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From run-down chairs to brand new benches, Council Bluffs homeless shelter gets renovated outdoor space

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa  — From deteriorating seats to brand-new benches.

Corey Schovanec, a New Visions attendee, remarked, “It’s nice, it’s very lovely, and it also looks better.”

High school students in Council Bluffs who are concurrently enrolled in building technology classes at Iowa Western Community College responded swiftly to the demand.

Brandy Wallar, CEO of the New Visions homeless shelter, stated that while the economic development executive director was on-site, he observed that several of the males were sitting on chairs and milk crates.

Thereafter, nine wooden benches were constructed, stained, and shipped.

Schovanec remarked, “It’s excellent that others are looking out for the individuals who need it the most, and providing them with sturdy seating as opposed to rickety old chairs, because we’ve seen many of them collapse.”

Wallar stated that the benches provide additional room for guests as homelessness increases.

“Having seats outdoors where they can take a seat, take a big breath, and have their own place is incredibly important, as is doing so with dignity,” Wallar said.

Additionally, these benches reflect a new collaboration between the college and the shelter.

The school is assisting in the construction of a classroom at the shelter and will soon provide classes to guests.

Libby Woods, the director of adult education at Iowa Western, stated, “We will also partner with our short-term credit certificate programs so that students can enroll in some form of training, such as a welding certificate or culinary training, here on site and eventually transfer to campus.”

The formation of this cooperation and community, according to Wallar, makes her optimistic about the future.

“Having collaborations like this, having individuals and schools say ‘Hey, we’re going to be part of the solution’ — it gives me so much optimism and reassures me that our community is on the right path to solving homelessness,” said Wallar.

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