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Victoria Fink is no stranger to serving her community. As a former pastor's wife, she has had experience finding and meeting the needs of those around her. She spoke on Tuesday to the local Kiwanis group about two such organizations that help residents in Vinton.

First, she talked about E.C.H.O. a nonprofit (located next to LaGrange Pharmacy) service organization whose mission is to help families moving with basic household furniture or other basic household needs. The organization has been in Vinton for eight and a half years and operates on roughly $750 each month. It is able to keep its doors open through private donations and ask for a donation from those accepting help.

The doors are open Monday-Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and are operated by volunteers. The current director is Dawn Silver and could answer any questions you might have.

If you have appliances that you would like to donate, rather than take up space in the store, they will add your donation to a list and as soon as someone is in need, they will connect them to you. There is a constant need for towels, bedding, microwaves, vacumes, beds, couches, chairs, recliners and beds.

In two years, the organization has helped 1,200 people. They just tell people to be sure that you have a pickup and people to help you move the items that you have.

Iowa Abundant Life Ministries is the umbrella organization of E.C.H.O. and functions under IALM. IALM is a resource for those in need of temporary housing until they can get on their feet and be able to sign a lease or rental agreement on their own.

They also operate Place of Refuge which is a transitional place for women who have been incarcerated, or who are coming from alcohol or drug rehabilitation, domestic violence situation or need a restart in life. Applications are submitted and upon approval and as space is available women join the program. They offer a safe and peaceful environment, offering spiritual guidance, financial training, assistance filling in work applications and interviewing preparation, and help to build a new support system.

In the last year, nine women have participated in the program and 12 people have been part of the temporary housing program. Three families were helped with utilities and 8 more adults were assisted with car repairs or transportation.

Because the organization is so small, they cannot offer shelter. Often Fink receives calls for women in need of shelter following a domestic abuse situation and she will refer them to WayPoint out of Cedar Rapids. Often women in these situations don't want to leave Vinton, because their support system is in Vinton. Finks works with the women more closely for a longer period of time in this program.

If you would like more information or to make a tax deductible donation toward these efforts, you can visit their website by clicking here.

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