Arvid Huisman serves as Development and Communications Director for the Salvation Army, Des Moines. He was born in Algona (Kossuth County) and, as a youth, lived near Titonka, Ellsworth, Jewell and Kamrar where his father worked for local farm coops. Prior to joining the Salvation Army in 2007, Arvid served in the broadcast and print professions including careers with KJFJ Radio and Daily Freeman Journal (Webster City), Sioux City Journal, Creston News Advertiser, Ames Tribune, Dallas County Newspapers and the Iowa Newspaper Foundation.
Aaron Putze: What do the Salvation Army and farming have in common?
Arvid Huisman: We're about serving others. We're motivated to do good work and we rely on our faith to be successful. We don't seek attention, stay focused on our job and want to be successful at what we do for the betterment of others.
Aaron: You've had a career in print and broadcast journalism which included a stint as an agricultural writer. How did that come about?
Arvid: I was working in radio in Webster City when I took a job as a sports writer for the Daily Freeman Journal. When they found out I had used a pitchfork and knew what cows were, I became the ag writer, too. I really wasn't qualified for either but was grateful for the opportunity!
Aaron: You then moved on to the Sioux City Journal where you worked during the farm crisis of the 1980s. It made an impression on you. How?
Arvid: Having grown up in rural communities, I had a profound respect for what it took to be a farmer. When the crisis hit and families were losing their farms, some asked why farmers didn't just "go to town and get a job?" I told them that farming isn't a job, but a way of life. There's a sense of freedom with farming despite requiring 18-hour work days. It remains a way of life today, even though the economic circumstances have changed.
Aaron: How did your career in journalism and your work with the Iowa Newspaper Association prepare you for your role with Salvation Army?
Arvid: I have the ability to meet and visit with anyone because I grew up visiting with everyone. When I traveled with the Iowa Newspaper Foundation, I was in and out of small communities and would stop at the nearest Casey's and chat with the farmers who had gathered there. Those skills have served me well. For me, striking up a conversation is natural and sincere. I love to meet people.
Aaron: Tell me about the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign.
Arvid: It's our most significant funding source. The most recent bell ringing campaign, which began in early November and continued through Christmas Eve, generated nearly $400,000. The mail, phone and Internet campaign will continue into early January. Through Christmas Eve, the overall campaign Red Kettles and mail had generated more than $832,000.
Aaron: What's the best-kept secret about the Salvation Army?
Arvid: Our mobile canteen. It goes out every Tuesday and Friday morning at 5 a.m. I'm an early bird and have followed it several times to take photos for our publications. We stop at five locations throughout Des Moines and serve the homeless and near homeless with a good, warm meal.
Aaron: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Arvid: Serving people. It's difficult to express what you feel when holding a baby that will have food to eat, a clean diaper to wear and a warm place to sleep. That's what you're in it for.
Aaron: Describe what it means to be an Iowan.
Arvid: Heartfelt. The more I'm here, the more I love this state.
Aaron Putze serves as the Iowa Soybean Association's director of communications and coordinator of the Iowa Food & Family Project (www.iowafoodandfamily.com). He can be reached at email@example.com or 515-334-1099. Funded in part by the soybean checkoff.