CommUnity Can Help
Nowhere to Turn
It’s 1969 on the University of Iowa campus. Two young freshmen return to their dorm room in Burge Hall to find the unexpected—their roommate has barricaded the door and attempted suicide. They rush her to care and after a long and scary night, they are sent home knowing she is going to be physically okay. But in the following days, as the two women deal with their roommate’s emotional upheaval—and their own—they discover that no existing resources are available to help them.
That experience launched a campaign of advocacy to establish support services, not only for those two young women but for all University of Iowa students. The two women began knocking on doors and by 1970, they found an ally. Verne Kelley, the Community Mental Health Center’s director at that time, helped these students establish what would become The Crisis Center of Johnson County—known today as the CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank.
In the Beginning
The original service was a telephone hotline that people could call to seek counseling and advice on whatever might be troubling them. Trained volunteers staffed the phones to respond to callers in crisis and specialized in suicide prevention and intervention.
For the first two years, the hotline operated out of a secret location in Iowa City. In 1972, services were moved to a new location and walk-in clients were accepted for counseling. The center expanded its phone service to be 24/7/365 in 1976.
Philosophy & Collaboration Guide Growth
CommUnity was founded with the philosophy that a client should determine how they can best be helped using a process that ensures dignity to all who are served. This philosophy has facilitated CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank’s growth as the community it serves continues to grow.
In 1978, a small food pantry was added in response to client needs. Clothing and household items became available through vouchers from Goodwill and Crowded Closet in 1983.
Throughout the 1980’s, staff and volunteers worked to expand suicide prevention services and began offering support for survivors of a suicide loss. Services were developed to respond to the needs of those experiencing homelessness.
In the following decade, a collaboration with the local religious community led to distribution of emergency financial support. The Food Bank grew into a weekly operation and began working with Table-to-Table to distribute locally gleaned food.
In recent years, suicide prevention training and crisis incident stress management services have been added.
While CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank has served as a resource for individuals with a wide variety of personal crises, it has also been a leader in helping with community-wide problems.
The team responded to the Farm Crisis in the 1980’s, took action during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1990’s and have been integral in helping Johnson County rebuild after multiple natural disasters throughout the years.
In 2019, the name was changed to reflect this commitment to serving the community.
Helping Us Help Others
A. Staff shall be expected to uphold the mission and principles of CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank.
B. CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank shall not discriminate with regard to race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, associational preference or any classification that would deprive the person of consideration as an individual.
C. Activities in all services shall be structured with the welfare of the person served as the central focus. All resources available, including referrals, shall be provided.
D. When providing information to the public about suicide prevention or crisis intervention techniques, it shall be made clear that such techniques are to be used only by persons adequately trained in their use.
E. CommUnity staff and volunteers shall adhere to professional boundaries and/or training and demonstrate a level of competence in dealing with persons served. If the needs of the individual being assisted are beyond the competence of the staff or volunteer, referral to someone with the proper skills shall be done as soon as possible. Neither an employee nor volunteer shall use his/her position at CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank to enhance, either directly or indirectly, his/her other or private employment.
F. All materials prepared or produced by staff and volunteers in carrying out duties shall be considered property of CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank. All information resulting from employment or volunteer relationship with CommUnity remains the protected proprietary information of CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank. This information includes, but is not limited to, confidential client and donor information, originals and copies of documents, files, records, and electronic files including those located on CommUnity property and/or personal equipment.
G. The competence of staff shall be monitored and maintained in accordance with CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank evaluation procedures, as well as any applicable discipline’s licensing and credentialing standards.
H. Staff shall not utilize treatment protocols and/or therapy techniques that are considered experimental.
I. The conduct of studies, research activities, surveys and other tools utilized to measure activities, opinions or responses of participants shall address the requirements of informed consent, risk of assessment and equitable selections of subjects.
J. All marketing information, displays, and brochures shall accurately represent the services being offered.
K. CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank shall ensure that contributions are used in accordance with a donor’s written or expressed verbal intentions if applicable.
L. CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank shall respect confidentiality. Confidentiality and privacy of all persons served and donors shall be preserved. Information released shall be in accordance with state and federal statutes regarding “minimum need to know” guidelines. Records of released information shall be maintained in accordance with state and federal law.
M. In providing services to its clients, CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank shall respect each client’s right to receive services with informed and voluntary consent.