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FHC 0088Faith, Hope & Charity, a provider of residential care and community services to children and young adults with special needs for 50 years in Storm Lake, is being acquired by Hope Haven of Rock Valley, one of Iowa’s largest special needs providers.

Faith, Hope & Charity OKs merger

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Faith Hope & Charity, the agency serving intellectually-challenged children in Storm Lake for 50 years, will become a division of Rock Valley-based Hope Haven Inc. The merger is expected to take effect February 1.

FHC leaders have been exploring the possibilities for change for about two years, with the board deciding last week to sign an agreement with Hope Haven, which has also been serving northwest Iowans for over half a century.

“It came down to about three choices - try to stand alone as long as we could, try to develop new services and get bigger, or partner with another agency,” explained Larry Hecht, president of the FHC board.

They spoke with four larger organizations, and felt Hope Haven offered the best arrangement. “Their mission and culture are close to ours,” Hecht said.

“It was a big decision, a hard decision. This was not a fast decision - it was well-thought out by the board,” agrees Cindy Wiemold, CEO of FHC.

Under the deal, Faith, Hope & Charity will keep its name, all of its current employees will be offered the opportunity to remain as Hope Haven staff, and support raised for the facility from the community will stay with the Storm Lake operation. Wiemold said the staff was informed of the decision Wednesday. There was little surprise, because leaders had been transparent about the likelihood of change. They planned to announce the merger to families later that night.

“This decision will maintain FHC’s local roots, while strengthening our mission for years into the future,” Wiemold said of the merger.

The change is expected to be seamless. “The kids won’t notice anything different, and that’s the way we intend it,” Hope Haven CEO Matt Buley said. “I’m excited to see this play out, and confident the children, their families and the community as a whole will see continued excellence in our services in Storm Lake.”

There is wisdom behind the merger, he suggests.

“The world of disability services in Iowa has gotten increasingly complex. Changes are frequent, and throughout our industry there are questions about funding through managed care. We can have a greater impact by combining our strengths.” It boils down to children and their needs being met, he said.

The merger almost didn’t take place, however. Earlier in the talks, the previous CEO decided to retire, and told FHC leaders that his agency would pull out of consideration. Buley was able to keep the talks going when he came on board, just over three months ago.

Hope Haven has taken over other organizations in the region that were in danger of closing their doors. That isn’t the case with FHC, which has been operating in the black.

The FHC board considered that while still sound, services might have been lost entirely if the organization remained on its own and fell into financial difficulty.

The future of the facility may come in the form of a different model. As in other forms of care, the emphasis is moving toward community-based rather than institutional facilities. “Having 32 people living under one roof is becoming kind of an archaic model,” Wiemold said. She feels confident that the FHC buildings, however, will continue in use in some form well into the future.

Partnering with Hope Haven, which has 10 times the budget of FHC and over 700 staff members, the local facility will also gain access to more technology, finance and human resources expertise. Hope Haven is deeply involved in services to adults and mental health care, which could open up opportunities for growth and expansion for FHC. Most of the children served there have mental health issues as well as intellectual disabilities, Wiemold says. “This could be a huge asset for Storm Lake.”

FHC serves about 80 children, up to 32 living at the facility and around others remaining in the home and traveling in for services. It also operates a group home in Storm Lake to assist teenagers in transitioning into the community setting, and a respite program in which families can access short term care.

Hope Haven serves more than 1,600 children and adults. It operates in Rock Valley, Spencer, Spirit Lake, Estherville, Orange City and Sibley with outreach services to several other communities in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota.

FHC grateful for service of retiring board members

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Faith, Hope & Charity would like to share their appreciation with Storm Lake and surrounding communities as they say, “Thank you,” for the service of retiring members of the Faith, Hope & Charity Board of Directors.

Cindy Wiemold, FHC’s Executive Director stated, “Faith, Hope & Charity is very fortunate to benefit from the dedication, insight, and vision of our Board Members in leading our organizations during these critical times. I am grateful for their years of support and confident of the course for the future they have worked to establish.”

Members of the Faith, Hope & Charity Board of Directors who have completed their second term of service as of June 30, 2017 are Michelle Ahrenholtz, Sarah Dvergsten, Charlie Larson and Jon Wilcke. Also retiring is Board Member Tim McDaniel, who graciously added an additional year after completing his second term in 2016.

Michelle Ahrenholtz, an Early Childhood Special Education Teacher & Consultant with Northwestern Iowa’s AEA in Denison, served as a member of the Advancement Committee and is a strong and consistent supporter of FHC’s Annual Fund Drive, and of their mission. Michelle brought a very welcomed perspective to the board dynamic, both as mother to a child with special needs and as an advocate for ECSE.


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We are currently looking for volunteers to join our unique "Special Friends" mentoring program.  This program was designed to benefit the children at Faith, Hope & Charity, by connecting our kids with members of the community.  You have the opportunity to earn vast amounts of heartwarming smiles by participating in special events, remember a child during birthdays & holidays or simply stopping by for a visit.  Through the investment of your time and heart, you will benefit from making a difference in the life of a child.


We are so very grateful for the support we receive!  Every dollar you donate makes a difference and allows us to continue caring for young people with special needs. It is our honor to recognize the following donors who contributed between April 1 and June 30, 2017.


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Contact Information

Faith, Hope & Charity
1815 West Milwaukee
Storm Lake, IA 50588
Phone: 712-732-5127
Fax: 712-732-6002