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Kids Running

About Us

In the beginning...

In 1994 a local non-profit that was serving the community began to brainstorm how to support Pella area families. Out of those initial discussions, an advisory committee was formed and eventually through their efforts, grants were received to start some parenting classes for the community.

In the early years, much of that material came though Iowa State extension services and an organization called Active Parenting. Since 2000, we have been delighted to encourage parents through the use of the Love and Logic resources. The interest and appreciation for parenting classes and resources took off in 1994 and remains strong 25 years later. 

Over the years the committee saw increasing opportunities to support families. They felt that focus could be better achieved by developing their own non-profit organization. So, in 2006, Families First became an official non-profit organization.

Families First is an organization completely sustained through gracious donations and grants. We deeply appreciate the support of the Pella community!    

Through these past 25 years, the structure and direction has grown and been molded to fit the changing needs of our community. As you continue to peruse our website you will get the feel of the many things that today are organized and provided through the Families First organization. 

Our main goal of helping to strengthen Pella’s families has always been consistent, and we look forward to continuing to meet the ever changing needs of local families at all stages of parenting.



Board of Directors

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Allison Kerndt, Director

I grew up in Pella, and I have experienced firsthand the extraordinary support our community extends to its families, both as a child, and now as a parent. I am honored to be a part of that support system while working with Families First!

My husband, Cory, and I have three children. Our family has truly enjoyed the many family-bonding events and parenting classes that Families First offers.

I am very grateful for all of the businesses, organizations, and volunteers who support Families First with their time and finances! I believe that children thrive when their families are strong, and families are stronger when they live in communities that help them succeed.

Stacy Schutte, Financial Coordinator/Grant Writer
John Carey
Ali Cranmer

My name is Ali Cranmer, I have the honor of being the Next Gen Pastor at Third Church. I am married to an incredible man named Mike and we have two daughters. We heard about Families First through our girls elementary school. We love the values of Families First. We love that Families First promotes family learning opportunities and family bonding opportunities.

Derek De Haan

Derek De Haan is a Pella native and a 2003 Pella Christian High School graduate. He and his wife Lindsey live in Pella with their four beautiful daughters: Bella, Grace, Lillian, and Evelyn. Derek started Brand Appeal, a creative agency specializing in branding, print, web, interactive, and video in 2010. He loves spending time with his family, being involved in his church, and playing, coaching, or watching sports. He enjoys being part of the Pella community and is passionate about seeing it flourish from one generation to the next.

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Sarah Kuennen

I have been an educator at Pella Community Schools since 2009.  In that time I have taught 5th grade, been the preschool - 3rd grade instructional coach, and am now serving the schools as the Early Childhood Education Director.  With having four kids of our own, my husband, Nick, and I love this community and the focus it has on family.  We have benefitted from Families First as parents ourselves, but I'm also excited to team up with Families First as an administrator in the schools.  When the school, community, and families come together, the children in our community can thrive!

Julia Tjeerdsma

My name is Julia Tjeerdsma and I am the school counselor at Madison Elementary. My husband Scott also works for Pella Schools, and we have three children. Strong family connections are essential to a child’s development and I am thankful for a community partner like Families First that exists to support this goal. When we work together as families, schools, and community partners, we can support family development in our whole community. 

Sarah Treft

My name is Sarah Treft and I am a Pella native! I have always enjoyed the close-knit community and the chance to be involved. Families First drew me in with the Love and Logic parenting classes and my children really enjoy the book bashes as well as the Father/Daughter Dance. I am honored to be a part of the steering committee and continue to provide opportunities to help families thrive. I work for the Pella High School Athletic Office. My husband, Scott teaches 3rd grade at Madison Elementary. We have 3 girls, McKyndree, Lillian and Taytum. We love to volunteer, attend sporting events or festivals as a family.

Carissa Vander Linden

My name is Carissa Vander Linden, and I work full-time from home as a CART Provider/Broadcast Closed Captioner. My husband, Zach, owns VL Farms Inc., and we have 3 children that keep us very busy! I love being a part of the Families First Steering Committee and greatly support and encourage the work they do here in our community.

Ashley Van Dyke

My name is Ashley Van Dyke, I am the School Counselor at Lincoln Elementary. My husband Kevin also works for the Pella Community School District at Jefferson Intermediate. We have four children, Kaden, Ellie, Blaine, and Brooks. Children are our world, we spend our working hours with kids at school, and our non-working hours at home with our own children. I feel so blessed to be part of a community that values families and relationships. Families First is such an amazing organization. We are so fortunate to have their programming, knowledge, and willingness to reach out and do what they can to make our community a better place that helps ground us to the things that are truly important, our families and our relationships. 

Natasha Vos

I am happy to serve with the Board of Directors because I love having the opportunity to help strengthen families! Families are such a building block in our community and world.

Teri Vos

Teri Vos is an advocate for children and families in a number of ways, first and foremost as wife and mother to three teenage/young adult children.  Her career pathway has led her to membership on the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, Co-Chair of Million Women Mentors – Iowa, Pella Area Community and Economic Alliance Workforce Development Chair and others.  These roles, along with serving on the board for Families First of Pella, has deepened her commitment to and interest in advancing the well-being of young people, by helping them discover their own passions and skills, role models and opportunities, right here in Iowa.  Teri feels blessed to be in a community with a rich history that revolves around family, and a Families First organization that continues to encourage and enhance those family relationships today.

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