A door to the future

After a year of preparation, a new Fort Dodge recovery center will be opening its doors to its first residents this month.

The Gateway To Discovery home started as a vision of Cana, an outreach mission in Fort Dodge that helps people in need through mentoring, Bible studies, workshops, small concerts and worship experience.

“We had a motivational speaker at Cana who asked what are the needs of Fort Dodge,” said Carmen Clavin, program director for Gateway To Discovery. “We identified needs and discovered that a house like this was second or third on the list.”

It didn’t take long after identifying those needs for a board of directors to be formed and support to start coming in.

“It took off right away,” said Clavin. “When we identified the needs, people became really passionate about it. There has really been a lot of action to help make everything happen.”

To date, supporters of Gateway To Discovery have helped raise around $135,000. With those funds, the Gateway Board has been able to purchase a house to become the center’s new home, and hire Clavin as program director.

Chris Helton, vice president of the Gateway board, said the donations have come from a variety of sources.

“About 70 percent of our donations have come from individuals and another 25 percent from churches,” said Helton. “It’s been amazing the amount of support we have gotten beyond the Fort Dodge community.”

The Gateway To Discovery program is a faith-based, two-year program for women 18 and older which will focus on recovery and overcoming the obstacles of addiction, homelessness and other life challenges. It is based on programs offered at Magdalene, a residential program based in Nashville, Tenn.

“We attended a workshop to see their process,” said Clavin. “The Magdalene House has a 72 percent success rate and we wanted to model after a program that has been very successful. We plan to take the program and adjust it to Fort Dodge and the resources available here.”

Women served will participate in a structured program that includes counseling, volunteering, art therapy, meditation and prayer in a homelike environment. Three women will be living in the home when it opens Oct. 21. Clavin hopes to average up to five women in the home at first, with the capacity to eventually serve 12.

“For the first six months or year we will want to get a sense of cost with up to five women and that will tie in with our fundraising,” said Clavin.

Clavin said the two-year program is designed to offer continued support that other programs may not.

“Sometimes a short period in a recovery center is not always enough,” she said. “We hope we can be here to help physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

Clavin said there are already several potential clients from the Fort Dodge area and beyond.

“We have several potential clients,” she said. “All they have to do is call us two times a week to show their interest.”

Clients may also be referred to Gateway To Discovery through other organizations such as Community & Family Resources.

“Referrals don’t have to come from other programs,” said Clavin. “But we have spoken with places like CFR and the YWCA.”

As the center prepares to open, there are still needs for basic items such as furniture, food and a vehicle.

‘We are in need of a van for transportation,” said Helton. “Transportation will be needed to get clients to school, doctor appointments, interviews . They won’t have their own vehicles at first, they will have to meet certain requirements to show that they can be self-supporting.”

Gateway To Discovery will be assisted by the Food Bank of Iowa, but will be in need of food donations for the first few months.

“We will work with the Food Bank,” said Clavin. “But they need to see that we are up and working for two months before they will assist.”

Donations of needed supplies or money can be made by contacting Clavin at 302-8162.

“We are not going to seek or accept any government help because we are a faith-based program,” said Helton.

For more information on Gateway to Discovery, visit its website at or its Facebook page at