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MOST HOPEFUL NEWS OF 2018: Lotus rises

Shelter for homeless women, children begins

-Messenger file photo by Chad Thompson
Ashley Vaala, of Fort Dodge, poses north of downtown Fort Dodge. Once homeless, she founded Lotus to help others who have no place to live.

Lotus Community Project, a homeless shelter for women and their children, is set to open for clients on Jan. 21.

Plans for the shelter were revealed early in 2018 by its executive director, Ashley Vaala, of Fort Dodge.

Vaala experienced homelessness and drug addiction herself in previous years. She shared her story with The Messenger, which was published in April of 2018.

Ready to start anew and tackle a problem in the Fort Dodge area, Vaala decided she wanted to help others by opening a homeless shelter called Lotus Community Project.

Lotus, a 501(c)3 organization, differs from other services in the area. The Beacon of Hope Men’s shelter does not accept women and some women do not fit the criteria for the Domestic/ Sexual Assault Outreach Center shelter.

Vaala said Lotus would serve as a catch-all for women and children who otherwise would have limited options.

Lotus is located in the former St. John’s Lutheran Church along 170th Street in rural Webster County.

The shelter will serve a six-county area: Webster, Hamilton, Humboldt, Wright, Calhoun and Pocahontas.

“It’s the community coming together as a group and working to make a difference,” Vaala said in a recently published story.

The public is welcome to an open house at Lotus on Jan. 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 2980 170th St., Vincent.

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