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New nonprofit looks to help people with disabilities integrate into the community

December 13, 2022 | article online

A nationwide nonprofit organization that helps people with intellectual or developmental disabilities integrate more fully with their surrounding community opened the doors of its new Council Bluffs office this week.

“We’re very happy to be here in Council Bluffs,” said recruiting coordinator Deborah Lierman. “Unfortunately, people with disabilities are an underserved community, and, like everyone, they deserve to live rich, full lives, and it’s a real privilege to help them achieve that.”

Community Options partners with state and local agencies, including the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, to provide housing and find jobs for people with disabilities.

“We’re currently focusing on placing several individuals who’ve lived at Glenwood Resource Center, which is closing, for their whole life,” said Brian Dion, the organization’s chief development officer. “Many of them have had jobs, minimum wage jobs or better, in the community, so we’re looking to get them jobs in the community, as well as natural family homes.”

Each Community Options home supports three or four people with around-the-clock staff to assist the residents. Each home will also have a vehicle onsite to help transport the residents around the city.

Over the next year and a half, Community Options will open eight four-bedroom homes in Mills and Pottawattamie counties, with the first two Council Bluffs homes opening their doors within the next 60 days, Dion said.

“We model these programs as several states in the country have closed their institutions, 20, 40 years ago, and we’re hoping to help Iowa with that project,” Dion said.

The nonprofit expects to employ 60 to 80 staff members once all the homes have opened.

Members of the CB Ambassadors from the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce were on hand for the ribbon cutting and to welcome a new face to the neighborhood. Community Options hopes to utilize the organization to help its clients find jobs.

Though new to Iowa, Community Options operates in 10 other states — Arizona, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. The new Council Bluffs office is the organization’s 51st. - New nonprofit looks to help people with disabilities integrate into the community – New nonprofit looks to help people with disabilities integrate into the community