Category Archives: Recent News

COC Golf Classic to be held on June 11th

Christian Opportunity Center (COC) is excited to announce the COC Golf Classic will be taking place on June 11th at the Bos Landen Golf Club in Pella. This is the 19th year for the COC Golf Classic; it remains COC’s most significant fundraising event.  In 2020, COC canceled the Golf Classic twice due to Covid.

This year’s event will look a little different compared to years past events. One such change is that there will not be a dinner after the tournament has ended.  Instead, golfers will have boxed lunches provided for them before the tournament.

The Golf Classic committee has also added a new option that will allow golfers to “Support from a Distance” if they are not ready to participate in a group event.  Golfers who choose the “Support from a Distance” option will receive a gift certificate to Bos Landen for 18 holes, a Calloway Golf shirt, and a gift bag.  These gift certificates must be redeemed during the summer of 2021. “It will be a great way for people to continue to support COC, have fun, but do it when they are comfortable,” said Amy Zuck, Golf Classic Committee chair.

A silent auction will coincide with the Golf Classic, and this year’s auction will be online only.  Anyone in the community will be able to participate in the silent auction.  Details of the silent auction will be announced on COC’s social media pages the week before the event.  COC is still accepting silent auction items. 

“We are excited to get back a bit of normalcy to our organization and experience a day of fun and fellowship as we celebrate COC.,” said Amy Zuck.

If your business wants to sponsor this year’s Golf Classic or provide a silent auction item, please contact Amy Zuck. Registration is now open for golfers at https://christianopportunity.org/giving/golf-classic/ or by contacting Amy Zuck directly at 641-628-1162.

COC Awarded Grants to Teach Critical Vocational Skills

Christian Opportunity Center was recently awarded two separate grants by the Warren County Philanthropist Partnership and the United Way of Marion County. Both grants focused on teaching vocational skills to individuals with disabilities who are employed in the community. The grants allowed Community Based Employment (CBE) staff to purchase iPad and the Work Autonomy application. The I pads and app will enable individuals with disabilities more independence at their jobs. They will be able to check schedules, request time off, communicate with managers and co-workers, and keep motivated as they work.
COC thanks the Warren County Philanthropist Partnership and the Marion County United Way for their continued support.

           

Sheri Harper Retires from COC After 20 Years

Christian Opportunity Center (COC) would like to announce the retirement of Sheri Harper after 20 years of service. Harper started her career at COC in October 2000 as a Program Coordinator.  Harper began her career in disability services after graduating with a degree in Human Services and Sociology from William Penn. She worked for another disability services agency in Oskaloosa before coming to COC.

Harper has served as a Program Coordinator since October 2000. She worked for two years in the Pella region and then moved to the Oskaloosa region, where she ended her COC career. During Harper’s tenure as Program Coordinator, she played a critical role in coordinating the programs for people with disabilities to ensure their well-being and assist them in reaching their personal goals. 

When asked what significant changes she has seen in the disability field throughout her career, Harper stated, “Moving individuals from state institutions to Home and Community Based Services (group) homes was one of the most heartwarming changes for me. Seeing individuals (with disabilities) who grew up in institutions become more independent and learn that this is their home. They can get a drink of water, get into the refrigerator, and have a say in what they wanted to do without getting permission was both challenging and rewarding at the same time. Watching how these individuals interacted with others, seeing the joy on their faces, and knowing how they were when they first left the institution is the best.”  

Harper, at her Drive-Thru retirement open house.

Due to COVID, COC celebrated Harper’s retirement with a drive-thru open house. Staff was able to socially distance while sharing memories and thanking Harper for the difference she has made in so many lives.

As Harper reflected on her time at COC, she stated, “I have a book of fond memories I am taking with me from my years at COC. There are so many funny and heartwarming stories I have to look back on.  Experiencing their deep faith in

 God, hearing the heartfelt prayers shared by the individuals we support and seeing others’ compassion has been so rewarding and even overwhelming at times. I truly have received much more than I have given. COC is an amazing

COC Executive Director John Eilers thanks Harper for her years of service at COC

organization, and I have been blessed to have been a small part of its mission. I have formed true friendships and have been lifted when I was down.”

