat checks, blankets to newborns, and whatever else a family may need. Staffers also visit seventh graders in Buchanan County to talk about making good choices.
"We talk about substances, dating, partnership, and pressures," said Ristvedt.
Brenda Ristvedt was recently selected as Iowa's nominee for the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families Commissioner's Award. It recognizes people with outstanding contributions for prevention of child abuse and neglect.
"I think because she believes in what she's doing. It's not just a job, it's a life's calling," said Bob Hill.
Co-op Board of Directors member Bob Hill said another key to Ristvedt's success is her ability to keep employees.
Employees like Donna Boos with 15 years of experience. She also received services from the co-op when she was a new mother.
"Brenda keeps people here on a salary most wouldn't consider working on," said Hill.
Besides leading the Volunteer Co-op, Ristvedt is also a trainer for Healthy Families America and for research based Nurturing Programs.
"Someone told me not too long ago the co-op is Buchanan County's best kept secret, and I think that's probably because we just do what we do," said Ristvedt.
Doing her job to make sure children in Iowa have the best possible beginning.