Our history

From a dream to reality: In 1974 a vision was conceived to create a supportive community for disabled adults. This timeline captures the key milestones in the journey of fulfilling the dream of Village Northwest Unlimited from its conception to the generous gift of land and the formation of the Board of Directors.

History of the Village

  1. Conception of the Idea November 1974

    Bob Hoogeveen, Sheldon High School principal, visits Handicap Village in Clear Lake, Iowa, sparking the idea for Village Northwest Unlimited.

  2. Organizing the Vision Late November 1974

    Hoogeveen contacts Dr. Ken Fertig, president of the Sheldon Industrial Development Corporation, to share his vision. They organize a trip to Clear Lake with ten community leaders.

  3. Community Awakening Late November 1974

    Sheldon leaders return from Clear Lake emotionally moved, shifting focus from economic development to humanitarian causes. The first organized meeting is held at Dr. and Mrs. Ken Fertig's home.

  4. Fundraising Initiatives 1974-1975

    The Village fundraising push begins, starting with a $5,000 donation from the Salsbury Foundation. Trips to Clear Lake continue, involving more Sheldon residents in the project.

  5. Board of Directors Selected February 1975

    Seven individuals, including Dr. Ken Fertig, Dr. Fred Kushner, Rev. Donald Loots, Thomas J. Whorley, Richard A. Schneider, Ronald Rensink, and James Short, are selected as the initial Board of Directors.

  6. Leadership Appointed February 1975

    Bob Hoogeveen is appointed as Project Director, receiving a year's leave of absence from his position as high school principal.

  7. Press Conferences 1975

    Sheldon Ad Hoc Committee, S.L.D.C., and Don Boyer organize press conferences to announce the $2.5 million project for mentally and physically disabled adults.

  8. Community Engagement 1975

    Hundreds of volunteers respond positively, actively participating in the project. Press conferences with area media spread the word throughout the four-county area.

  9. Land Acquisition Focus 1975

    The Ad Hoc Committee focuses on acquiring land for the Village. A search leads to the ideal plot, 27 acres of farmland owned by retired farmer Dick Wansink.

  10. Wansink's Gift of 27 Acres Late 1975

    Hoogeveen and Fertig approach Dick Wansink, who initially refuses to sell but surprises them by offering to gift the 27 acres for the Village.

  11. Divine Intervention Late 1975

    Wansink's generous gift confirms divine guidance for the project. The 27 acres become the future campus of Handicap Village of Northwest Iowa.

  12. Expansion of Board Post 1975

    Plans are made to add five additional board members from a larger area.

  13. Hoogeveen's Role Post 1975

    After completing his year's leave, Bob Hoogeveen resigns as high school principal and becomes the Executive Director of Handicap Village of Northwest Iowa.