Willis Dady Emergency Shelter is dedicated to providing immediate shelter to homeless single men and families in a safe, clean and caring atmosphere that promotes progress toward ending the cycle of homelessness.
What We Do:
Willis Dady Emergency Shelter (WDES) has served over 11,000 homeless single men and families since opening in 1987. We provide over 9,000 nights of shelter per year, or roughly 20 - 25% of nights of shelter provided in Linn County. Willis Dady Emergency Shelter serves nearly 400 single men and families living or relocating to Cedar Rapids and/or Linn County each year. We provide all services, free of charge, to stabilize residents and facilitate progress towards change.
- In 1987, the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter began as a day program for homeless men. It was started by Jim Welborn, who himself spent 25 years on the streets struggling with alcohol addiction. He sought help and became sober, enabling him to enroll in the Mount Mercy College, where he earned a B.A. in social work. The Willis Dady Emergency Shelter began as his senior project.
- The Willis Dady Emergency Shelter was named after a young man, Willis Dady, who jumped in the Des Moines River to save a drowning boy. Both the boy and Willis Dady lost their lives. The Founders were incredibly inspired by his altruistic act, and decided that his name and act of kindness would live on through the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter.
- In 1989, the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter began taking homeless families as the community saw a significant increase in the number of families unable to meet basic needs.
- In 1991, Willis Dady Emergency Shelter purchased its current location at 1247 4th Avenue SE and became a United Way Partner Agency.
- Willis Dady Emergency Shelter is debt free and currently operates on an annual budget of approximately $250,000.
Who we serve:
A Profile of Our 2009 Clients, which included 407 individuals accounting for 8,306 person nights: