Gateway to new life

Since its opening on Oct. 21, the Gateway to Discovery home in Fort Dodge has continued to receive an outpouring of support from the local community.

“Everything went smoothly for our opening,” said Carmen Clavin, program director for Gateway to Discovery. “Everything came together and happened just in time with a lot of prayer and faith.”

Since the doors of the Gateway home opened, five women have made it their home for the next two years as they work to recover from addiction, homelessness and other struggles.

Clavin hopes the home will eventually be able to house more women.

“As the program evolves and we learn what needs we can meet and get experience financially, we will gradually increase our numbers,” said Clavin. “We have approval to house up to 12.”

An outpouring of support from Fort Dodge and the surrounding community has helped the young program thrive, Chris Helton, Gateway to Discovery board president, said.

“We have had hundreds upon hundreds of people, service organizations and trusts wanting to help us out,” Helton said.

Donations of everything from food and personal care items to a van from a local car dealership have been coming in almost daily, Helton said.

“I can come into my office every day and there might be donations or I will have messages from people wanting to know what they can do to help us,” he said.

Clavin said seeing the support has been part of the healing and recovery process for the women in the home.

“Our women are seeing that support,” she said. “They are going from their personal challenges to seeing an outpouring of love. They are learning to trust and give back. It has had a huge ripple effect, even healing just one woman, the community hears about it and wants to help. I’ve been amazed at just how much the community stands behind our mission.”

The women of the Gateway home spend time together daily sharing their stories and working together to support each other on the road to recovery.

“We want to empower these women.,” said Clavin. “They come together and share their stories, they are building relationships among each other and are learning to build relationships in the community by getting involved.”

Clavin said the women have been helping out in the community by volunteering with The Salvation Army and other service organizations.

“It teaches them that they can heal from their past and become great members of our society” she said. “These ladies are taking pride in their selves, their appearance and the impact they are having on the community.”

Gateway staff and board members have also given presentations to several groups in the Fort Dodge area and at Iowa Central Community College to help spread the word of Gateway to Discovery’s mission.

“We are still getting donations from Iowa Central,” said Helton. “They are seeing that they do have a support system and people really do care about them.”

Board member Crystal Balm said she has benefited from knowing the women.

“One thing I like about helping out is I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life, but they’ve made a greater difference in my own life,” said Balm. “Seeing the daily breakthroughs is what it is all about.”

Clavin said the growth she has seen in each woman since their arrival has been rewarding.

“Sometimes they just have to see the growth in others before you can see it in yourself,” she said. “I see the support among these women. One lady just recently shared her experience and it made it real for her. This makes them realize they are human, it’s not just them, and that the struggles like they have had with addiction are everywhere.”