Earlier this year, Pella Cooperative Electric Association (PCEA) and Forward with Faith received a grant through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Economic Development Grant program to build a women's home for adults living with disabilities. This week, PCEA presented the $360,000 check to Forward with Faith for the project.
"Forward with Faith is an outstanding example of why our cooperative participates in the USDA economic development programs," says Duane Ver Ploeg, PCEA President. "We're proud to be able to bring these funds directly to our communities and enhance lives right here in Marion County."
Duane Ver Ploeg, alongside PCEA Secretary Bryce Arkema and CEO Doug Stewart, awarded the check to Forward with Faith Board President Jerry Fynaardt, Secretary Jill Neil, and board members Lois Branderhorst and Kelly Mitchel on Wednesday, November 10 at the PCEA office.
Forward with Faith is a non-profit organization dedicated to building homes where adults with disabilities can lead lives of dignity as their specialized physical, emotional, and social needs are met.
"The cooperative is honored to provide $60,000 from our revolving loan fund and a $300,000 grant from the USDA totaling $360,000 in funds for this nonprofit," says Ver Ploeg. "They are truly changing lives one by one."
USDA's Rural Economic Development Grant program provides grants to rural utility providers, such as Pella Cooperative Electric. In turn, the money is re-lent at zero percent interest to non-profit organizations within their communities. For non-profits to be approved, the organizations much demonstrate diversification in the local economy, job creation and retention, or upgrading the public infrastructure to improve health, safety, and/or medical care of rural residents.
"These homes wouldn't be possible without the support of our community," says Forward with Faith Board Secretary Jill Neil. "Through PCEA's generous programs, we're able to create a safe haven for these residents with special needs and allow them to continue forward in life, with faith."
Forward with Faith was established in 2016 by Judy and Jerry Fynaardt after their son, Caleb was in an accident. At the time, Caleb had been living in a facility designed for adults with special needs. However, after his accident and recovery time, he needed to be moved home. The Fynaardts were happy to have him home, but soon realized Caleb needed more assistance and an adult life experience with opportunities of his own.
Forward with Faith's initial home for male adults was completed in 2019 through a USDA revolving loan fund loan with PCEA and Southwest REC. Currently, the home houses four men in Pella who receive 24/7 care, tailored to each of their special needs. The women's home is now under construction in Pella and will reflect the same footprint and services as the men's home.
This is PCEA's 14th USDA economic development loan project. The program has sparked over $5 million dollars of additional investment and has helped retain and create over 100 jobs in Pella and surrounding communities. This is the second USDA loan project between the electric cooperative and Forward with Faith. For more information on how to volunteer or donate to Forward with Faith, visit forwardwithfaith.org.