Posted on 10/21/2014 at 09:21 AM by YMCA of Greater Des Moines
The slogan for the first homecoming event for the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus speaks to the group’s desire for its residents more than the festivities planned: “Because everyone deserves a place to come home to.”
The YMCA housing program, which offers single-unit efficiency apartments for 140 adults, moved from its former spot in the Riverfront YMCA Tower three years ago to its current location on Southwest Ninth Street. Within three months, the low-income housing campus was full of adults. There currently is a waiting list of 74 people.
“That speaks volumes to the need for this type of affordable housing in central Iowa,” said Emily Osweiler, executive director of the campus. “The people who live here have different types of barriers to housing, whether it’s a mental health issue or a substance abuse problem or whatever it may be, but the common thread is that this is their home.”
Saturday’s festive homecoming fundraiser celebrates each resident having a place to call home, she said. “We really hope this becomes an annual event, a tradition for us. We believe everyone deserves a home.”
The family-friendly event at Water Works Park will include free food, an adult flag football tournament, and games and activities for children.
“We really hope people come out to watch the football tournament, eat some donated chili from nine area restaurants, let the kids play on the inflatables and have some fun,” Osweiler said. “Be sure to bring a blanket, lawn chairs — and the sunshine.”
There will be tailgating games, a performance by the Isiserettes, activities and giveaways from the Iowa Barnstormers, face painting for the kids, a giant slide and more. Volunteers will help run the event.
“We could use up to 50 additional volunteers to help with setting up, tearing down, serving chili, supervising the activities, refereeing and scorekeeping during the games, then registering the teams the day of the tournament,” Osweiler said last week. “So whether you want to help out or just come to have fun, we welcome you.”
Supportive Housing Campus board member Sheila Mahan said the board and YMCA supporters are thrilled with how the event’s planning has unfolded and they hope to see the homecoming grow each year.
“We really want to get the whole community involved,” Mahan said. “As a nonprofit, not everyone in town knows who we are, where we are or what we do, so we’re trying to get the word out about us and how they also can help.”
Proceeds from this first fundraiser will help fill a deficit in the nonprofit housing campus’ operating budget, Osweiler said.
This branch of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines offers subsidized housing, but it also provides a variety of services ranging from case management to a clothes closet and food pantry.
“We are three years in and have found that we have a $140,000 gap per year,” Osweiler said. “While the YMCA of Greater Des Moines has an annual campaign, and we are a part of that — plus we have grants and private donations to help with the housing — we realize that we need to fundraise to help support our mission.”
So far, the effort has brought in $43,000.
One of the main focuses of the YMCA in general is social responsibility. Osweiler said providing housing enables the Supportive Housing Campus program to help keep people off the streets.
“We hope to provide them with a better life, one filled with hope, dignity and support,” she said. “Our goal is to help people get into permanent housing, whether that’s here with support or elsewhere after using us as a stepping stone.
“As long as they are living somewhere safe, that’s what is important.”
YMCA Supportive Housing Campus will host its first homecoming celebration on Saturday. The public is invited to the free activities.
DETAILS: Begins at 10 a.m. at Water Works Park.
ACTIVITIES: Adult flag football tournament (room for one more team as of last week), tailgating activities (no alcohol allowed), children’s face painting, inflatables and free chili.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED: To help at the event or sign up for the flag football tournament, email