Readers feeling the tiniest bit Grinch-like with the holidays approaching need look no further than Asbury, Iowa, for a story sure to make your heart grow three sizes.

Her name might not be Cindy Lou Who, but it was at the suggestion of a little girl that a heartwarming community event is in the offing.

Eleanor Johnson, age 8, wrote a letter to Asbury city officials asking them to consider starting a holiday tree-lighting festival. She had big ideas for the event, complete with Christmas carols and cups of cocoa.

City leaders liked the idea and got to work bringing her vision to life — cocoa, carols and all.

Plans call for the tree-lighting ceremony to be at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, in Asbury Park. Attendees are encouraged to bring ornaments to hang on the tree. A Toys for Tots donation box also will be available for donations of new, unwrapped gifts for children who need them.

A Christmas cheer for Eleanor, who inspired the leaders in her community to organize an event for all to enjoy. As the Grinch learned, Christmas doesn’t come from a store. “Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

It might have been just a move across the street, but the transition for Crescent Community Health Center has been a long journey in the making.

This week marked the opening of the new facility at 1690 Elm St., not far from its previous downtown location. That’s good news for the more than 6,000 area residents who are uninsured or underinsured and will receive services there in the coming year. Having a facility that’s easily accessible from low-income neighborhoods is a critical piece of Crescent’s community connection.

The new site will be a one-stop shop for clients whether they are seeking medical attention, dental care or brain health needs.

In its new home, Crescent can reach beyond basic health care needs. A new training kitchen will allow center staff to host classes, teaching clients — many of whom have diabetes or subsist on heavily processed foods — ways to prepare fresh, nutritious and inexpensive meals.

What an incredible life lesson to offer a population that might lack that knowledge.

Crescent’s new space fills a need in the Dubuque community for accessible health care for low-income residents. Its location and amenities will allow stakeholders to reach beyond barriers and connect with those in need.

Another channel to address the needs of residents was opened recently when Dubuque was one of six communities selected for the Cities of Opportunity initiative offered by the National League of Cities.

Supported by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the yearlong technical-assistance initiative aims to help cities advance policies that address underlying factors affecting the health and well-being of residents.

Dubuque will focus on combating poverty by removing barriers to accessible and affordable child care, which prevent residents from entering the workforce and taking classes to train for high-demand careers.

It makes sense to dig down to the root of what’s keeping some people out of the workforce: affordable child care. In Dubuque, the concern has become particularly acute. From 2014 to 2019, Dubuque County experienced a decrease of 60 licensed day care providers — a 27% decline that equates to a loss of 876 child care spaces.

Focusing on the issue and combining problem-solving efforts with other cities across the country could give Dubuque a huge boost in addressing this key issue.

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