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Empowering Women: Tanager’s Legacy, Tanager’s Future

Tanager was founded by Eleanor Lund, an extraordinary woman who was relentless in her efforts to meet the needs of children in Cedar Rapids in the mid-1860s.  A 1985 article published in The Gazette reads:


“Opportunities were scarce for a 26-year-old widow in 1864.  Times were hard. Men returned from the Civil War maimed, unable to support their families.  Some never returned at all.  As a public schoolteacher, Eleanor had a window seat from which she observed that those most cruelly affected …. were the children.  She saw them daily in her classroom – orphaned, abandoned, neglected or just plain poor.”


For the next 15 years, Eleanor cared for children in her home while she gathered support from churchgoers, teachers, and friends to make her dream of a mission school become a reality.  In January of 1880, Eleanor’s prayers were answered when she welcomed 27 youth scholars into Hope Mission, an abandoned chapel transformed into a mission school, where she tended to their “physical, educational and moral needs.”


Throughout the next two decades, Eleanor Lund and her assistants “sheltered, nursed and tutored well over 100 people, including 30 children, many of whom had been left as babies.  By the time the new Children’s Home was dedicated in 1901, at least 850 lives had been touched by the institution that had begun as the frustrated dream of a dedicated schoolteacher.”


Although Tanager’s mission was not officially adopted until 2018, it was conceived over a century ago by Eleanor Lund, a woman whose faith, fortitude and fearlessness provided children and families with services that inspired, empowered and healed.

Written by: Tanager’s Jenni Archibald

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