A group of Clear Lake people came together in the 1960s with a common purpose: to create a caring home for adults with disabilities as an alternative to state institutions. This nucleus included parents of grown children with disabilities, a pastor, a physical therapist, and others who simply understood the desperate need of families.
On Nov. 21, 1966, Handicap Village was incorporated as a private, non-profit, charitable organization. In 1969, the Village purchased 80 acres of land in Clear Lake, Iowa, with the help of donations from the community. Donald A. Boyer was hired as the first Executive Director in November of that year.
Groundbreaking for the first cottage home took place on Oct. 5, 1970, and Pioneer Cottage opened on Sept. 15, 1971.
A narrative history of the early years of Handicap Village is available in the book "Miracle of the '70s" by Arlene Lashier.
The name changed from "Handicap Village" to "Opportunity Village" in 1994, to better reflect the Village mission.
1966 - Handicap Village incorporated Nov. 21
1969 - Site purchased in Clear Lake in January; D.A. Boyer appointed Executive Director in November
1970 - First cottage ground-breaking on Oct. 5
1971 - First two cottages opened between September 1971 and January 1972
1972 - Village General Store opened in August; first phase of Kinney-Lindstrom Activity Center dedicated in October
1973 - Four more cottages opened between June and November
1974 - Four more cottages opened between March and June
1977 - Completed Kinney-Lindstrom Center dedicated in June
1980 - Ralph Schroeder Group Home in Clear Lake opened in July
1983 - Purchase of Clear Lake 4-plex Supervised Apartment in July; Ralph F. Schroeder appointed Interim Director in November following the death of Don Boyer.
1984 - Gary L. Mrosko appointed Executive Director in July; Mason City Apartment Training program opened in December
1988 - Dedication of Boyer Pool in February; Eagle Grove Group Home purchased in April; first three-year accreditation granted by Commission for Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities in November
1989 - Opening of Monroe House in January and Country Circle Home in April, both in Mason City
1990 - Opening of Garner Work Center in April; construction begins on addition of greenhouse and staff training center to Kinney-Lindstrom Center
1991 - Dedication of Leon Woodard Greenhouse and new staff training center in June
1992 - Opening of Village General Store at new location in Maplewood Plaza in November
1993 - Began offering supported community living and respite care in Clear Lake; Gifts & Greens Shop opened in July
1994 - Name changed from "Handicap Village" to "Opportunity Village"; Wright House purchased to house Mason City Services
1995 - "Building Future Opportunities" Campaign exceeded $1 million goal by 24%, raising money for major improvement projects and expansion of Village Endowment
1996 - 25th anniversary of services celebrated; first Festival of Trees
1997 - CART taxi service started in July
1999 - 30th Annual Benefit Walk in May; new kitchen opened in Kinney-Lindstrom Center
2000 - Spiritual Resources Coordinator position created
2001 - Gary Mrosko retires as Executive Director in December; Village acquires CMI in Webster City, expanding services to that area
2002 - John L. Severtson named Executive Director in January; Village General Store celebrated 30 years of operation in November
2003 - Services began at Lake Mills Home, in cooperation with Lake Mills Opportunities; Elm Street Home opened in Webster City in October to serve persons with profound physical disabilities; Gifts & Greens store changed name to Village Square
2004 - "Keeping the Course" Campaign began, to build addition to Kinney-Lindstrom Center
2005 - Village Store expanded throughout Maplewood Plaza; Village Square closed; groundbreaking held for addition to the Kinney-Lindstrom Center in October
2006 - Ribbon cutting to open new addition to the center in August.
2010 - Northwoods Living in Fort Dodge joins the Village in January; donations for the annual Benefit Walk surpass $100,000 for the first time.
2011 - 40th anniversary of services celebrated; a second location for the annual Benefit Walk is offered in Fort Dodge for the first time; Village General Store begins Sunday hours, to be open seven days a week.