EP Award Promo

Kluesner finds youths mentors, funds


Volunteering shapes Stacy Kluesner’s life. During the day she works as volunteer coordinator for Orchard Place, and in the evening and on weekends, she volunteers with her husband, Corey; and son, Brady, in their community and at Brady’s school, Des Moines Christian.

Orchard Place, founded in 1886 as the Des Moines Children’s Home, provides services to children with mental and behavioral health problems through three divisions: Orchard Place (a children’s psychiatric residential treatment program), PACE (a juvenile justice program for pre-delinquent and delinquent youths), and the Des Moines Child and Adolescent Guidance Center (a children’s outpatient community mental health center).

Kluesner works in the development department, recruiting volunteers and performing public speaking and fund raising for the organization. She’s also in charge of its Christmas program, soliciting donations for needy families.

“Most, though not all, families [of children treated at Orchard Place] are from lower income brackets,” she said. “We adopt out families with wish lists to businesses and [other organizations]. From November to January, it’s go, go, go.”

Kluesner wishes she could make the public more aware that people in her program need help beyond the holiday season. She hopes that local people and businesses will eventually sponsor families year-round.

Kluesner is originally from Chariton. She got her bachelor’s degree from Northeast Missouri State (now Truman State) University, and is currently working on a master’s degree in rehabilitation administration from Drake University. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Kluesner’s first job was with Progress Industries, a group home for adults and young people with mental retardation.   She worked there for more than eight years. Kluesner then took off a few years to stay at home with her son. Eventually she heard about the position at Orchard Place and joined the organization in September 2002.

“The best part, I think, is getting the opportunity to match kids with mentors, people who truly make a difference in their lives,” Kluesner said.

The toughest part is time management and working with limited financial resources, she said. Kluesner hopes that in the coming years, the business community will recognize the challenge of managing a non-profit organization.

“We use people’s dollars wisely, and we’re getting results for dollars we spend,” she said.

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