Finding groups that help in Des Moines Finding groups that help in Des Moines | Around Des Moines

Finding groups that help in Des Moines

by Sandy Renshaw on January 26, 2008

Have you ever needed to find a support group or helping agency and didn’t know where to start? This list might help.

Iowa 2-1-1 is an extensive searchable information and referral database for health and social service and funded by the Iowa Department of Human Services.

In a list of New Year’s resolutions no one has unplanned pregnancy at the top, but here are some of Des Moines’ options for family planning, pregnancy, and adoption:

Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa provides education and services related to birth control, pregnancy and sexual health.

A New Beginning is a Catholic Charities organization providing free pregnancy options counseling.

Ruth Harbor is a Christ-centered home for young women dealing with unplanned pregnancy.

For a families in varying degrees of distress there are many options.

Children & Families of Iowa provides a variety of services in support of distressed families including foster care and adoptions, family-centered counseling, substance abuse programs for teens, child care programs and referrals, and other therapies.

Lutheran Services in Iowa has services available for adoption, early childhood, home healthcare, refugee resettlement, residential treatment, disability services, and family services. Some of these services are offered jointly with Catholic Charities.

The Family Violence Center provides emergency safe shelter and support for victims of domestic violence and their children.

Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services offers crisis intervention and ongoing support services to victims of violent crimes.

On a happier note for a families operating with normal stresses there are other options.

Parenting Monthly is a site linking local and national websites for everything from family communication, education, public television, YMCA, Young Women’s Resource Center, Visiting Nurse Services, resources for dads, and many other topics. Contacts but no links for 27 other local groups are found elsewhere.

The La Leche League of Des Moines Iowa helps mothers and mothers-to-be with all aspects of breastfeeding.

Young women in their adolescent transition are supported in particular by the Young Women’s Resource Center.

Everyone loves to eat and the Des Moines area has services for all families and for families with more pressing needs. Everyone can participate in the first of these programs.

WHO-TV has recently run a story on Angel Food Ministries – a Georgia based food ministry dedicated to relief of hunger throughout the United States. The local group works from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and is available to everyone, not just those in need. The Des Moines Register has also provided this story.

For those with greater need the Des Moines Area Religious Council has food pantries at sites all across the metro.

The City of Des Moines has a site linking the food pantries and listing other low-income services.

The stress of a homeless individual or family in Des Moines in the winter would be hard for any of us to imagine. My nephew from the Bay Area of California came to Drake. Twenty-five years ago in his first winter in Des Moines he told my sister, “You could die in the middle of city if you didn’t have shelter.” Des Moines has shelter.

Hope Ministries is a Christ-centered ministry for homeless, hungry, and hurting. They provide food, shelter, clothes and furnishings for men, women and children, as well as an addiction recovery center and transitional living services.

Churches United Shelter provides shelter services for homeless adults.

For families The Home Connections sponsors transitional housing and supportive services for homeless families.

The New Directions Shelter gives emergency shelter for homeless women with children.

St. Joseph Emergency Family Center one of the arms of Catholic Charities provides emergency shelter for up to five homeless families with each family living together.

Youth Emergency Services & Services provides emergency shelter for youths 10-17, crisis nursery and counseling.

In the longer term other groups support families in their quest for stable housing.

Refugee Resettlement Services is a joint venture of Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services with a mission to resettle refugees and their families.

Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity is our branch of the international non-profit Christian housing ministry founded in 1976 and providing home ownership opportunities for qualified low-income families. Habitat for Humanity has an interesting history.

Home, Inc. is a non-profit organization helping low income families improve their housing situations by counseling, advocacy and legal assistance directed toward ownership or renting.

Iowa ACORN was featured on WHO-TV. You can find the national organization, but the local web site has not yet been activated. Nonetheless they are active, and they are located at 2000 Walker St., Suite L and their phone number is 263-4315.

As sincere and well-intentioned as we all might be, sometimes we manage to get into trouble anyway. Imagine! Here are several groups for people dealing with addiction. The following 4 groups are financially self-supporting and decline outside contributions.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a site featuring local contacts and meeting schedules for those desiring a 12 Step approach to recovery from alcoholism.

Al-Anon and Al-Ateen is a site with local contacts and meeting schedules for families desiring a 12 Step approach to dealing with alcoholism in a family member or friend.

Overeaters Anonymous is a site with local contacts, meeting schedules, and information for those desiring a 12 Step approach to recovery from overeating.

