YWCA asks Steve King for his support

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, visited the Fort Dodge YWCA Friday to hear the concerns of its staff and directors.

Clarice Thompson, YWCA marketing director, told King the nonprofit shelter is trying to secure funds for something badly needed in the community.

“We are working on a daycare for children,” she said. “Not just for the children here at the Y, but 24 hours for everyone here in Fort Dodge and the surrounding area. A lot of industry is here. They need a daycare.”

She added, “We really need your help in helping us.”

David Chapin, YWCA executive director, said all that is needed is the initial $200,000 investment to make the facility they’ve chosen licensure compatible.

“Children are our most precious resource,” King said. “Anybody that runs a company and looks at their personnel knows that.”

The YWCA is currently full, serving 34 women and 26 children. The shelter also operates an outpatient center for men and women.

King asked what percentage of the shelter’s clients are substance abusers.

Thompson said, on average, 85 percent.

“It’s phenomenal watching people walk in. They’re broken, they’re hurt. They’re misdirected. All of those things,” Susie Drew, YWCA clinical director, said. “Just watching them grow and conquer the hurdles that used to tear them down is why we do it.”

Among people’s misconceptions about the YWCA and its clients, Thompson said, is that women choose to be drug addicts.

“Yes, you start. But it’s very difficult to stop, so you need support and you need those individuals behind you, encouraging you,” she said.

King said he pays “a fair amount of attention to the drug trade that’s going on” both in the United States and globally. He then spoke about how he is “constantly trying to squeeze information” out of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

“I can get them to take the position that between 80 and 90 percent of the illegal drugs consumed in America come from or through Mexico. The Mexicans will say mostly through and not from. Well, I don’t know,” he said. “The other 10 to 15 percent comes up the other side, through the Caribbean through places like Haiti.”

He added, “This is the world that we’re in and it presses in on us, and you’re here doing all you can for the people you have.”

Thompson again said that the shelter needed King’s support.

“I’ll have to take a look at it,” King said. “I’m not hesitant about this at all. I just want to make sure I have a feel for the whole picture, and we’ll probably look into it more deeply after we meet here today.”

King then asked about the shelter’s funding streams. Chapin explained many of their clients receive Title-XIX funds and the shelter receives grants.

Thompson said the shelter also receives outside donations.

“Because of the growth, it’s not enough. We’re in the black barely,” she said. “Because of the growth, it’s just overwhelming.”

King told the story of how he and his wife, Marilyn King, when their three sons were little, couldn’t afford preschool. And so, his wife opened two preschools, one in Kiron and one in Odebolt.

“She did two days a week in one, two days a week in the other, and our kids went with her,” he said. “So we didn’t have to pay. Well, I guess, I don’t know if we paid or not, but it came back in the same pot.”

He added, “I appreciate how hard it is, but I also appreciate that you can generate a tight, well-managed cash flow.”

Afterward, King was given a tour of a shelter. He then thanked the staff and directors for all their efforts.