Harper plans to travel with her husband and grandkids once the world gets back to normal. She also plans to make a family cookbook to share with my children, nieces, and nephews to pass family recipes on to their families.

Direct Support Professionals Are The Heart of COC

For more than 50 years, the Christian Opportunity Center (COC) has supported individuals with disabilities to realize their full potential. COC’s support and services’ success has been made possible by COC’s dedicated front-line staff, our Direct Support Professionals (DSP).   Three hundred sixty-five days a year, COC DSPs give their time, heart, and energy to help those living with an intellectual, physical, or mental disability realize their full potential.

DSPs provide countless supports and services for individuals with disabilities in COC’s residential and vocational programs. These duties can include on-the-job training, teaching life skills, independent living skills, social skills, and communication skills.  DSPs are responsible for the health, safety, and well-being of each individual they serve and work hard to keep individuals connected with their families and communities.  During the pandemic, these duties proved essential to the people we support, their families, employers, and the communities we serve.

“The past six months have been very challenging in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and keeping the people supported and staff at COC healthy and safe. The Direct Support Professionals who work at COC have risen to the challenge by going above and beyond in keeping people supported and other staff healthy and safe. The DSPs at COC has responded to the crisis with great creativity and perseverance. I am thankful for every DSP at COC who has worked selflessly for the good of others during the pandemic.” John Eilers, COC Executive Director.

The week of September 13-21st is National Direct Support Professionals (DSP) Appreciation week, but COC will celebrate our 260 DSPs during September. COC will honor each of our DSPs with gifts of appreciation and will be highlighting DSPs on social media outlets throughout the month. 

Please join COC this month as we show our appreciation for the DSPs that impact our community.  Each life a DSP touches helps our local community, families, and workforce thrive.  Whether it is helping someone live independently, obtain employment, or are simply being a friend, the work of each DSP results in a substantial positive impact on our community.  DSPs are the Heart of COC. 

COC LIFE SKILLS PROGRAM PLANS ALTERNATIVE SUMMER CAMP TO REPLACE THOSE CANCELLED BY COVID

Christian Opportunity Center’s (COC) Life Skills is a day habilitation program for adults with disabilities that focuses on applying life skills, communication skills, and social skills in an integrated community setting. COC’s Life Skills programs are located in Pella, Knoxville, Oskaloosa, and Indianola.

Social skills for an individual with disabilities can be difficult to master and these skills are crucial to a person’s well-being and quality of life.  COC continuously seeks out opportunities for the people we support to find alternative resources outside of our agency in which they can work on social skills.

Adult summer camps for people with disabilities are a fantastic way not only to work on these skills but to create new experiences and memories. COVID has caused many of the people that COC supports to experience disappointments, with the temporary closure of Life Skills and the cancelation of summer camps being two of the hardest blows. 

COC Life Skills program re-opened recently after closing due to COVID.  As Life Skills has re-opened, staff have taken additional precautions to keep the People we Support safe.  Top priorities in the first weeks back have been wearing masks properly, social distancing, and personal hygiene to ensure safety.  Staff is also planning ways to bring some beloved activities back into their lives safely.  One plan is to host a safe Life Skills Summer Camp in Pella, Oskaloosa, Knoxville, and Indianola later this summer, which will have similarities to the camps that people supported are familiar with attending. 

Daily activities will include campfire safety, learning how to put up a tent, building a birdfeeder, and will end with a cookout.  Staff would also like to see each participant receive a souvenir shirt to remember this unique year. 

“We hope that this camp will provide some joy and some normalcy in their life.  Returning to Life Skills means so much to the people we support.  One of our first days back, during our grateful prayer, many of the Persons Supported talked about how they were so thankful to be back at Life Skills with their staff and other people supported.”- Life Skills staff.

Like many things in 2020, this camp was a product of COVID and wasn’t previously planned or budgeted for.  COC is fundraising to host the Life Skills Summer Camp by introducing a “Be Kind” t-shirt fundraiser to raise funds to cover the cost of expenses and shirts for each participant.  Shirts can be purchased HERE.    An option is also available to sponsor a shirt for the attendees of the camp.  The COC t-shirt fundraising store will be accepting orders until July 26th.  The camps will be held in late August in all locations.  

Camp Shirt

Our mission is to Integrate Christian values in empowering individuals with disabilities to realize their full potential.