House of Mercy to Expand

Denis Frischmeyer and Rebecca Peterson

Writer: Missy Keenan
Photographer: Duane Tinkey

Two years ago, Jodi was at rock bottom. To protect her privacy, we aren’t sharing her full name. But at age 29 she was addicted to methamphetamines, mired in an abusive relationship, unemployed and homeless—and the Department of Human Services had removed her daughters from her care. 

Then she found House of Mercy. Jodi and her children moved into the residential facility for women struggling with chemical dependency. The family lived there for 14 months while Jodi was treated for her addiction. She also received job-placement training, financial education and other social services. 

After they left, Jodi and her daughters continued outpatient counseling from House of Mercy for several months. Today, she is employed in a managerial position and lives with her girls in their own apartment.  

House of Mercy is one of just a handful of programs that allow mothers and their children to live together in a facility where the mothers can receive chemical-dependency treatment, says Rebecca Peterson, House of Mercy’s director. After they leave, House of Mercy provides counseling to the women and their families for as long as they need help.

“It takes a village to rally around an individual like Jodi,” Peterson says. “What’s nice about House of Mercy is that clients can leave and come back to a safety net of support.”

In addition to providing chemical-dependency care and housing for women and their children, House of Mercy provides outpatient mental-health and chemical-dependency services for about 817 men, women and children per year. 

But the facility is short on both space and staff. People calling for help are often placed on a waiting list or referred to another provider. To better serve the demand for counseling services, House of Mercy has launched a $600,000 fundraising campaign to create a new Community Mental Health Center that will more than double the facility’s outpatient reach to about 2,000 people per year. 

The Community Mental Health Center, set to open in the fall of 2020, will occupy about 4,000 square feet in the lower level of House of Mercy, in space that previously housed a daycare center.

The center will have seven therapists with private offices and a group-therapy room, with an entrance separate from the residential facility. The extra space will also allow House of Mercy to provide new services such as group therapy, play therapy and parenting classes.

Lack of access to mental health care is a significant issue in Iowa, and the new mental health center will help address the problem, says Denis Frischmeyer, who heads the House of Mercy board and is a member of the Mercy Foundation board.

“Making mental health care more easily available is a hot topic in the state and a priority for the whole Mercy system,” Frischmeyer says. (House of Mercy is an affiliate of Mercy Medical Center.) “Since the space is now available at House of Mercy, we have a unique opportunity to combine the resources of the existing inpatient facility and the expanded outpatient facility. House of Mercy has always been committed to serving the most vulnerable in our community, and this project will help us serve them even better.”

The fundraising campaign for the Community Mental Health Center launched last fall with a donation of $30,000 from GuideOne Insurance. “We know that this is a vital need to improve the overall health of our community,” says Jessica Clark, GuideOne CEO.



Variety—the Children’s Charity Black Tie Gala
When: Jan. 18, 6 p.m. 

Where: The Ron Pearson Center, West Des Moines 

Details: An evening featuring cocktails, dinner, a silent auction and dancing. Proceeds help improve the lives of Iowa children. $300, or $150 for young professionals ages 21-35, or $3,000 for a table of 10;


Bravo Greater Des Moines Awards Gala

When: Feb. 2, 6 p.m. 

Where: HyVee Hall

Details: Always the hottest ticket in town, the Bravo Gala draws more than 1,000 people each year. The event will include dinner and a presentation of the annual Bravo Awards, followed by dancing to the Ken Arlen Orchestra. 

$350, or $3,500 for a corporate table of 10;

Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa TALENT SHOW

When: Feb. 8, 5:30 p.m.

Where: State Historical Building

Details: Performances from club participants, plus games, crafts, food and drink. $50; 

Multiple Sclerosis Society Taste of Generosity: Wine Auction

When: Feb. 8, 5 p.m. 

Where: Prairie Meadows, Altoona 

Details: A wine tasting and a silent auction followed by dinner and a keynote speaker. $100, or $1,000 for a table of 10; 

American Heart Association Heart Ball 

When: Feb. 9, 5 p.m. 

Where: Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center

Details: A cocktail reception, dinner and program, followed by live music. $300; 

Winefest Des Moines Iron Somm

When: Feb. 22, 6 p.m. 

Where: Temple for Performing Arts Ballroom

Details: Help crown Des Moines’ Iron Somm as sommelier Kelsey Seay with Best Case Wines defends her title against sommelier Rae Doyle of Harbinger in a five-course culinary clash. $150;

dsm invites nonprofit organizations to submit events for possible inclusion in this calendar. Please include the following information: name and a brief description of the event, date, time, location, ticket price, and a link to additional details. Send to The deadline for the May/June issue is Feb. 15.

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