MUSCATINE, Iowa–People walking through downtown Muscatine Sept. 30 got a welcome surprise. On the patio of First National Bank, day habilitation clients, along with Day Habilitation Manager Emilee Crumly and First National Bank’s Nick Hays, invited passers by to have a cookie on them. The partnership celebrated both National Love People Day and the positive community connections the day habilitation program has started creating.
In order for the Crossroads day habilitation program to continue to receive funding, it needed to more to a community based rather than a self-contained model. As the program started looking for a place in the community to use as hub for their activities, Vision 2020 Director Cheryl Plank put them in touch with the Reverend Kevin Powell of Trinity Episcopal Church. Before coming to Muscatine, Powell had given rides to people who needed transportation to day habilitation services, so he welcomed the opportunity to use his church to help Crossroads.
On Sept. 7, Crossroads started their Connections Without Walls program, which allows participating clients to chose one of several paths each day. Paths focus on volunteering at one of several local organizations, including the Muscatine Center for Social Action food pantry, the Salvation Army of Muscatine’s meal program, in the Senior Resources garden and also include opportunities for participants to exercise, and eat at some of Muscatine’s best restaurants. So far, both the clients and the organizations they volunteer at have enjoyed these changes to the day habilitation project. “Greg Bock at the Salvation Army says we bring a good energy and vibe with us,” said Crumly.
Since not all of Crossroads’ clients live in Muscatine, the Choices program makes a point of helping them get familiar with Muscatine. Participants take frequent walks through downtown. While on their walks, they nearly always stop at the First National Bank patio.
Hays recently moved to Muscatine from Sidney, Nebraska, where he worked as the director of employment for an organization similar to Crossroads. He enjoyed seeing all the day habilitation clients, and one day, he stepped out to talk to their leaders to learn more about the program. Inspired by what he heard, he knew he wanted to find a way to celebrate the clients and make them feel welcome. Eventually, he came up with the idea of holding a pizza party for them and picked Sept. 30 as the date to do it.
When Crossroads staff realized that coincided with National Love People Day, they knew they had to bring the whole community into their celebration too. All involved decided that passing out fresh baked cookies from Let’s Eat would help them show the community just how much they value their support.
From 9:30 a. m. to 12:30 p. m., Crossroads clients passed out about four dozen cookies, helping people of all sorts feel appreciated. “That’s something the world needs more of, a little bit of love in general,” remarked Hays. Afterwards, they enjoyed delicious hot Domino’s pizza as a reward for their morning’s work.