Commitment to Family: The Rev. Nathan and Tina Sherrill Family
Nathan and Tina are fun-loving parents whose life together with their children is structured around Christian worship, education and service.
Nathan is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Council Bluffs, where he is an active promoter of Christian education. He helped establish an Early Childhood Center, Music Conservatory, Christ Academy, Camp Creation and other opportunities for Christian education at the church. He is part of a local organization called Love CB, which brings together Christians in the Bluffs.
If you visit the Sherrill home, start outdoors. Their huge yard is filled with an amazing garden, big riding toys, a sturdy swing set, a climbing tree with a slide, a monster fire pit and plenty of room to throw a football. This family has a serious commitment to outdoor fun.
Often, the fun has a purpose. Tina has a degree in elementary education and home-schools three of their six children, using the yard for part of their lessons. She also teaches piano, has accompanied church and school choirs, and teaches Sunday school.
Music is a major interest of the family. The oldest three children study piano and perform in recitals and the local music festival. They also are members of St. Paul Children's Choir. Additionally, 10-year-old son Isaac cantors for church services and funerals, and is learning to play the pipe organ.
Just before bedtime, the family gathers to close the day with a “hymn sing.”
Challenged and Successful: Nicole and Chris Shives Family
Nicole and Chris are a young couple who have faced her serious health problems together. They met at Iowa Western Community College, where she was an athletic trainer and he was head golf coach. In September 2008, an MRI revealed a lesion on the left side of Nicole's brain. Her doctors recommended yearly MRIs for follow-up. The scare prompted Chris to propose.
Nicole became a faculty member in the Biology Department. She had complications during son Jaxson's birth, needed a blood transfusion and was hospitalized for five days. In October of 2010, Nicole scheduled another brain MRI and learned she needed surgery to remove the tumor for a biopsy.
Nicole had the surgery in mid-December, when Jaxson was 5 months old. Chris became the primary caregiver for Nicole and their son, with support and help from both of their families. Nicole was recovering well, but during her follow-up visit on Jan. 5, 2011, her neurosurgeon informed her the tumor was a malignant cancer called anaplastic astrocytoma. She would need seven weeks of radiation therapy.
One week later, Nicole's gynecologist found a mass on her right ovary, which required another surgery Jan. 14. The tumor they removed was benign, so on Jan. 17, she began radiation therapy for her brain cancer.
While all this was going on, Nicole was starting her career as a college instructor, obtaining a second master's degree and being a full-time mother and wife. Chris wanted to be home more, so he left his job as golf coach to be a corporate events director with the American Heart Association.
Nicole has been cancer-free for more than two years. She serves on several IWCC leadership committees and projects. The couple's second child, Ashlyn, was born in April 2012.
Leadership: Martha and Dan Peterson
Martha and Dan are owners of Peterson Angus Farms. They have provided important leadership to southwest Iowa communities for more than a decade and carry on a tradition of service learned from their parents and extended families.
The Peterson home and farm are near Neola, Iowa; Underwood is where their children go to school; Council Bluffs is where the bulk of their community work takes place. The couple values education as an important component of life. They became involved with Iowa Western Community College a decade ago, growing from committee members to board members to last year's chairmen for the IWCC Black Tie Harvest for Scholarships.
They serve on several boards and committees, both together and individually. In addition to IWCC, Dan and Martha are involved with the Council Bluffs Guild of the Omaha Symphony, Bluffs Arts Council, Alegent Charitable Council, Children's Square and the Visiting Nurse Association.
The family is a tight-knit group. The children accompany their parents to community events and pitch in when help is needed. All the kids belong to 4-H, and family members support each other's projects.
Daughter Alexandra, a freshman at Iowa State University, is studying agricultural business and is a member of several agricultural committees. Anna, a junior at Underwood High School, is vice president of the 4-H group and manager of the volleyball and track teams. Son Aiden shows cattle at 4-H and is involved in several sports with younger brother Andrew.
Martha credits their church, extended family and friends for helping them get through the healing after Alexandra was critically injured in a car accident. As a result, the family is now involved with Red Cross blood drives, especially for the one in their daughter's name.