Last fall the YWCA launched a capital campaign, the first major funding initiative since 1998. The purpose of the Windows on the World campaign has been twofold: initially we sought to match a $135,000 grant from the Office of Energy Efficiency, which has allowed us to replace all the windows on the residential floors of the building while updating both the HVAC and lighting in the same area. That portion of the goal has been met. Overall, the campaign is seeking $500,000 to complete needed building improvements today and to plan for a major update of plumbing systems in the future. All contributions received as part of the capital campaign are designated for capital improvements for the building located at 826 First Ave. N.
The YWCA has always provided housing for women; it has only been in the last 25 years that we have emphasized housing for women in difficult circumstances. We know that homelessness is an outcome rather than a choice, and that many factors play a role in a woman and her children becoming homeless.
This capital campaign isn't about supporting programs that exist today. We aren't asking for money to pay for staff or curriculums. This campaign is targeting changes in the building we have needed desperately - new windows and a new HVAC system. It's also about things the building will need in the future. We can see falling ceilings in some client rooms that need fixing - places where wind and water invaded the building through those worn-out windows. Most rooms need durable flooring that can be cleaned and shined instead of dirty, stained carpeting or cracked floor tiles that may be as old as the building itself. We know we need to combine several sets of rooms to make larger living spaces for mothers with three or more children. Also on our radar is a complete update of the 100-year-old plumbing in this building. We need to set aside money today to match a potential grant. Only a special fund - The YWCA Preserve and Prosper Fund - restricted to building improvement can provide the certainty we need.
Since becoming licensed as a Halfway House in 2007, the YWCA has made significant strides in developing high quality substance abuse programming which runs seamlessly and side by side with traditional homeless housing for women. In the most recent credentialing by Magellan Health Services, the YWCA was awarded a score of 99 percent. This percentage is based on the outcome of an on-site visit which evaluates clinical information and supporting documentation. For our clients, this means the YWCA of Fort Dodge continues to be eligible to receive referrals for contracted services. Whether our clients come to us by referral from another program or refer themselves, they can be assured the program we offer matches or exceeds the quality of other programs in the state. Most recently, the YWCA was awarded three-year certification by the Iowa Department of Public Health. The Bureau of Substance Abuse within the Iowa Department of Public Health is responsible for licensing and monitoring the administration and overall compliance with licensure standards of approximately 110 substance abuse treatment programs in the state.
YWCA programs are goal-oriented, which means setting high expectations for clients. While a few do not complete the program, most do. Those who do find self-sufficiency is linked to entering the work force and learning to manage resources. These skills can be practiced and refined while living at the YWCA, making the transition to independent living an event worthy of celebration.
Of the $262,000 raised to date, $50,000 is a dollar-for -dollar match from anonymous donors who believe in the YWCA and its work. The voices of YWCA clients have been instrumental in telling our story. Could you imagine readying your small children for church in the public restroom of an area gas station? Or leaving your mother's hospital bed following her brain death and termination of life support to shoot meth because you can't deal with the pain any other way? One client recounts beginning the regular abuse of alcohol at age 7 only to become an addict by age 12. These are the stories of people who live in our community - people who have overcome some of the most difficult obstacles of their lives.
You can visit our website - YWCA.org/fortdodge - to view the video and pledge online. The YWCA has been a part of the fabric of our community for a hundred years. Today we need your help. Your gift today offers tax benefits to you in the year the donation is made, but its life extends far longer into the future empowering success and nurturing hope and courage. Donors of the Windows on the World campaign will be recognized through a special donor appreciation wall in the front lobby of the YWCA.
For more information, please contact the YWCA, 573-3931.
Ann Davidson is director of the Fort Dodge YWCA.