Alexandra was raised in Chicago. She fled foster care to become homeless 16 and lived on friends’ couches. After the birth of her children, Alexxia and Adonis, she moved to Des Moines. Hawthorn Hill’s New Directions Shelter housed her and facilitated quality child care. Their Home Connection permanent supportive housing program placed the McGee family. Her position with The Principal Financial Group means she no longer receives state assistance. She plans to return to college and mentor at-risk youth.
Emerging Leader Award
Charles grew up around Des Moines and graduated from Tech High in 1966. He enlisted in the military, served as a paratrooper and, with the G.I. Bill, settled in North Hollywood here he enrolled in photography school. Sadly, the program closed and Charles’ experienced homelessness several times over the decades. Charles returned to Iowa and found aid at CISS, Bethel, Door of Faith, and Primary Health Care. For the last few years Charles has volunteered at Iowa Homeless Youth Centers, and is now a Facility Manager for the Connections Café.
After a tumultuous childhood in California John enlisted in the Navy at 21 and served 4 years of active duty. Struggling with mental and physical ailments, he self medicated with substances. In 2007, John moved to Iowa to be closer to his three children and began the road to recovery. John completed programs at the 180 Degree and received a BA in Psychology from Drake University. He interned with Powell CDC and Primary Health Care. Now, John is stably housed and volunteers at the 180 Degree House as a mentor. He is a PRN Counselor at Powell CDC and a Case Manager at Primary Health Care.
New Iowan Award
Mikiel came to Iowa in 2005 after losing everything to Hurricane Katrina. A noted jazz musician in New Orleans, Mikiel found himself homeless and without a license. After spending six days in the Super Dome, he was bussed to Dallas, only to be greeted by Hurricane Rita. After relocating to several other cities, Mikiel chose Des Moines, where he found support from local human service agencies. Mikiel is fully-employed at the Guitar Center and plays music professionally.
In November 2010, Nicole and her daughter, Ayla, entered IHYC's transitional housing. Nicole gained employment and participated in parenting and life skills classes. While there she decided to become a dental assistant. In July 2011, Nicole and Ayla moved into an apartment with savings from IHYC savings program. In May of 2012, with IHYC's Post-Secondary Education Retention program, Nicole enrolled at DMACC to become a Dental Assistant. Nicole has earned a place on the Dean's List and President's List.
After work-related injuries led to unemployment, David became homeless and lived in shelters for years. With church support David lived in a hotel for three years then found permanent public housing in July 2012. A Family Service Coordinator helped David work toward self-sufficiency. David completed money management courses and is employed by his church. He works with ISED and plans to enroll in their small business course.