Organization aids homeless

Izzie Hayes/Staff Writer

For most Iowans, the holiday season means big meals, time with family and receiving everything on their gift lists, but for the poor and homeless in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo community, it is just another harsh reminder of what they cannot receive.

The Eye of the Needle in downtown Waterloo gives the homeless in this community a chance to change that. Patricia King started this non-profit organization in November of 2006, at first operating out of her home, and each year since she opened, the amount of people coming to the Eye of the Needle doubles from last year’s amount. This year alone she has helped about 2,100 people.

They provide basic need items to the people that come through: everything from beds to buying a work uniform for the people that come through and want to work but do not have the funds to purchase a uniform on their own. King operates out of the seventh floor of the First National Building at 607 Sycamore Street. She serves everyone from the homeless, to people that have had their hours cut and just cannot make ends meet. The cost of her services is free to everyone that needs her help. The only requirements are minimal.

“The people do have to fill out an application with their Social Security number. The things they need to get right then, they get, and the other things they need to put on the application, and we will notify them when we receive it,” King said.

Running an organization completely on donations and grants can be a challenge, especially when they run low on certain things. King applies for grants with different organizations to help her pay the rent for her space in the building, and she still chips in a portion of her own money to cover all of the costs. However, King does her best to give the people on the receiving end of the organization the freedom to live their lives as if they are not economically struggling.

“We try to give people the freedom to do what they want to do,” King said.

With a whopping number of 24,000 people in Iowa alone that are considered homeless, having the freedom to eat when one wants or to turn on the tap and get a glass of water are taken for granted. The people that come through The Eye of the Needle are grateful for the help in getting back on their feet.

Over last decades, there has been a war going on in Burma, which is sandwiched between China and India. There are thousands of refugees that come to the United States and end up in our community.

“There was a bunch of Burmese people that came through and gave back after they had received. They brought back baby food and strollers and were so grateful for our help,” King said.

It is not hard to give, especially during this time of the year. It seems that everyone has more than what is really necessary. King needs a few things for the holidays: blankets, non-perishable foods with easy open tops, kids clothing and larger sizes also.

“People are always welcome to come and visit. You can come and see what you have contributed,” King said.

The Eye of the Needle
607 Sycamore Street Waterloo, (319) 215-6151

Class of 2014

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