Opportunity Living
Our Mission
"Providing Special Persons
Opportunities for Living"

Historical Perspective

Opportunity Living was started back in 1987 during a time when the state of Iowa was in the heart of an agricultural crisis. Rural areas of Iowa were losing farmers and small businesses, while the resultant unemployment caused many people to move to the metro areas for jobs. Included in the small business losses for Lake City was its two farm implement dealerships. The problem, for those who wanted to stay, was clear. How do you stem the tide, get some more employment, and raise the spirits of the people? Then one day, a group of citizens came up with an idea. Why not start an organization to house and serve people with special needs? After all there is a universal truth, when you help others, you also help yourself and helping others always lifts the human spirit. This was the philosophy that drove a group of local citizens to explore the possibilities, which led to the formation of a not-for-profit corporation and the original funding drive. An Executive Director was hired and block grants were secured. In April of 1989, the first residential home was completed and the first clients moved in. The original state licenses were all for ICF/MR level of service and integration of the clients into the social and economic fabric of Lake City was a priority. Hence, the homes were located in residential areas of the community, instead of in a campus setting. By May of 1991, six group homes, each housing 8 people, had been completed throughout Lake City.  In November of 1988, the empty John Deere Implement building, located on the east edge of the community, was purchased to house the day programming and activity center. The community of Lake City was in need of a community recreation center, so through fundraising and a coalition with the local school system the implement building was remodeled to include a gymnasium and an area for exercise equipment. Later additions provided an indoor pool and hot tub, all of which are available for public use, when not being utilized by the clients of Opportunity Living. The activity center, also known as Opportunity Acres, was formally dedicated in November, 1990, after the completion of the swimming pool addition. In September of 1991, Opportunity Living secured a Certificate of Need from the state of Iowa for 16 ICF/MR clients in the county seat community of Rockwell City. After a fundraising drive, several grants were procured, and two group homes were built and another residential home was purchased and remodeled, to accommodate the 16 clients. In February of 1993 all the homes in Rockwell City were up and operating. The Rockwell City clients are served by the activity center in Lake City. Today Opportunity Living serves 68 ICF/ID (today Mental Retardation MR has been changed to Intellectual Disability ID) clients, and is licensed to serve HCBS and Brain Injury clients. (Please see Client Services link.)


The Logo

This distinctive logo, adopted in 1990, was created by Darren Graham when he was a Sophomore in the Southern Cal School System. Darren said this about the design, "I wanted to use the initials O and L in the design and at the same time show the loving care which the clients receive from staff members. I used the world as the O since Opportunity Living is the world for the residents. I formed an L using the hands and outstretched arm to indicate the care which clients receive from staff members. The lower hand is positioned to represent the sure, ever present support which staff members provide the clients." This logo is the only logo ever used by Opportunity Living and has been used in publications, on letterhead and signs since 1990.


Friendship Exchange

A unique program called Friendship Exchange has been developed in Lake City, pairing the six Opportunity Living houses with grades Kindergarten through five of South Central Calhoun Schools. The Opportunity Living home and grade with which it is paired exchange cards and gifts and share activities. This program has been successful in breaking down barriers of ignorance and fear, replacing them with fun and awareness of individual worth. Friendship Exchange started in 1989.



Clients live in a ranch-style house which has from four to eight bedrooms. Every client has a private bedroom, and shares a bathroom with one other person. Tub rooms provide modern shower and whirlpool fixtures. A living/dining room area at the front of each house provides space for family dining and socializing. Each home has a cook as well as staff persons providing direct care and leisure activities. Leisure-time activities are developed by the recreation department and each home has a recreation assistant who knows the clients and coordinates activities which are appropriate for them. Swimming, music, motor activities, shopping, fishing, crafts, church activities, school activities, and Friendship Exchange, a program with Southern Cal elementary schools, are just a few of the leisure activities. All transportation between the homes, activity center, and activities is done by buses and vans adapted and equipped for use by people with disabilities.


Recreation Center

Please see the Recreation Center page  

Retail Store

Please see the Retail Store page for details on Celebrations to Go!

A Client Home in Lake City