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UDMO faces reduction in operations, furloughs

Loss of grant funding is cited as the reason for reductions

Despite serving hundreds of residents throughout the region, Upper Des Moines Opportunity is facing upcoming furloughs and a reduction in hours of local operation.

The local cutbacks are the result of federal grant shrinkage due to census poverty numbers in 2020, as well as the increased cost and greater demand for services.

“It’s not the way you want things to go,” said Alisa Schlief, UDMO Family and Community Services director, speaking about the impact on Hamilton and all of the counties the agency services.

“UDMO experienced a decrease in Community Service Block Grant (CSBG) funding as a result of lower poverty rates across the state in 2020,” said Julie Edwards, executive director of UDMO. “This prompted the strategic planning and implementation of these changes.”

Residents who utilize UDMO will still be able to access services including the food pantry, baby items, birthday bags, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and crisis energy programs, but will need to speak with staff during the new hours of operation which are now 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

The weeks of June 24-28, July 15-19, and Aug. 19-23 will be furloughs for the two full-time and one part-time staff members, and services will not be available during this time to residents.

According to Schlief, the reduced hours are expected to continue through the end of 2024 and into the new year.

These furloughs and reduced hours will impact “pretty much across all offices,” Schlief said.

“UDMO is dedicated to continuing to provide services to the families of Webster County,” said Schlief. “We came to the decision to do the weeks of furlough during the summer as it has been a little slower. UDMO wanted to make sure there was still a presence in each of our counties so that we can best serve the families in all of our communities.”

UDMO is a non-profit organization and one of 16 community action agencies in Iowa that is supported not only by financial donations and donations of goods, but also by local, state and federal grants which support individuals and families in need.

“UDMO also applied for grants and receives financial support from the communities we serve from county boards of supervisors, city councils, churches, philanthropic groups, civic groups, corporations, small business owners, and private individuals,” said Schlief.

UDMO serves Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Hamilton, Humboldt, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, Pocahontas, Webster and Wright counties.

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