For more than a century, the YWCA of Fort Dodge has provided shelter and has acted as a source of comfort for women in need of a place to live and looking for a chance to build a new life.
Throughout the years, the mission to help women and their children has remained, but the addition of new programs and a substance abuse recovery program has allowed the local YWCA organization to reach out and help as many women as possible.
"We keep closely affiliated with the national YWCA organization," said Ann Davidson, director of the Fort Dodge YWCA. "The benefits of that are very good for our programs, so we will always continue to be a part of the national organization. We're not only a homeless shelter but also a halfway house for women."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Ann Davidson, director of the Fort Dodge YWCA, looks out the window of one of the facility’s furnished apartments downtown.
The past year brought some staff changes to the YWCA, Davidson said, but they have proven to be changes that are beneficial to the local shelter.
"Our clinical director, Dennis Baugh, left in September. We were sorry to see him go but we were able to quickly hire a new director, David Chapin," said Davidson. "He comes to us from Clear View in Prairie City. He had some experience in the Fort Dodge area with working with CFR. We are very excited for the approach he is bringing to our organization."
Davidson said Chapin saw a need for changes that would benefit the way clients and cases are taken care of.
"One of the biggest things is he has helped us get on board with an electronic records system," she said. "That is a very good thing for us; the less paper we have to move the better it is for our clients."
"We are using the state's electronic system and processes which supplements the rest of what we do. Before there was a lot of extraneous paperwork; it is much more efficient when it is all together," said Chapin.
Chapin said the YWCA plans to implement an OWI/Drunk Driving assessment program in the coming year.
"We are looking to do a full continuum of care for treatment and even assist some male outpatient cases through other agencies," he said.
"We are pursuing the OWI program," said Davidson. "It is important when evaluating those individuals that there is education or treatment for them. We really didn't have much of a programming in place for them in the interim unless we referred them to other organizations. We know when women come here, they want to have that service."
Davidson said the YWCA is supported by the efforts of a board of directors who plan several fundraiser events throughout the year including a wine tasting event in the spring and the Silver Showcase during the holiday season.
"We have a wonderful board of directors," said Davidson. "They do our fundraisers. We are hoping this year in terms of fundraising that we can raise $30,000 or more for 2013."
"Of course as a nonprofit organization housed in a 100-year-old building you also hope for no major repairs to come up," said Davidson.
Davidson also hopes to keep occupancy up in 2013 which, in return, helps keep the cost of services affordable to the women staying at the YWCA.
"We'd like to see 85 to 90 percent occupancy," said Davidson. "That helps bring your costs into line. There are ongoing costs like utilities and the more clients you have, the more you can minimize the cost of those things."
The YWCA has always helped see its clients through their treatment, helped them gain employment and become self-supporting individuals, Davidson said.
"Whatever reason these ladies are brought here, our hope is that we can, as quickly as possible, move them on and get them the resources they need. We like to see good progress in three months for those in the homeless shelter and help them get their own place. We've always been able to help them with clothes and some household items when they are ready to move on, but now we have the facilities to help them with bigger items."
Davidson said the YWCA has a storefront on Central Avenue where many of the items are kept and where the women served are able to go and select items they may need for their own home.
"We can now keep and provide them with things like beds and couches," she said. "We finally have the ability to store those bigger items."
Overall, Davidson said she is optimistic about whatever 2013 has in store for the organization.
"We are very optimistic about the coming year,"she said. "We think it is going to be good for our clients and good for the Y."