Gamblers Anonymous is a site with a meeting schedule for those desiring a 12 Step approach to recovery from gambling addiction.

Other groups and programs assist with addiction problems.

The Iowa Gambling Prevention and Treatment Program is a program for problem gamblers offered through the State of Iowa Department of Public Health.

Teen Challenge of the Midlands is a Christ-based approach to curing additions in those 18 and older. You can see the men’s facility up on the hill as you pass by Colfax on I-80.

House of Mercy is the Mercy Hospital-based transitional housing and clinical services for parenting women with addiction.

In the area of mental health

NAMI, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has an Iowa Branch with support groups, classes, speakers, and many other resources. is dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness and support in Iowa and Des Moines while the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to the issues surrounding suicide.

In case you hadn’t noticed, there is no getting around this aging business.

Be sure to check out Aging Resources of Central Iowa, a comprehensive set of links and lists of resources available to older Iowans. It is a wonderful site. It lists hundreds of resources and activities supporting the normal process of aging. Some may need help searching for services since there are lots of options and drop down menus.

For those encountering difficulty with two common disorders of age there are Alzheimer’s support groups and educational resources are available through the Greater Iowa Chapter of alzheimer’s association and there are Parkinson support groups in Iowa.

Are you looking for a support group or education on a specific disease or condition?

ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease? This support group is for those affect by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and includes links to the national website.

Amanda the Panda works to restore grieving children and families back into the mainstream of their lives supported, validated, encouraged and empowered to go on.

The Source offers support and contacts for families affected by autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive development disorders.

The Iowa Department for the Blind has a website.

Cancer is behind heart disease as the primary disease of Americans but here is an excellent list of online resources and links about cancer from Mercy Medical.

The American Cancer Society has a local office and phone (8364 Hickman Ste D, (515)253-0147) along with regular activities but has no local website.

This celiac disease site provides on-line support for people with celiac disease and a local support chapter of R.O.C.K. – Raising Our Celia Kids). Des Moines does not have a chapter in the Celiac Disease Foundation.

For cerebral palsy the State of Iowa with its site 4 My Child has resources available to families affected by cerebral palsy and many other disabilites.

Childserve in Johnston serves children with special health needs.

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America shows Iowa and Des Moines activities and help for patients and families of those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and is dedicated to finding a cure for both.

The Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. is a health system sponsored site for education, services, and support for diabetics and families.

Up with Down is a Des Moines group affiliated with the National Down Syndrome Society.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome lists resources available in Iowa for families affected by fetal alcohol syndrome.

Unfortunately there are no fibromyalgia support groups with web presence within 100 miles of Des Moines; however, Mercy Medical has an excellent fibromyalgia educational site.

The Huntington’s Disease Society of America seeks to improve the lives of people with Huntington’s disease and their families. They meet locally.

Iowa Lyme Disease Network is an educational resource for medical providers and the public.

American Lung Association of Iowa has support groups and information for those affected by a variety of abnormal lung conditions.

Lupus Foundation of America, Inc. has an email address to the local chapter and access to information about lupus.

You can also find a good list of links to community health charities including many already cited.

Mercy Medical Center has a variety of risk prevention programs available.

The Community Partners of the United Way of Central Iowa provides an interesting list of links to community partners, some of which might be useful.

Don’t forget this site. Iowa 2-1-1 is an extensive searchable information and referral database for health and social service and funded by the Iowa Department of Human Services.

You don’t have to go far in Des Moines to recognize that we understand the meaning of community. Be proud. Take credit for your part. There is a lot of help available in our community.

jim.jpg Guest Writer: James G. Lindberg (Jim) is the Purple Wren’s sweetie and is a visiting chemistry professor at Grinnell College and retired from Drake University.

[tags] Iowa, Des Moines, Central Iowa News, Social Services, Health Education, Support Groups [/tags]

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Schluckebier, Executive Director CSA January 29, 2008 at 4:30 pm

There are serveral active patient support chapters of Celiac Sprue Association in Iowa. CSA, the largest non-profit celiac support organization in the US, was founded in Iowa, with headquarters in West DesMoines for many years before moving to Omaha. The DesMoines area chapter is Chapter #114. The local chapter website is

ammy100 July 15, 2008 at 12:11 am

Be proud. Take credit for your part. There is a lot of help available in our community.that we need ..
Addiction Recovery Iowa

jackspar August 2, 2008 at 9:50 am

Helping hands are better than praying lips. I think you would catch my words..


Iowa Treatment Centers

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