Joan Spooner knows where the need is.
As director of the Storm Lake center for Upper Des Moines Opportunity, Inc., Spooner sees firsthand the victims of poverty and tries to find help for those in need.
Spooner offered a glimpse into the challenges that UDMO faces as it tries to help the needy when she and UDMO Executive Director Larry Rohret appeared before the Board last Tuesday with the organization's annual funding request.
Spooner said locally, UDMO is seeing more people that did not have utilities hooked up over the summer.
"It's first-come, first-served," Rohret said of those applying for heating assistance. Even if there are no longer heating assistance funds available, Rohret said those who qualify can still get a moratorium on having their utilities shut off. Spooner also said that many people that may have not sought assistance from UDMO for five years are returning.
Other local concerns are that Buena Vista County has bucked a trend in a decline in teen pregnancies, Rohret said. Spooner said that on the average, families in the county are larger than they were a few years ago.
While there are certainly challenges, Spooner noted a bright side, such as the willingness of the "haves" to help the "have-nots".
Spooner noted just over $10,000 was raised in the annual UDMO rummage sale this year. "They're very supportive of Upper Des Moines," Spooner said of people in the community. "You just couldn't ask to work in a better community. Those things just don't happen without the support of the community."
Last year, UDMO served 3,383 people representing 1,062 households in Buena Vista County, Rohret said. Upper Des Moines Opportunity serves 12 counties in north central Iowa and has an operating budget of $11 million yearly.