Respite house

Rhonda’s House in DeWitt is now accepting as many as two guests at the same time.

DEWITT — Tammy Schnepel, PhD has been elected to serve as the interim president for the Board of Directors of Life Connections Peer Recovery Services, the board announced this week.

Schnepel, a longtime resident of DeWitt with deep community ties, brings personal experience with recovery and impressive academic and professional credentials to her new leadership role at Life Connections, the organization said.

Schnepel worked as a college professor, counselor, and social worker for many years and is currently employed as a Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist for the Area Substance Abuse Council in Jackson County.

Schnepel earned a master’s degree in criminal justice and a doctorate in psychology. She has served on the Board of Directors of Life Connections since 2018.

Life Connections also announced that Doors to Wellbeing, a federally funded National Consumer Technical Assistance Center that assists peer-run mental health organizations across the United States, recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Life Connections to provide technical assistance and strategic planning services. Doors to Wellbeing will work with Schnepel and the Board of Directors to help the organization achieve financial and organizational sustainability.

Life Connections, which operates Iowa’s first and only peer-run crisis respite center, recently implemented creative service adaptations to meet the needs of constituents during the COVID-19 public health crisis. In early April, Life Connections temporarily closed its Wellness Center in downtown DeWitt and temporarily shut down Rhonda’s House, Iowa’s only peer-run respite house, located on the campus of Genesis Medical Center. The organization’s Peer Specialists began providing digital peer support groups and wellness services via Zoom and offering one-on-one peer support services on a 24-7 basis via a peer respite support line.

On May 1, 2020, Life Connections reopened the doors to both the Wellness Center and Rhonda’s House. The agency is providing restricted services that comply with the recommendations issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It continues to conduct its digital and 24/7 telephone-based services.

“I am so grateful to have a viable partner with the lived experience and professional knowledge of Dr. Tammy Schnepel,” said Todd Noack, executive director. “These are extraordinary times, when people across Iowa are being traumatized by fear of disease and economic uncertainty. There is a critical need for our peer support services. Life Connections is fortunate to have a Board leader who understands the mental health challenges our community is facing.”

Life Connections will be conducting town hall meetings in the DeWitt region and across Iowa in the summer and fall of 2020 to inform community constituents, elected officials, service providers and people who are in recovery from life disrupting challenges about Life Connections’ peer support, recovery, and wellness services.

Life Connections Peer Recovery Services is a peer-run mental health nonprofit organization based in DeWitt.