Congressman Dave Loebsack visited Newton Tuesday morning to tour the facilities of Discover Hope 5:17 Ministry, whose programs are designed to help people suffering from addiction or mental health issues.
Loebsack, who has been representing Iowa’s Second Congressional District for the past 12 years, sat down with Executive Director Robbie Robinson to discuss what Discover Hope does and the story behind how Robinson began this journey. Robinson came to Iowa with his family and ended up in Newton after spending time in a correctional facility.
“This has been an amazing journey,” Robinson said.
The idea behind Discover Hope came from Robinson’s life of addiction and time spent in prison. Robinson attributes his issues to the trauma he experienced in his life and how that has driven him to help others.
“They gave me my $100 gate fee and told me to be a positive, productive citizen ... First job told me ‘no’ and I went back to what I knew how to do and that was selling drugs,” Robinson said.
Discover Hope’s journey began when Robinson and Lt. Aaron Groves of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office formed the organization in 2014 and held meetings in the basement of a local church before multiple moves.
Loebsack was touring the facility to see what Discover Hope was doing and how its story all began. It is a nonprofit so the organization raises its money or receives private donations to keep the doors open and Loebsack was impressed with the work they undertake.
“With my own view about addiction and all these issues that Robbie is dealing with I think we have to have a multi-pronged approach. There are some things that state sponsored-organizations can do, there some things that faith-based organizations can do ... I am in favor of all of those ways. If they are effective, that is what matters to me,” Loebsack said.
While there have been many changes to Discover Hope over the years, Robinson made it known there are plenty more changes to come in the future as he has more goals he would like to accomplish.
“My next five-year plan is to build a campus. I want to get the women’s (program) going, the work facility, and then we want to build our blueprint so we can take it to the next community and say, ‘What’s next? Where else can we go?’” Robinson said.
Contact Dustin Teays at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or firstname.lastname@example.org