Christian Opportunity Center payroll administrator Sharon Rook-Wisse reflected on her 30 years with the organization…in her own words.
When I was hired at COC, the Executive Director did the job interviews. I was working in the nursing home wing of the Pella Community Hospital and told a co-worker that I wanted to do something different. She suggested I apply at COC. I went to COC after one of my shifts (still in my nursing uniform) and spoke to Office Coordinator Doris Nibbelink and asked if I could fill out an application. After I filled it out, I gave it back to Doris and she asked if I had a minute; she wanted to show someone my application. A couple of minutes later, I was greeted by Executive Director Art Ruiter and he interviewed me on the spot (the hiring process has changed a lot since then). My starting wage in 1985 was $4.00 an hour. In the 80’s, we called the homes “cottages” and people supported were called “clients.” To this day, there are still people in Pella that refer to the people supported as clients.
I started at COC on July 30th, 1985, in what was called the RCF/MR (Residential Care Facility for people with Mentally Retardation) as a med-aide supervisor. It is now the North Broadway ICF/ID houses and administrative offices.
During the spring of 1986, I started working in what is now Department 1 (back then it was called Work Activity Center-1) as an instructional assistant. Staff members in that department are now called work skills supervisors. One of my duties was taking care of two guinea pigs named George and Sidney in the Green Room. We also had two outdoor cats named CoCo and Patches. One of my favorite memories was watching a pretend game show on film from Heartland AEA with the people supported called “The Good Life” and another film series called “Circles” (to this day, if someone is standing too close to me, I tell them: “You are in my purple private circle.”). I worked in Department 1 until August of 1999, most of that time I worked in a room called the “Blue Room,” which is now Executive Director Rod Braun and Associate Director John Eilers’ offices. My happiest memories are of the people supported that I worked with in the Blue Room.
During that time, I also worked early morning shifts at the Broadway ICF. I also subbed in what was called the B-CSLA Apartments (15 people living in one- and two-bedroom apartments with shared kitchens), which is now East and West Broadway HCBS. I also worked one summer in a two-bed HCBS apartment that COC had on Main St.
In August of 1999, I transferred to the front office as an office assistant and later as an office coordinator. My duties consisted of setting up job interviews, updating the vehicle schedule, processing people supported payrolls, setting up/taking down items for “Rustic Amenities” with people supported, providing tours with potential applicants for services, admission coordinator duties, and many other duties as assigned tasks.
In August of 2006, I transferred to the finance department which is where I have been for almost nine years. I process staff and people supported payrolls.
One of the main reasons that I have enjoyed being at COC for 30 years is working in a Christ-centered environment and being able to share my faith with others.
When I transferred to the finance department, a dear friend and former co-worker gave me a plaque which still hangs on the wall in my office today…
so she did.
That has been my motto over the years, believing in myself and not being afraid to try something new. I have worn many “hats” at COC and have enjoyed serving others. I can’t imagine working anywhere else.
Christian Opportunity Center (COC) speech aide and work skills supervisor Paige Davidson and her brother Wade hosted the 3rd Annual Marty Davidson Bike Show in Oskaloosa in May, donating the profits from the event to COC in honor of their late father.
Marty Davidson passed away on May 15, 2012 at Iowa Methodist Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
“It’s really hard,” said Paige. “[Marty] was our best friend. He never wanted from anybody; he never asked anything of anyone. He was a great guy and a great person.”
The following weekend, Wade honored his father by hosting a Marty Davidson Memorial Ride. More than 500 people turned out to pay their respects, resulting in the yearly celebration of Marty’s “love for two wheels.”
“My dad was very passionate about bikes,” Wade said. “We enjoyed going to bike events and bike shows together. The first year, we had more than 300 bikes and 400 people and it’s still growing. It’s been really good.”
Bikers may enter their bikes into one of five categories based on its style. Sponsors provide giveaways, while category trophies are handmade by Wade and his friends. Winners are selected by a committee.
Several businesses support the show financially, making it possible for the family to donate profits from the event to a cause of their choice.
In 2013, the event supported an Oskaloosa teenager who suffered a broken neck in an ATV accident. In 2014, a donation was made to a small veterinary clinic because of Marty’s love for animals (especially dogs).
This year, the family donated the event’s profits to COC, where Paige has worked for the past 14 years.
“I love working at COC,” said Paige. “The people supported are like my family. I love helping people; it’s something I’ve always done and it’s something I’m very passionate about.”
And while Wade owns three motorcycles, Paige is working towards the purchase of her first bike for next year’s event.
“That would blow my dad away,” Paige said. “I feel the most free when I’m riding, remembering all of the times we rode together.”
Founded in 1969, COC provides residential, vocational and spiritual supports and services to more than 250 people with disabilities in Dallas, Marion, Mahaska, Warren and Polk counties. For more information visit http://christianopportunity.org/ or connect with Christian Opportunity Center on Facebook.