Christian Opportunity Center (COC) is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1969. COC began with the parents of five children with disabilities, who aspired for more opportunities for their children. In 1969, opportunities for individuals with disabilities were limited, and many parents were forced to make hard choices when it came to the future of their children with disabilities. The opportunities these parents sought for their children were for them to receive a quality education, to live close to home, and to continue to grow in their Christian faith. These parents came together, and with overwhelming support from community members, local businesses, and churches, COC began its ministry in September of 1969.
As the landscape of the services that COC offered changed according to the needs of the disability community, COC began to change its focus to meet the needs of both children with disabilities who were graduating from high school and adults with disabilities in the community. The need for vocational and residential services and continued focus on religious services has shaped COC into what it is today. The following years brought the expansion of supports and services to Oskaloosa, Indianola, Des Moines, and Knoxville. From the early days of the organization, the goal of COC has emphasized supporting individuals with disabilities to live the life they choose to live. Today COC maintains that vision by offering supports and services to over 260 individuals with disabilities, and employs over 300 staff in our service areas. To honor its 50th year, COC is working on developing a comprehensive history book of the organization, which will be available in September.
COC also launched a new scholarship this year in celebration of this special anniversary. To complement the Sarah Braun scholarship already in place for a high school senior going into human services, this new scholarship was given to a local student who was part of their high school’s special education program. This year’s Sarah Braun “Proving What’s Possible” Scholarship was awarded to Knoxville High School Senior, April Olson. Olson plans to attend the University of Iowa’s REACH (Realizing Education and Career Hopes) program, which is a certified transition program for students ages 18-25 years old with intellectual, cognitive and learning disabilities.
To pay tribute to the communities COC has served and the support they have given over the past 50 years, and to celebrate COC’s achievements and commemorate this special milestone, COC plans to sponsor several local community events throughout this summer. COC invites the community to celebrate with COC all they have achieved together over the last half-century and to look forward to the opportunities that lay ahead with several exciting events:
July 4th Knoxville July 4th Celebration (COC will sponsor the Bike Parade)
July 12th Friday Night Live at Memorial Park in Indianola
July 15th Oskaloosa Movie Night at the Southern Iowa Fair Grounds
July 18th Thursday Night on the Square in Pella
We encourage those in the community to come out and support these events and celebrate COC’s 50th Anniversary.