Family Resource Center open house Jan. 22 at new location

The Family Resource Center, a branch of Guttenberg Municipal Hospital, invite the public to an open house at their new location at 514 S. River Park Dr. on Jan. 22 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

The Family Resource Center will host an open house on Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. at their new location, 514 S. River Park Drive, Guttenberg. This branch of Guttenberg Municipal Hospital is a hub for a variety of agencies and programs that are difficult to reach in many rural communities, and their new location allows them to provide more to the community than ever before.

The Family Resource Center was previously located in a building just two blocks north of the new location, in an office coordinator Kari Harbaugh calls “compact.” Within the small rooms, agencies had difficulty meeting with families of more than two or three. “We have space for that now,” she smiles.

The large front windows in the new location allow natural light to brighten the entire space. Tall ceilings and white walls create a feeling of freshness, and the wood flooring layered with soft, colorful rugs make the room feel like home. “The whole environment is very, very inviting, warm, and comfortable,” said Harbaugh. “Whether someone is coming to drop off a donation, attend a group, or receive services, it’s pleasing to everyone.”

The Resource Center’s old location was not handicap accessible, and Harbaugh can recall numerous incidents when first-time clients with wheelchairs simply had to wait outside. Parking was shut down daily while school busses accessed the street, making it even more difficult to enter. “It just wasn’t acceptable,” said Harbaugh.

The new location has two handicap accessible entries, as well as an accessible bathroom.  The rear entrance provides added security for victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, and also functions as a loading dock for the many items that go in and out of the Resource Center.

The non-profit organization keeps a stock of donated coats, personal hygiene supplies, baby care items, toys, and children’s clothing, which overflowed the shelves in their previous office. Now, the full basement below the new office houses these items and more. “We can keep some extra things for if someone has a house fire,” Harbaugh explained. 

Three offices, a play therapy room, a front desk, and a spare workstation will help accommodate the fifteen or more professionals that utilize space at the Family Resource Center on a daily, weekly, monthly or as-needed basis. A new therapist, Echo Kent, will provide services from one such office. Kent lives in Independence, which Harbaugh says some clients consider a benefit. “In a small town, people are really nervous. They’ve asked me, ‘What’s her last name?’” Harbaugh said. She is able to assure them that Kent probably isn’t someone they know.

Eventually, a second therapist will join the Family Resource Center in their new office. “There’s definitely a need,” Harbaugh told The Press. “With insurance changes, everyone has access now.” Many families, she said, have had to travel to Dubuque, Decorah, or further to meet with a therapist during limited hours. In some cases, traveling isn’t an option. As part of the Family Resource Center's mission to be flexibile and accomodating, Kent will provide services there until 8:00 p.m.

The Family Resource Center can still be reached at the same telephone number, 252-3215, for information on upcoming events like financial literacy classes, parent support groups (including one specifically for parents of disabled children), and fuel assistance (sign-up by April 1).

“We’re always open to any kind of feedback. If there’s a need, we try to make it happen,” said Harbaugh. “Now, with a little bit more room, we have the ability to offer more.”

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