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Editorial: Crisis center sale should put issues at forefront

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | SEPTEMBER 20, 2012 6:30 AM

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This fall, our very own Johnson County Board of Supervisors sold its former public-health building to the Crisis Center of Johnson County for only $1. Money doesn’t always matter, it seems.

“We had planned on putting it on the market,” said Supervisor Rod Sullivan. “Then we were approached by the Crisis Center about the possibility of selling it to it at a somewhat reduced rate.”

Once the supervisors became aware of the plans that officials at the Crisis Center had in mind, it unanimously decided to essentially give the building to the nonprofit organization for free. Sullivan said in order to keep the transactions “clean,” a price had to be set and so it was: $1.

The supervisors, by practically giving away this building, has set an example to the community that the issues these organizations seek to resolve should be top priority. 

The structure, 1105 Gilbert Court, is to house a collaborative campus created by four nonprofit organizations serving the area: the Crisis Center, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, Free Lunch Program, and National Alliance on Mental Illness of Johnson County.

The agencies that will occupy the building have dubbed the collaboration as the 1105 Project, named after the center’s location, in order to honor the gift they received and so duly deserved.

Sullivan said some people question the wisdom of the supervisors in choosing not to sell the building to make some money on the open market. However, he said, he thinks that this is a case in which the positive effect of the collaboration is many times greater than just adding money to the board’s budget.

Becci Reedus, the Crisis Center executive director, said she hopes the agencies can move into the building by late spring or early summer of next year, as reported by The Daily Iowan.

The project is intended to help achieve sustainability of the Free Lunch Program; outreach, youth, and prevention education services provided for victims of abuse; expanded programs for individuals in crisis, and those with mental illness. There will also be a commercial kitchen that local foods industry and others can use, as well as meeting spaces for the community.

“We are excited to see this project moving forward. It will make receiving services for our clients so much easier,” said Harmony Hauser, communications coordinator at the Crisis Center. “In just one location, services will be available from The Crisis Center, as well as [Domestic Violence], Free Lunch Program, and [the mental-health group].”

Hauser said with the new location, they expect to provide 45,000 direct services to clients annually.

These four organizations have been serving the Johnson County community for years. The Crisis Center has taken walk-in clients for counseling since 1972 and expanded its phone service to be 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in 1976; the Free Lunch Program, which started in 1983, serves an average of 110 meals per day, and the mental-health group and Domestic Violence have provided support for those individuals affected by biological brain disorders and domestic violence, respectively.

The benefit that Johnson County and the Iowa City area in particular have received as a result of the existence of these organizations and their programs is incredible and in many ways immeasurable. It would be near sinful to ignore the contributions that they have made to our community over all these years.

Luckily, the grateful got a chance, through the supervisors’ decision, to give back to those who have given so much to our community.


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