For the second year in a row, three local entities, The 712 InitiativeHabitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs and TS Bank have partnered on a program called, AMP for Neighborhoods, which helps Council Bluffs homeowners needing exterior home improvements. Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, the program will continue for 2022.

AMP focuses on individual homeowner projects along with neighborhood block initiatives. The AMP program also assists the Habitat for Humanity of Council Bluffs home repair programming offerings, where after assessment; Habitat’s construction crew may make arrangement for repairs.

Individuals are encouraged to nominate themselves or a neighbor with outdoor housing repairs or improvement needs. Project requests can range from painting, fencing, siding, driveways, sidewalks, windows, roofing, exterior doors and landscaping. Applications will be available May 1 through June 30, 2022.

“We are so grateful to the anonymous donor for continuing this program to support Council Bluffs homeowners,” said CEO of The 712 Initiative, Sheryl Garst. “We encourage all Council Bluffs citizens to be on the lookout for neighbors that might need a helping hand.”

In addition to the donated funds, the program has been successful in leveraging donations for labor and materials from small businesses wanting to get involved, including tree trimming, roofing, etc. Local contractors also received a boost from the AMP for neighborhoods program, as several timely projects helped sustain typical year-end lull times for construction companies.AMP Brandy CB

In its inaugural year, over 50 applications were received in the Council Bluffs area and a total of 33 projects were selected including 31 homeowners, one neighborhood association and one request for a community wide dumpster day to be held this spring. Over $165,000 of the $253,887 donated has been expensed and nearly all 2021 projects will be completed by June 2022.

The AMP program assistance was greatly appreciated by local homeowners who have experienced various hardships the last several years.

Nominated by a neighbor, Brandy VanRiessen is a working, single mom of three children. Between her family responsibilities and home maintenance needs, it was challenging to find time for home improvement projects and yardwork. Brandy had originally started single-handedly disassembling her deck but the projected stalled. With the financial boost from AMP, plus some additional hours from herself and volunteers, her back deck is now rebuilt and safe.

“This deck project has been the biggest blessing to me and my kids. I am so thankful,” said Brandy Van Riessen. “My old deck was crumbling and unsafe for my kids. Now, we are able to have family dinners, dance parties and neighbor kids come play. This will definitely have a huge generational impact on my family and our neighbor friends.”

Van Riessen continued, “Everyone involved in this program was amazing to work with, professional and caring to myself and my kids. They involved us in the process, so making the deck became a memory we will have forever. Having the deck built on a foundation with Bible verses and handprints of my kids makes this deck so special to our family. The blessing of this will allow my family to create lifelong memories together as my children grow and overwhelmed with gratitude.”

AMP CB Brandy House Before After

With storm damage and high winds, several in the community needed a boost, including veteran Robert Shamblen and wife Gloria Shamblen. The couple would like to stay in their home as they age; however, they needed a new secure railing, updated glass door and porch, roof repairs and tree removal. Fortunately, both the tree trimming and the new roof (coming soon) were taken care of by local businesses at no cost. These in-kind donations allowed AMP money to be used for a new railing from the street up to their house, along with a new door and deck, which will be completed this spring.

“This was such a good experience and really appreciative of the help. Our place looks so nice with the help of this AMP program,” shared Gloria Shamblen.


Also needing major porch repair due to storm damage was Amy Storm. Due to a fallen tree, the need became a must. The homeowner is beyond grateful for the completed project

“I am rising up from past hardships and loving my new life and new challenges. I’m so grateful AMP gave me such a boost in my home,” said homeowner, Amy Storm.

AMP CB Amy before after

“This is just the beginning of this program transforming neighborhoods in our communities,” said TS Bank, Director of Public Relations, Kelsey Stupfell. “The AMP program is a great example of leaders, for-profit and nonprofit organizations and community members coming together to help address community needs and make a direct impact. It is a way to help beautify one home, one yard at time to create lasting impact in Council Bluffs.”

If you have any questions or want to help volunteer, please contact Turner Morgan at or 712-396-2467. AMP for neighborhood applications can be found at

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