May 20, 1983 - Des Moines, IA


Willis Dady, 23, loses his life while attempting to save Billy Bass, 9, who is drowning in a lagoon. Bass also dies. Dady had periodically experienced homelessness during his life.


December 15, 1986 - Cedar Rapids, IA


Ken and Mary Borzillo welcome homeless men into their home during the day. The home is rented by Catholic Worker House, which also provides volunteers to assist the men. The day center is named the "Willis Dady Drop-In Center" in honor of Willis Dady.


The Drop-In Center closes six months later due to lack of funding, volunteers, and rezoning.

Willis Dady Drop-In Center

512 McKinley St., Cedar Rapids, IA


Fall 1987


James "Jim" Welborn, a Social Work student at Mt. Mercy College (now University) volunteers at Catholic Worker House for part of his field experience. Welborn, who has spent the majority of his life battling alcoholism and experiencing homelessness decides to use his field experience hours to re-open the Willis Dady Drop In Center as a Overnight Emergency Shelter.

James "Jim" Welborn

Learn more here.

December 2, 1987


After months of leading a team of passionate individuals to raise money, find volunteers, renovate the building, and rezone the property, Welborn opens the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter. The shelter initially has 17 beds for single men.

Cedar Rapids Gazette

December 2, 1987

Read more here.


November 1988

Welborn adds 8 bunkbeds to increase the shelter's capacity from 17 to 25.


November 1990

Welborn rearranges the shelter to help 6 families and 16 single men.



© 2018 Willis Dady Homeless Services

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