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WESCO Marks Stepping Stones Transitional Living 5th Anniversary, Reflects On Lives Changed

WESCO’s Stepping Stones Transitional Living Program Marks 5th Anniversary

Denison, Iowa (September 23, 2021) – WESCO Industries recently celebrated the 5th anniversary of its Stepping Stones Transitional Living program. This program has been immensely successful in impacting the lives of individuals in need and helping them rediscover their independence in communities across the state. 

The program has been located in the former rectory of St. Ann’s Church in Vail, Iowa, since 2016. Over the span of those five years, Stepping Stones has served over 114 individuals coming out of prison, homelessness, or from a hospital stay. The program provides short-term housing for individuals who need to redevelop skills to succeed in the community. WESCO has witnessed a significant increase in the need for these types of services as the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted communities. The program continues to be at full capacity, and WESCO maintains an active waiting list. 

WESCO’s philosophy with this program is that individuals experiencing hardships need to be given a helping hand towards re-assimilating back into the community. This includes paring individuals with trained support staff that help them reach their highest levels of independence.

“Living at Stepping Stones gave me my life back. It helped to show my family that I was serious about my recovery and helped me to believe that I could,” said one individual that was enrolled in the program. There are endless stories of individuals transitioning successfully to the community. 

One, in particular, is an individual that moved to Stepping Stones with nothing but the clothes on his back. His blood sugar levels were not controlled and imbalanced. Stepping Stones staff worked with him and showed him the proper way to eat and take care of his blood sugars to the point that he was no longer dependent on insulin to control his levels. He enhanced his daily living skills and is now working full time, living in a home with roommates, and recently purchased his dream truck.

Lisa is another individual that received the support she needed from the program to gain her independence. Previously residing under bridges, and park benches, she joined Stepping Stones and began working at WESCO’s redemption center. After Stepping Stones, Lisa moved into a hab home and was also able to obtain community employment. 

She is currently living in a home with roommates and has the funds to fulfill her needs. Her mental and physical health is now balanced, and she is living a happy, healthy life. She stated that she is thankful for Stepping Stones and WESCO because she is not sure where she would be today if it was not for the organization. She is also thrilled that she has a savings account which is something she never imagined having.

“Stepping Stones offers an excellent opportunity for individuals to build the foundation they need to succeed as they transition into the next step of their recovery journey. As a staff member at Stepping Stones since 2018, I have seen many individuals begin their journey and see the success our program helps clients achieve. I am blessed to get to be a part of it,” said Carla Long, Direct Support Provider at Stepping Stones.

The Rolling Hills Mental Health Region funds the program, but despite the success of Stepping Stones, the initiative faces an uncertain future as state funding may be shifted by the Iowa Legislation. We encourage the public to voice support for this valuable service to the community and those in need by reaching out to their state representatives. Along with funding needs, Stepping Stones requires material goods to support these individuals. Throughout the year, WESCO holds a clothing and basic necessity drive to assist with offsetting costs associated with the program.

For more information about WESCO Industries and their Stepping Stones Transitional Living Center, please visit WESCOind.org. Families, caregivers, guardians, caseworkers, and other agencies should contact Deidra Brown at 712.677.2328 or dbrown@wescoind.org if they are interested in having WESCO provide services, request a tour, or supply additional information.

About WESCO Industries

Established in 1966, WESCO Industries began its journey of providing community services by assisting a handful of individuals in Denison, Iowa. Since its founding, the non-profit company has transformed into one of the leading providers of disability services in Iowa, assisting nearly 150 individuals and employing over 100 dedicated professionals. Driven by the mission of ‘Empowering and Supporting People in Healthy Communities,’ WESCO Industries continues to expand services and programs to attain its goal of changing the lives of others. 

Seeing so many individuals succeed in life and being able to transition back into the community is the best part of my job. - WESCO Industries Employee
They can't tell you when you start this job there may come a time where you find you're more comfortable surrounded by people with developmental disabilities than when you are with the general population. But it happens. - WESCO Industries Employee
Until someone has had their own experience with someone with a developmental disability, they just won't understand. - WESCO Industries Employee
I’m so grateful this job became my purpose, my passion & part of my identity. WESCO Industries Employee