New Opportunities — known officially as the New Opportunities Dallas County Family Development Center — will soon leave the space it has leased for a decade at Crossroads Church north of Perry and relocate to a commercial storefront on Second Street in downtown Perry.
Chad Jensen, New Opportunities CEO, said the new lease details have yet to be finalized, but he expects to start operating out of the downtown Perry offices Jan. 1, 2018.
“We’re working on it,” Jensen said Friday. “We don’t have a lease yet, but it’s very close.”
The new New Opportunities home will be at 1212 Second St. in property owned by DuWayne and Kimberly Dalen of Perry. The south half of the commercial space is occupied by the Freedom for Youth after-school center, and now New Opportunities is expected to fill the north half.
New Opportunities offers a wide variety of programs, including Head Start and Early Head Start, addiction prevention and treatment and other health services, heating and weatherization services and many others. Many of their clients are elderly, and virtually all are low-income residents of Dallas County.
One service no longer provided by New Opportunities is the federally funded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for children up to the age of 5, as well as for women who are pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding and meet eligibility guidelines. WIC provides food assistance, nutrition education and referrals for family-related services.
New Opportunities administered the Dallas County WIC for several years, but Broadlawns Medical Center was recently awarded the WIC contract and began administering the program in Dallas County this month.
“It’s a competitive year this year,” said Ann Cochran, health navigation coordinator with the Dallas County Public Health Nursing Service, “and New Opportunities did not get the contract for WIC for Dallas County, and instead Broadlawns got it, which we see as a plus because for many, many women who live in the eastern part of our county, the Polk County-Dallas County line is very fluid. Now they’re going to have a little more flexibility. If it’s more convenient for them to go to the West Des Moines WIC in Polk County, that’s perfectly okay even though they live on the Dallas County side of the line.”
Cochran said Broadlawns has also added several new WIC locations, such as in Dallas Center and Redfield, and relocated some clinics to make the services more accessible, as in the move from Crossroads Church to the Dallas County Hospital and the relocation of the Adel WIC clinic from the Lutheran Church to the offices of the Dallas County Public Health Nursing Services, which offers an immunization clinic coinciding with its WIC schedule.
“We’re excited,” Cochran said Tuesday. “When you think of the hospital’s neighborhood, think of how many apartment buildings there are within walking distance of that hospital that women can get there more easily. And when they went to Crossroads Church, it’s a mile out of town, and there’s no sidewalk. If you’re pregnant, and you have a child in a stroller, and it’s January, it’s not a pretty thing to be trying to get up to Crossroads Church. But if they were at the hospital, there’s sidewalks that have been shovelled, and you can get there.”
The Dallas County WIC Clinic is open one day a week at the Dallas County Hospital at 610 10th St. in Perry. The following are the clinic hours:
First Wednesday of the month from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Second Monday of the month from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Third Friday of the month from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Fourth Monday of the month from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
As a side effect of the New Opportunities relocation, the Perry Food Pantry now finds itself with food but no shelter and is “looking for housing options,” according to a food pantry spokesperson.
While the Perry Food Pantry operated out of the New Opportunities offices and was staffed by New Opportunities workers, it was never a New Opportunities program. The Perry Food Pantry is a separate organization with its own board of directors, a number of whom also sit on the board of the Perry Ministerial Association.
Once the Perry Food Pantry finds new quarters, New Opportunities will continue to coordinate with it, giving clients vouchers to access the pantry.
For more information about Iowa WIC Dallas County or to determine eligibility for WIC services, call 515-282-5800.
For more information about New Opportunities, call 515-465-5995.
For more information about the Perry Food Pantry, call 515-570-2975.