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Summer Director's Note

Every quarter, Willis Dady sends out a newsletter with a special note from one of our Program Directors, or from a member of our Board of Directors. For this Denine Rushing, our Shelter Services Director, shared about events and activities that have taken place over the summer months.


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Hello, and Happy August!


As we enter the final weeks of summer I’d like to share a recap of what we’ve been up to at our Emergency Shelter and what we have planned for the month of August! In the month of June, we had a group of 20-plus youth from the D.C. area who for the 3rd summer in a row partnered with Central Furniture Rescue here in Cedar Rapids. After touring our facilities, they then set up tables in the parking lot of WD to pass out hot dogs, snacks, and water to clients along with individuals experiencing literal homeless. The youth group was able to provide 100 meals to the clients we serve between sheltered and unsheltered individuals. We look forward to them returning again next summer!


During the month of July, we experienced an increase in single women and families entering shelter. Willis Dady primarily serves single men, but we also have a family wing where we shelter a mix of families and women within 4 apartment size units in shelter. Each family and all single women work closely with our newly hired family case manager Kathleen (Katie). Katie provides one on one case management while focusing on housing with the families and single women. After several clients had been denied approval to different housing complexes, Katie submitted appeals where now 3 denials have been reversed. 32% of the women in our shelter during the month of July will be entering permanent housing.


Martha who is Willis Dady’s Shelter Case Manager for the single men's wing of shelter has continues to provide one on one case management for all single men staying with us. Martha works closely with each client to identify his barriers, make referrals, and empower the men to be present in their journey towards housing. Martha also works closely with Faith, our Shelter Manager, and Katie, our Shelter Therapist. Katie is contracted through Tanager Place who offers one on one therapy for clients working in any capacity with Willis Dady. Martha and Katie have created a very successful Art and Chill class where clients can enjoy a relaxing environment of soft music and art projects while exploring therapeutic practices. This weekly session has opened the door for many clients to feel more comfortable beginning therapy.


Willis Dady has also partnered with Friends of the Family Shelter, an organization located north of Waterloo, which provides shelter and support for individuals fleeing domestic violence. Willis Dady will now hold the only domestic violence bed in Linn County through this partnership, where we can shelter a male or female fleeing DV who may not be able to relocate to Friends of the Family’s shelter. We are very happy to partner with FOF and assist in providing safe shelter for those in need.


Willis Dady has partnered with the Humane Alliance for the 2nd year in a row to host their annual Pet Festival in Wellington Heights. This will be held on August 21st in the grassy park area located right next to the Willis Dady shelter. This event is open to the public and will provide sign-ups for spade and neuter appointments, yearly shots, along with free pet toys, and pet food for pets. Last year this event served over 150 pets in the Wellington Heights community.


On the same day, Willis Dady will host its 2nd annual Community Resource Fair from 12pm-4pm. This event is open to the public where we’ll offer free burgers, hot dogs, refreshments, free haircuts, children’s books, school supplies, and adult and children’s clothing. There will be many local service providers in the community such as; EIHC, ABBE Center, Dupaco Bank, ASAC, CRUSH Iowa, AmeriGroup, and many others with tables set up to share brochures and other reading materials for all in attendance. This will allow service providers to share their services and also allow Willis Dady to share all that we do within the community. I find that neighbors and community members frequent these events and tend to ask questions and learn more about our agency as well as others in attendance.


If you may be interested in volunteering or donating to any of these upcoming events please reach out to Sierra, our Volunteer Coordinator at Sierra@willisdady.org.


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