Bright new beginnings

A chance to gain what she called “life experience” led Amy DeLanoit to Arizona after receiving her degree from Buena Vista University.

But job opportunities led her back to Fort Dodge in the mid-1990s.

DeLanoit’s husband worked in the correctional field. Meanwhile, DeLanoit had five years experience working in day programming for adults with special needs.

“In 1995, Friendship Haven was starting a day program,” DeLanoit said.

Also that year, the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility was announced.

With openings in both of their fields on the horizon, DeLanoit said they decided the time was ripe to move back to the Midwest.

Thus began her career with Friendship Haven’s adult day program, which provides services to non-Friendship Haven residents, who can receive personal care and participate in activities during the day,

Now 19 years and counting into her tenure, DeLanoit has seen the program through six relocations on the Friendship Haven campus in western Fort Dodge.

“I think we have the record in terms of moves,” she said, laughing.

However, the most recent move may be the most profound.

On March 5, the program moved into the Schmoker Adult Day Services building.

The one-story structure is located west of the new Simpson Health Center – part of a flurry of construction projects on the Friendship Haven campus that began in 2012.

In April 2013, Friendship Haven was awarded a $420,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. These funds went to build the new Schmoker center.

The open-concept building was designed to be bright, with plenty of space for exercise equipment, as well as a common area with tables and chairs.

A goal of the program is to provide varied activities, DeLanoit said.

“We program a day’s worth of activities based on things people like to do throughout the day,” DeLanoit said.

Clients have individual contracts that plan the length and frequency of their participation in the program. Some clients come every day, while some may come only a few hours a week.

On a given day, there are generally 40 participants in the program, DeLanoit said.

In addition to board games, Bingo and other recreational activities, much of the center’s programming centers around learning and practicing useful skills.

These include such simple things as folding laundry, Delanoit said.

The new center features a kitchen space where program participants can learn how to bake, for example, according to DeLanoit.

The center serves breakfast and lunch – and, as is the case throughout Friendship Haven, Wednesday is Pie Day, DeLanoit said.

“The new building will really allow us to develop our own identity,” DeLanoit said. “Many of our clients feel like this is a second family.”