DES MOINES, Iowa — You’ve probably seen them over town, signs wishing people a happy birthday or just spreading positivity. Julie Groeteke is one of the masterminds behind the signs. She’s the owner of Card My Yard Des Moines.
Her signs are becoming more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s just a fun way to celebrate a birthday in a big way. The last couple of weeks, it has really blown up. People are trying to think outside the box. What can we do to make my little boy or girl’s birthday special? What can we do for Grandma who’s turning 80, but none of us can get there to see her,” Groeteke said.
Groeteke works when everyone else is asleep, running around the Des Moines area to make sure customers wake up feeling surprised and loved. As of late, she’s been putting up about 10 different signs a day for those who can’t celebrate milestones the way we are used to right now.
“The grandma who said a little fairy visited her during the night, or the little boy that said he felt like a king when his card was in his yard and he had the parade going by,” Groeteke said. “I mean those are the things that fill my cup every single day, and just kind of make me know that this is the best job ever.”
Beyond birthdays and anniversaries, she’s starting to also provide signs free of charge thanking health care workers or sending uplifting messages to those in senior living communities and nursing homes.
“Inspiration for the nursing homes kind of came about because my mom is in a nursing home in Nebraska. It’s been hard. You can’t go to visit her. We’ve done some window visits, which obviously are not the same, but they’re something. So I know the residents are lonely and they’re missing their families and their loved ones. So I thought, how fun would it be when they go out for breakfast to have a big area with an open window in a grassy area to have just a little cheer,” Groeteke said.
She currently has a sign that reads “heroes work here” up outside of Bishop Drumm retirement home in Johnston.
“The people that are working in the frontlines, medical, the grocery store workers, postal services, I mean, there’s a lot of people that are still out there doing work. There’s a lot of heroes out there. So this is something that they can drive by and kind of an honor to all those heroes who are out working,” Groeteke said.
This morning Channel 13’s Whitney Blakemore stopped by as Groeteke was installing a sign for a birthday out in Urbandale.