287458167_10159719593772795_6023605475113479539_n.jpgIn looking back over the number of individuals Waypoint served last fiscal year, I feel it’s time to look at what the year has meant for us as a whole. At first, I thought it was a year of transitions, or perhaps, conclusions. We are out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this last fiscal year was an almost surreal experience seeing staff and community members without masks and reduced concern about COVID-19 exposure. Most staff returned to work in the office, however, one positive change created by the pandemic that’s been maintained is the ability for work flexibility when needed.

In settling back into being around each other, our outreach and fundraising events were able to return to fully in-person. Our Tribute to Women of Achievement and Celebrate Waypoint! events succeeded in their goals. These events served as powerful refreshers to our supporters and new staff about the work Waypoint does in the community. We also had a successful Waypoint Wonderland, where our volunteers and clients were able to participate fully in-person and brighten the holidays of more than 300 children from families who have been supported by Waypoint’s services.

Our Housing Program has continued to develop as a Coordinated Entry hub. Coordinated Entry is a statewide homeless service system that ensures all people experiencing housing instability can quickly have their needs assessed and be connected to the most appropriate housing intervention resource in their community. In our local region, our Coordinated Entry Program has also grown to stay efficiently blended with our Eviction Prevention Services, Diversion Services, Re-Housing Services, and coordinated shelter referrals. These services work to support households who are at risk of entering the homeless service system by providing referrals to community resources, case management, and housing search assistance. This growth in services, especially for our Coordinated Entry, Eviction Prevention, and Diversion Services, is something that was prioritized to meet community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those needs are staying consistent, which highlights the importance of our leadership in coordinating critical services in our community.

This is also something seen in our transition back into outreach efforts. Our Housing Services staff offers outreach hours at resource fairs and consistent attendance at IowaWORKS, RISE, Olivet Mission, Linn County’s courthouse, and other key stakeholders for connecting households in need to what’s available. Our Coordinated Entry staff was also a part of reopening our lobby as a resource community members can visit for in-person services. These services can be for housing, as well as for our Domestic Violence Victim Services Program and Survivors’ Program. Both Victim Services programs have also had staff transition to being back in the office for walk-in questions in our critical services lobby, while maintaining 24/7 resource and support lines.  

In addition to that, our Domestic Violence Advocates have been able to settle back into some outreach roles that really focus on empowering victims and survivors of domestic violence. Some of this includes support groups facilitated outside of our agency spaces and with community partners such as the Heart of Iowa and holding our monthly support group, Finding Your Voice. Similarly, a lot of our Survivors’ Program growth has been in strengthening our connections to local resources and responders to violence in our community for the past year. A big part of that was emphasizing that the program serves survivors of violent felony crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, and attempted murder. This is in addition to supporting individuals who have lost a loved one to homicide.  

The chart below shows how our numbers served have grown over the past two fiscal years: 

Program Name People served in FY22 People served in FY23
Coordinated Entry 13,039 13,790
Eviction Prevention 837 2,654
Rapid Re-Housing  315 317
Domestic Violence  1,989 2,254
Survivors’ Program 465 521

This growth in households served shows that, though things are changing around us, our programs continue to pivot to meet growing community needs. Facing housing instability, navigating or fleeing an abusive relationship, and healing from a loss due to violence are experiences that no one in our community should have to face, especially not alone. Every day, we hear people express that they are simply stuck, and we face uncomfortable questions about where they should go and how to resolve their difficult challenges – some of which there are rarely clear solutions to. Waypoint provides the compassion needed to empower these community members to move forward, to know they are not alone, and to identify resources and solutions between themselves and community supports that, bit by bit, help them keep moving forward.

Of course, this impact is due to the whole from the sum of our parts. Waypoint is here providing our services thanks to our partnerships. From resources that coordinate services with us to the businesses and sponsors that help fund us, in combination with the staff and volunteers advancing our mission, we remain grateful and strong, persevering with those we serve. In looking at the data and the ethos of our impact, we are thankful for all our supporters. Thank you! We also remain consistent in our call for support in our next fiscal year. Whether it’s in donations to our agency throughout the year, volunteering a few free hours a month, or attending and connecting your network with our events, we remain grateful to our supporters and committed to providing the hope needed in moving forward. 

Thoughts by…
Jade Riley
Waypoint Volunteer & Community Outreach Coordinator

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