A Century of Service

Choir, woodworking, Special Olympics. To the staff at Mosaic, it seems as if Homer has a new hobby every week. The Des Moines man is one of the 180 individuals with intellectual disabilities Mosaic serves through 24-hour residential living, intermittent support and employment opportunities. During the 40 years before he arrived at Mosaic, Homer lived in an institution. In the four years he’s benefited from Mosaic’s programming, Homer has thrived.

“Our mission goes way beyond making sure that (the individuals we serve) are healthy and have a roof over their head,” says Laura Holtman, Mosaic’s resource development manager. “We want to make sure they get to do the things they want to do. Every time you talk to Homer, he has a new interest. There’s no limit to what he’s doing.”

This year, Mosaic is celebrating its 100th anniversary and its 30th in Des Moines. “A century ago, if there was a child born with an intellectual disability, they would be placed in a state institution and segregated from the community,” says Carol Mau, CEO of Mosaic in Des Moines. “That was the norm.”

In 1913, when the predecessor to the faith-based organization was formed in Nebraska, state institutions were in their heyday, and people with intellectual disabilities had limited options. The Lutheran pastors and community members who founded the group homes that laid the groundwork for Mosaic wanted to create an alternative to these institutional settings and help those with intellectual disabilities become a part of the community.

Advocacy and inclusion remain a major part of Mosaic’s mission. The Des Moines group serves nearly 200 individuals aged 16-89 in group homes, apartments or host home facilities. The agency has some 170 people on its waiting list.

Mosaic will celebrate  its anniversary 4-6 p.m.  June 2 at the Elwell Center on the Iowa State Fairgrounds. The event will feature community partner booths showcasing places where Mosaic residents volunteer and  exhibits featuring residents’ art.

Mosiac, which receives most of its funding through Medicaid, also engages volunteers to help with its  mission. Groups can deep-clean group homes, do yard work or coordinate a van wash for Mosaic’s 40 site vehicles. Groups also host Saturday morning bingo sessions and ladies nights. Individuals typically serve  as companion volunteers and visit with Mosaic residents on a one- to-one basis.  For more information, visit mosaicinfo.org

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