When Linda Hoffmann glanced out the window, a smile broke out across her face.
There went Ewald Gerken, her elderly neighbor, cruising by on his bicycle.
It was her little secret.
Years before, she had bought it for him knowing he could no longer drive to get around Cascade. She had a police officer sneak it onto his porch and leave it for him.
Finding ways to give back, make others feel special or highlight her hometown mean a lot to her. It’s just the little things that make all the difference, Hoffmann said.
“(It) doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a bike, but to me, the little things can mean the most,” she said. “I like to be discreet, but sometimes word leaks out. I really believe in paying forward and donating your time.”
Hoffmann, a lifelong Cascade resident, said her gift for giving is genetic.
Her parents owned the Lyons Service Center for 58 years and were involved with the Cascade Area Chamber of Commerce. Her dad, Pat “Blackie” Lyons, served on the City Council, and her mom, Betty Lyons, helped out with Girl Scouts in the area.
“I don’t remember anything different,” she said. “It goes back not to just my parents, but my grandma was a wonderful person. She died at 93 and volunteered up until she died.”
A few years ago, Cascade started hosting Rockin’ On The River events at Riverview Park and Hoffmann found herself thinking what they were missing for the event was an amphitheater. She located an old structure in Pennsylvania while on the internet. Inspired by the design, Hoffmann talked with people from the area who said they would be willing to donate limestone to make an amphitheater.
Hoffmann asked the City Council for $50,000 to help get the project going, and with the support of other local residents, she raised the rest.
“We wrote a couple grants, so in the end we built this amphitheater for $150,000,” she said. “This town is really good at backing you if you come up with something.”
Recently, someone stopped into the Lyons Service Center Towing and Recovery where Hoffmann works and expressed their hopes to hang Christmas lights up on a big tree in Riverview Park.
“I said, ‘If you want to light that tree, I will find the money to light the tree,’” Hoffmann said.
Well, $1,000 later and multiple trips to Menards, the entire park was decorated with lights and ornaments.
Cascade City Administrator Deanna McCusker said Hoffmann is on any and every committee she can be and is committed to giving back to Cascade.
“She is a very outgoing person and loves Cascade and does whatever it takes to make things happen,” she said.
Hoffmann said she doesn’t know any different. It’s what her parents did and what she knows to do for the city she loves.
“I always brag that we live in a one stoplight town. I can walk through town, and my hand is up all day waving because everyone knows everyone.”