FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) – A former church in the Fort Dodge area is being turned into a homeless shelter for women and children in six central Iowa counties. The former St. John’s Lutheran Church in rural Webster County will become the home of the nonprofit Lotus Community Project, The Messenger reported. The nonprofit offers housing, support and resources to women and children in need.
Iowa District West, a part of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, has donated the property. The district took control of the church after it closed last year.
“We were asked that it be repurposed for a good use or have it torn down,” said the Rev. Steve Turner of Iowa District West. “We can’t think of a better way to repurpose this structure.”
Renovations costing about $105,000 will need to be completed before the shelter can open in December, said Lotus Executive Director Ashley Vaala.
The shelter will potentially have eight rooms available to provide temporary housing to women. Women will be eligible to stay in the shelter if they belong to Webster, Hamilton, Humboldt, Wright, Calhoun and Pocahontas counties, she said.
“When people come in we will have an intensive intake process,” she said. “We will look at financial security, natural supports, and health status. Maybe help apply for disability. Learn their history and coordinate a unique plan based on their structure. We will have support staff help them execute their plan.”
Lotus also plans to help people find employment or education opportunities, Vaala said.
“We need to help people secure financing or they are not going to be successful,” she said.