Feeding others is a passion that has motivated Reva Pownell of Huron to lead a life of service for the past quarter century — a passion she plans to put to work as she joins her son, Jeff, in the new Pop Ice Cream Shop located in the former Habicht’s Building on Dakota Avenue.
Along with ice cream, they will serve a simple menu.
They are still working on remodeling the interior of the building, which provides housing for Pownell and her husband, Roger, and their son, Jeff and his wife, Yendy, and four cats.
Because of COVID-19, they are hoping to hold a “soft” opening at some point this year, with plans for a grand opening celebration next spring. They expect both of their sons and their grandchildren to be on hand for that special event.
“We’re kind of waiting to see how the fair does, how the schools do, as to whether we have a soft opening, as Jeff puts it,” she said. “Definitely next spring will be the grand opening full force. In the meantime, we’re working on it.”
For the past 15 years, Pownell and Roger have both volunteered and worked with the Salvation Army — she in the food pantry, he in both the pantry and the thrift store. Their final day at the Salvation Army was on Tuesday. She volunteered in the pantry three years, then was employed for the past 12. Roger volunteered with her in the pantry, and also began working in the thrift store when they needed help about three years ago.
“We came back to Huron in 2005 to retire and do something in the community worthwhile,” she said. “At Christmas we went into the Salvation Army and it was so packed with food. They said, ‘Gee, would you like to volunteer?’”
Prior to returning to Huron, Pownell had started a food pantry in a small Kansas town in response to a neighbor who needed help feeding her family. They talked to the county about finding help for her, and discovered the county had a food pantry with only two sacks of food.
“They gave me the old jail on the third floor of the courthouse and I started a food pantry,” she said. “We just brought in our friends as volunteers. I gave speeches to all the social clubs and churches, and we got enough donations to manage that. It was a great thing to do, and a great experience.
“Unfortunately a lot of towns think they don’t have hungry, but many need support,” she added. “Right now a lot of people are out of work and just need that extra little bit. Cindy Wilk works closely with Christmas food boxes given out with the Angel Tree presents.
“It just takes a lot of people working together that love serving,” she added.
Cindy Wilk, who serves on the Salvation Army Board of Directors, said they will miss Pownell and her cheerful willingness to help.
“She is a wonderful person to work with,” Wilk said. “Jolly on the spot, willing to do anything. It’s been an honor and a joy to work with her.”
Friend and former neighbor Rhonda Kludt said Pownell has always been “our go-to person” for anything they needed help with when she was director of the United Way.
“We worked very closely with the backpack program,” Kludt said. “She was the person we turned to to find out what the need was in Huron. She had her finger on everything going on. She knew people in need, and knew what was coming down the pike that would indicate a bigger need for food.
“She just has such a caring compassionate heart,” Kludt added. “All she ever wanted to do was feed hungry people.”
And feeding people is something Pownell is looking forward to doing when this family-owned ice cream parlor is ready to open for customers.
It will be a family affair, featuring Grandma’s Cookies, a recipe her late mother, Ina Belle Bloodgood, won many ribbons for at the State Fair.
“We plan to display her fair ribbons in frames,” she added. “She’s going to be part of this — it’s definitely family. My family have been here since the 1880s.”
They also plan to display huge pictures they had created depicting historic downtown scenes of Huron.
Pop will feature a full seating area with a kitchen in the back on the main level, and a basement level that will feature a platform with microphone and a seating area for groups to plan dinner meetings or family events.
“We’re just kind of open to suggestions there,” Pownell said.
The third level of the building is being renovated to provide housing for both families and their cats.
Her son, Jeff, had been thinking about opening a shop of some kind in downtown Huron for several years.
“Jeff lived in San Diego,” Pownell said. “Every time he’d come to visit he would walk downtown and look at the buildings. He said I think we can do this.
“We’re trying to reinvent our town. Our former mayor (Paul Aylward) told us he hopes we would spark an interest. There’s plenty of buildings here we would like to reinvent — it’s sad to see towns lose their individuality. Think of all the stores and businesses they had.
“Jeff says he hopes the community knows we’re here to add to downtown,” she added. “We like serving and helping others.”