Foundation invested in home

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 12 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:31 am in

By Bill Skow

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I want to offer a sense of the extraordinary support provided to the Iowa Juvenile Home.

In 1996, the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation was established as a charitable, non-profit corporation providing support for students at the home. The foundation has raised and spent more than $600,000, every dime of which has gone to the direct benefit of these very disadvantaged Iowa children.

We extensively have renovated educational facilities at IJH, including a completely up-to-date, well-stocked and staffed library, as well as remodeling the science and reading rooms.

We have provided substantial funding for staff training in areas not funded by the Department of Human Services. We also have provided nice Christmas celebrations and gifts for the students, something many of them never had experienced.

We have sponsored therapeutic activities such as the teaching of playwriting by a professional and renowned playwright that resulted in a very impressive dramatic production. We have sponsored musical instrument and vocal training by professional

musicians.

We sponsor Trauma Reflected in Art, a critically acclaimed traveling art show of IJH student works, now permanently housed at Drake University.

Our benefactors have been many, including the Carver Trust, McElroy Foundation, Boeing Corp., Alliant Energy and ShopKo/Pamida, noted fraternal and civic organizations, along with many private individuals.

Our largest benefactor, by far, is a private individual who is a successful commercial real estate developer in the Chicago area and former IJH resident.

Our board members have come from across Iowa and all walks of life. They not only have seen the benefit of the Iowa Juvenile Home but have invested time and resources so these Iowa children can see that someone does care.

If any form of abuse was occurring, these individuals not only would have the competence, but also the familiarity with IJH, to identify it. Also safe to assume is that these individuals would be risking personal and professional integrity to associate with an abusive entity.

IJH staff members also have gone well beyond their institutional responsibilities to make real impacts on the lives of the children they serve. Staff members have taken up collections of their hard-earned money to assist in student tuition at college.

There are repeated examples of discharged students calling or visiting staff members to seek guidance, report successes or confide deeply personal challenges.

We find no other examples, in either the private or public sectors, of such a robust support system for disadvantaged youths. We find no other example of staff longevity close to the 11.75-year average tenure of the recently fired IJH staff.

We invite you to visit “Keep IJH Open” on Facebook to read the testimonials of former residents. We also invite you to contact your state representative or senator and Gov. Terry Branstad and urge them to support legislation to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home.

Bill Skow is a retired executive vice president of the State Bank of Toledo and a founding member of the Iowa Juvenile Home Foundation. Comments: Bill.Skow@yahoo.com.

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