How It Began
Several recovering friends who did not have a safe living environment asked if they could move in to live and assist with the remodeling. Others followed, and soon there were eight people in early recovery living in the house, with more hoping for an opportunity to move in.
By 1989 it became apparent that this venture was filling a significant need in the community for homeless people and in the early stages of recovery. The original investor and several volunteers decided to create a program to address this previously unmet community need. This group formed “The Safe Place Foundation,” an Iowa non-profit corporation in 1989, and obtained tax-exempt status in 1990.
The original Safe Place Foundation property was sold to Mercy Medical Center, and in 1992 we moved to our present location, 527 6th Ave. S.E. The new facility had rooms for 14 residents (now 29), and The Safe Place Foundation had become a permanent member of the family of helping agencies in Eastern Iowa.
In 2004, strategic planning for expansion began, and so we launched a capital campaign. In 2004, the funds from the campaign allowed us to purchase the “red house” next door (523 6th Ave. S.E.). Remodeling ensued, and in 2009, ten (now 11) additional beds were added.
From 2012 through 2015, Safe Place Foundation made six beds available for use by the Community Overnight Overflow Shelter. In 2015, we hired a consultant to lead us in strategic planning. First, we removed the shelter beds, and on July 1, 2016, we began a new phase program.
New Programs Begin
New residents enter Phase I and go through an intensive two-week program involving 12 Step immersion and life skills development. Residents complete assignments from 12 Step literature and are introduced to the local recovery community through meetings and events. They obtain a sponsor and begin to work the 12 Steps.
In addition to recovery, this phase is also life skill-driven. Residents learn how to do basic household chores, grocery shop, plan and cook meals, and are provided instruction on budgeting, health and wellness, resume writing, and interview preparation. We utilize existing community agencies assist, such as Iowa Works. Additional training is held in-house by staff and/or volunteers.
In Phase II, residents continue to practice Phase I teachings and begin job seeking, gain employment, budget income, and remain active in their personal recovery programs. Residents must check in with staff regularly to review their progress with recovery, budgeting, and house duties. Phase II clients also facilitate peer support meetings for Phase I clients, addressing issues, concerns, and solutions to daily living.
Filling Needs in The Community
The Safe Place Foundation has been assisting homeless or near homeless adult males in addressing their substance abuse issues for over 30 years. We currently have 40 beds available to assist in returning recovered men to family and community.