A few years ago, Shawn hit a rough patch. He lost his job. His hearing aid blew out. A new job didn’t pan out. The young girl he was helping to raise passed away. Challenge piled onto challenge, until it was too much. Shawn lost his home in Ankeny, with nowhere to go.

Today, Shawn is disabled and unable to work. He finds a home at downtown Des Moines’ YMCA Supportive Housing Campus. In addition to the sense of security and belonging that comes with his efficiency apartment, the campus provides access to other services including nutrition provided by the Food Bank of Iowa.

“To be honest, I think some of us might go hungry or starve without help from the Food Bank,” Shawn said. “If you guys never did come in here, I think a lot of guys would be in trouble, including myself.”

The Food Bank of Iowa connects the YMCA Supportive Housing Campus with retail food rescue partners at local Fareway and Kum & Go stores. The residents have access to groceries and prepared foods that otherwise would have gone to waste.

“I want to thank the people who donate this food and shake their hand,” Shawn said. “It shows that they’re thinking of others. I’m totally appreciative of those who think of others instead of looking down on them.”

Shawn and his neighbors certainly benefit from their food distributions, but Shawn said he knows it isn’t always easy for someone to acknowledge that they need help.

“I think I refused to see it – sometimes you can’t look at yourself very well,” Shawn said. “Sometimes it takes other people to make you get help. Sometimes it takes tragedy.”


About YMCA Supportive Housing

The YMCA Supportive Housing Campus is a community solution to help eliminate homelessness by providing hope, dignity, and support in the form of permanent supportive housing. This Housing First Model helps people who are homeless (or at-risk of homelessness) move into stable and secure permanent housing supplemented by supportive services. Case management, transportation assistance, food/clothing/hygiene pantries, rental assistance and other services help people meet their basic needs and reach their life goals.

YMCA Supportive Housing Campus is a Food Bank of Iowa partner agency. They receive and distribute food from our Des Moines distribution center, helping their residents meet their food needs as well as their housing needs.


About the artist

Jennifer Leatherby is a painter, illustrator, and digital artist. She lives and works in Des Moines, Iowa where she co-owns Portrait Studio and a feminist t-shirt brand. She is inspired by minimalism and the digital age. Learn more at www.jenleatherby.com.