Lotus open house is Sunday

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Director Ashley Vaala, at left, along with board member Janice Link, meet at the Lotus women’s shelter after some of the major work was completed. Partitions are now in place to create seven cubicles with beds and cribs. The space can be reconfigured as needs change.

A year since plans were announced, the Lotus Community Project’s homeless shelter for women is ready for its grand opening.

The former rural church located south of Vincent will welcome visitors for tours from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, at 2980 170th Street, Vincent.

“Isn’t this amazing?” said Director Ashley Vaala. “The transformation has been unbelievable.”

A lot of people have pitched in making this a community project, Vaala said.

The shelter provides a place for women and their children who need a place to stay. The church’s sanctuary has been transformed into a living space, split up into cubicles using donated partitions.

-Messenger photo illustration by Joe Sutter
Lotus Project Director Ashley Vaala looks into one of the cubicles set up for a mother with children at the Lotus women’s shelter this week, in this image made from multiple photos. The shelter will begin taking women in on Sunday.

Larger “rooms” hold cribs and kids’ beds along the main bed, while others are configured for singles.

“I love how each room has its own stained glass window,” said Vaala.

The basement holds a dining area, a rudimentary kitchen, a play area and soon will hopefully have a computer area for the women.

“A college tutor from Iowa Central said she would come out and teach computers,” said Lotus board member Janice Link. “She’ll teach them how to submit a resume online, and how to act at a job interview.”

“The women will be able to be here applying for jobs while the kids are playing,” Vaala said.

Fort Dodge Family Credit Union held a fundraiser to raise $1,100, Vaala said, and came down to set up the kids area themselves.

Wooden toy trucks were made for the shelter by a man in Humboldt.

There’s still work to be done. The shelter needs partitions for the bathroom — which aren’t cheap, Vaala said. They also hope to get a deep freeze somehow.

“Prairie Lakes Church is going to be getting groups of people together to prepare us a bunch of crock pot meals. Then we’re going to freeze them because we don’t have a stove,” she said.

“To get a stove or oven, we would have to have the hood and the fire suppression system. Brand new, those items are about $10,000 and you didn’t even buy a stove yet. Even after we have that, there are certain rules with kitchens.”

There’s a lot of changes still in the works. But for now, crews are wrapping up installation of security systems, a fire alarm system, and a camera system.

“It’s an important project, and all of us that are involved believe in it,” Link said. “If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing.”


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