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P.I. showcases updates with open house

Published: Friday, June 14, 2013 12:00 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 14, 2013 12:03 p.m. CDT

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Although Progress Industries’ renovations and updates to its Day Habilitation program were complete by late 2012, the non-profit showcased its new space to the public on Thursday afternoon with an open house and tour.

What used to consist of an old warehouse space with concrete flooring and exposed pipes and duct work has been transformed into a space sporting five classrooms, which house the Day Habilitation’s five “zones.”

Ruth Neal, Day Habilitation coordinator, explained the program provides social, creative and volunteer opportunities for 60-70 of P.I.’s clients. The five zones — games, exercise, volunteer, crafts and a multipurpose space — have themes and projects that change on a daily basis; for instance, Thursday’s activities focused on the U.S. Open and Father’s Day.

“Each zone has a different purpose Monday through Thursday, and then Friday is our little party day,” Neal said with a smile. On Friday, clients often play bingo and participate in dance parties. Today, however, they’ll spend the day fishing at the Izaak Walton League.

Intake Coordinator Pat Van Baale explained how the renovation — especially the games zone, where she hosted a portion of the tour — has made the space more conducive to the program’s objectives.

“It used to be an open warehouse and work area,” she said. “(The renovation) has been wonderful since we’ve been able to have the spaces built like classrooms. The people we serve like it better now that it’s more organized and quiet.”

While the new space may better divide the various activities Day Habilitation offers, it has, by no means, cut down the sheer amount of work, especially volunteer work, that the clients participate in.

“We want to show that we don’t only get, we give back too,” Day Habilitation Instructor Julie Cummins explained while showcasing various projects completed by P.I.’clients, including treats baked for Hospice patients, placemats and banners decorated for the Senior Citizens’ Center, bags labeled for Meals for the Heartland and treats baked for the animals at JCARL.

“It’s so important for people to learn to give back, whether it’s the people we serve or you and I,” Vice President of Operations Dave McClurg said of the Day Habilitation program’s volunteer efforts. “Just like working, it gives people a sense of worth and pride. I think it’s important, but also pretty neat.”

Dixie Peterson, who serves on the Volunteers in Progress Board, explained that her son, Corey, who participates in the Day Habilitation program, enjoys the space’s remodel — one zone more than most.

“Corey walks 1.1 miles on the treadmill in the exercise room every day — you can’t forget that .1!” Peterson said with a laugh. “This program is very much of a plus. We still get people from Des Moines because many other programs don’t come close to offering the services Progress does.”

Progress Industries CEO Dan Skokan explained how the new and improved space has helped build pride within both P.I.’s clients and its employees.

“It provides a better environment for the people we serve,” Skokan said. “We have tried to create a classroom-type atmosphere. Before, it was an open warehouse, but we’ve created an environment conducive to all the things we want to accomplish with Day Habilitation ... (such as) getting involved with volunteer activities and learning different things about life that we all maybe take for granted.”

“I think there’s a lot more pride; people enjoy coming here,” he added. “Both the people we serve and our employees are proud of the nicer environment, and that’s important.”

“We have a lot of support from the community, which we really appreciate,” McClurg added. “This all wouldn’t be possible without them.”

Staff writer Nicole Wiegand may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 422, or at nwiegand@newtondailynews.com.

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