Veteran Award Nominated by Tina Clark, Veteran Affairs Central Iowa Health Systems
At 51 Wesley was referred to VA through CISS, after living in a motel for 5 months. He was laid off from his construction job, facing depression and addiction. At VA Domiciliary he got help for substance use and employment assistance. He worked with HUD-VASH, a joint program of VA and HUD. Finding housing was a victory due to past addiction and credit issues. In November 2014, with help from Primary Health Care, he moved into his own apartment, while VA employment specialist through the Compensated Work Therapy Program helped him secure a position at Menard’s. He has become a shift lead, obtained a forklift operator license, and enrolled in a management class. Wes now has 17 months of sobriety and assists others to reframe their lives, seek employment and strive for sobriety.
Family Award Nominated by Cynthia Latcham, Anawim Housing
Prior to entering Shelter Plus Care permanent supportive housing in 2008 Charity was homeless facing mental illness and substance abuse. Her mother had custody of her son. In 2013 Charity enrolled at DMACC and sought treatment to stabilize her mental health. In January 2016 she will cross enroll at Grand View University to study social work. Charity has emerged as a leader. At DMACC she is the president of the Human Service Club and member of the Student Activity Council. She organizes collections for IHYS and JOPPA Outreach. Her 4th year at Reggie’s Sleep Out she recruited the Human Service Club to take part. Charity left Anawim in July and pays her full rent. She has regained custody of her son and is now a loving engaged mother.
Hafissa “Jojo” Ihogoza
Compelling Life Story Award Nominated by Anna Forrester, Iowa Homeless Youth Centers-Aftercare
Jojo overcame homelessness, living as a refugee, family violence, abuse and neglect. In 2013 Jojo exited foster care into homelessness, mental health struggles and unemployment. She attended college but had to drop out. In jail, she hit rock bottom. With support from the Aftercare Program, Jojo started mental health services, learned positive coping skills, secured employment and moved into her first apartment. She started college again. Jojo fell back into homelessness in early 2015, but continued with school and maintained with her improved coping skills got back to stability. Now JoJo has her own apartment, attends DMACC full time, and will graduate soon with an associate's degree in business. She hopes start a business. Jojo has learned healthy coping skills for life's hardships.
Youth Award Nominated by Phil Werner, Iowa Homeless Youth Centers-Street Outreach
In 2012, 18 years old, homeless and alternating between shelter and the streets, Jonat came to Outreach. He needed a safe place, services and advocacy. The Outreach Center helped Jonat complete 10th grade. He was accepted into the Buchanan House, but he wasn’t ready for the program and was asked to leave. He moved to Chicago and did well for a time, but when challenges arose he returned to Des Moines. He spent nights at shelter and days at Outreach, then was readmitted to Buchanan House, where he been more successful in the program. Jonat enrolled in the DMACC HiSET program and has found work at Burger King, volunteered at the Iowa State Fair parade and Reggie’s Sleepout. Jonat has become a role model for other youth.
Single Adult Award Nominated by Morgan Steinkamp, YMCA Supportive Campus
Shawn struggled all his life to communicate. His family had financially problems and moved frequently. As a child Shawn had spinal meningitis. He was diagnosed with hearing impairment at 5 and hit by a car at 7. These affected employment and relationships and led to frequent homelessness. With support from YMCA Shelter Plus Care at the Supportive Housing Campus, using resources at Eyerly Ball, Goodwill and the Evelyn K. Davis Center, and job coaching Shawn has overcome many obstacles. He is now paying his full rent and has been at his dream job as an Audio Visual Installer at Sight and Sound Innovations for a year, he has learned to cook and has maintained stable housing for 2 years. Shawn has become more independent, an effective communicator and maintains his finances.