Heroes for the Homeless

Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) will host the “Heroes for Homeless” awards dinner April 24 to honor Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines City Councilman Chris Coleman and community volunteer Steve Smith. They’ll be recognized for their contributions to secure funding and construct CISS’ new 42,000-square-foot shelter, which opened last September. The new shelter includes an on-site health clinic, a food pantry, a clothing closet and a classroom along with an expanded emergency shelter, transitional housing for veterans, and efficiency apartments.

“I’m just awed at what the community has pulled together to raise the funds and construct a facility like that,” says Smith, a construction engineer who helped CISS Executive Director Tony Timm and his team navigate building processes. Smith first learned of the project after volunteering to serve meals through Lutheran Church of Hope.

Coleman says one of the reasons he sought re-election to the City Council was to address homelessness, especially as early efforts to find a suitable location for the new shelter kept hitting roadblocks. He says he wanted to use his position “to change the community for people who were vulnerable.” To that end, he started the Homelessness Coordinating Council.

Coleman says the council, which includes City Council members, Polk County Board of Supervisors members, and human services leaders and funders, is still active. The group is now working to address gaps in service for homeless people and bring together resources that can help people move toward transitional housing and private low-income housing. The expansion of CISS living options puts that goal on track.  “It gives hope to all residents that they can get to a better place,” Coleman says.

Principal Financial Group Inc. will be recognized for providing financial support for CISS’ new facility as well as for case management services.

The “Heroes for Homeless” dinner will be 6 p.m. at The Temple for Performing Arts. Tickets are $150 or $100 for people under age 40, with discounts for tables, and can be purchased through centraliowashelter.org.

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