The people of CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank are passionate about treating individuals in crisis as valuable human beings. From this passion comes the ability to excel at providing practical help. We are the only crisis intervention agency accredited by International Council for Helplines in the state of Iowa.
CommUnity’s work is fueled by gifts of time, talent, and treasure from local people and organizations. These contributors are inspired by the tangible results achieved by CommUnity:
- Empathy through the telephone, online chat, and text
- Groceries on the kitchen table
- Referrals that help individuals get out of crisis
- Emergency financial support to avoid eviction or loss of utilities
- People who have suffered a loss through a natural disaster have an advocate as they wind through the bureaucracy of disaster recovery
CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank is a volunteer-driven organization that provides immediate and non-judgmental support for individuals facing emotional, food, or financial crisis.
Every individual in our community has support in a time of need.
- Individuals self-identify as in need and self-select for CommUnity services.
- We protect the privacy of the individuals we serve.
- Clients come first – no bureaucratic barriers to delivering support.
- We make the most efficient use of our resources.
- Volunteers are the heart of the organization.
Our Code of Ethics
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.
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.
Nowhere to Turn
It’s 1969 on the University of Iowa campus. Two young freshmen return to their Burge Hall dorm room and find the completely unexpected – their roommate has barricaded the door and attempted suicide. They rush her to care and after a long and scary night, are sent home knowing she is going to be physically okay. But in the following days, as the two women deal with both their roommate’s and their own emotional upheaval, they learn there are simply no resources available to help them.
That experience launched a campaign of advocacy, for those two young women and on behalf of all University of Iowa students, to establish support services for others in crisis. The two women began knocking on doors and by 1970, had found an ally in Verne Kelley, the Community Mental Health Center’s director at that time. With Mr. Kelley’s help, these students established what would become The Crisis Center of Johnson County, and later 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 hours a day, 365 days a year 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 we serve has grown in the past 40 years.
A small food pantry was added in 1978 in response to client needs. Clothing and household items became available through vouchers from Goodwill and Crowded Closet in 1983.
Throughout the 1980’s, our staff and volunteers worked to expand our suicide prevention services and began offering support for survivors of a suicide loss. Services were developed to respond to the needs of transients and the homeless.
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, we have added suicide prevention training and crisis incident stress management services.
While CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank, formerly the Crisis Center, 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.
We 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 the 1993 floods, the tornado in 2006, and flooding in June 2008.
In 2019, we changed our name to reflect this commitment to serving our community.
Helping Us Help Others
True to our philosophy of people helping people, throughout the past five decades CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank has relied on the community to make its services possible. More than 250 volunteers assist a small paid staff with service delivery. A majority of CommUnity’s budget comes from the financial support of individuals, organizations, churches, and businesses. Nearly 75% of the Food Bank’s distributions are donated.