The founder of a local homeless shelter is leaving.
Ashley Vaala of Lotus Community Project told Alpha Media News that after years of helping people overcome obstacles in the community she will be moving out of the area.
As Vaala gets set to say goodbye she says she is excited for the future of the project that began as an idea years ago when she was working outreach in peoples homes.
“There were several instances where I was helping someone and they didn’t have a home and there was no place for me to put them,” she said. “I’d have to leave and find them the next day, maybe walking around Walmart or at the police station lobby waiting for somebody to continue to help them.”
She said the day the idea changed from thinking about doing something to making a difference came on New Years Eve 2016 when she stopped to help a homeless woman walking down Highway 169.
Through the years, Lotus has expanded their services to serve both men with children and husbands and wives, keeping families together and off the streets:
“The Beacon takes men but they only take adult men which is great but then there was that gap there but we were also finding if a husband and wife became homeless we were running into this where we had to say you can come here but your husband has to go to the Beacon, well people would just choose to stay homeless and live out of their car or be on the street or not have a safe environment because they didn’t want to separate from their loved one.” Vaala said.
Homelessness is an issue that impacts all communities and one thing Vaala would like people to know is that it does not discriminate.
“Just be mindful that it can happen to anybody and it’s not always someone’s doing to themselves,” Vaala said. “Life happens and sometimes you can just find yourself in that spot.”
Vaala and the team have helped to mold the futures of over 500 people impacted by homelessness in our community over the past 4 years and now Ashley Bishop who has been a leading member of that team will move into the role of director.
Homelessness is an issue that impacts all communities and one thing Vaala would like people to know is that it does not discriminate:
“Just be mindful that it can happen to anybody and it’s not always someones doing to themselves,” Vaala said. “Life happens and sometimes you can just find yourself in that spot.”
If you would like to support the efforts of the Lotus Community Project you can do so financially, by supporting community events or by shopping at the thrift store in Webster City. If you need help or know someone who does call 515-571-8802.