Mainstream Living

Organization History

Mainstream Living was founded in 1975 by a group of parents who wanted community living options for their children with intellectual disabilities. At that time, if a family could no longer maintain their child at home, the only choice was to place the child in a state institution or large Intermediate Care Facility elsewhere in the state. Below is a brief timeline of our organization:


Mainstream Living Inc. is incorporated on July 1. Developmental Center is started. Paulette Simmons is hired as Executive Director.


Mainstream Living opens its first home, serving six children with intellectual disabilities in Story County.


The Story County Developmental Center and Mainstream form a partnership with common Board of Directors and Executive Director. Reno Berg is hired as Executive Director. The first adult home opens, serving seven people with intellectual disabilities. The first adult home (RCF-MR) opens for seven people with intellectual disabilities.


The organization expands to Des Moines, opening a home serving six children on Kingman Blvd. A second children's home opens in 1984.


The Supervised Living Apartment (SLA) program, Mainstream's first mental health program, opens in Des Moines. Initially serving 24 adults, this program eventually expands to 94 persons in 1988.


In addition to the Ames office, a corporate office in Des Moines opens due to an increase in the number of persons served in Polk County.


A Residential Care Facility for Persons with Mental Illness (RCF-PMI) opens in Des Moines.


Mainstream purchased the first fleet of 12 passenger vans for group homes. First CARF accreditation, with Mainstream being awarded 3 year accreditations every year since, which is the highest level of accreditation possible.


Mainstream worked closely with Polk County Health services and their initiative to move a number of people directly out of Woodward State Hospital School and return to their community in more normalized and home-like settings.

The first 5 person Residential Care Facility for persons with mental retardation (RCF-MR) under the MR Waiver rules, opened in Urbandale on 4/16/90, followed by two more homes in western suburbs.

A Residential Care Facility for persons with mental retardation (RCF-MR) open in Dallas County.


Three RCF's-MR homes open in Ankeny. One home was remodeled to meet accessibility needs.


Three five-person RCF's-MR open in Des Moines area, two were remodeled to meet accessibility needs. 


The Home- and Community-Based Services are started in Polk county in October, expand to Story county later that year. First persons with intellectual disabilites served through HCBS services in Polk County. Five HCBS homes opened, moving a number of people directly out of Woodward State Hospital School.

Des Moines office flooded with over four feet of water from the Des Moines River pouring through the office. Many homes were without water and accessible drinking water for weeks.


The RCF-PMI closes in Des Moines, with members transferred to the Supported Living Apartments and new Supported Community Living (SCL) program.


Mainstream completes the conversion of all RCF's-MR to HCBS homes.


Mainstream partners with Progress Industries, the RAINBOW Center, and the Homestead to establish Community Support Advocates (CSA), a pilot program of new funding methods in Polk County.


Story County Development Center and Mainstream Living merge

The last children's group home closes.


A new 8-person RCF-PMI opens in Des Moines, which has expanded to a current capacity of 11 members.


Mainstream adds a Payee Departments, and member financial services are developed with records computerized and networked.


The first Warren County HCBS sites open.


Mainstream Education and Learning Center (MELC) opens, with first vocational programs in Polk County. Mainstream Education and Learning Center hires its first job developers and job coaches.


Mainstream starts Workstream, a for-profit company affiliated with a national call center program, to provide training and competitive employment in the call center industry.


Aspen House in Ames opens to serve adults with high medical needs (medically fragile). It is the first of its kind in the State of Iowa.


The Transition Age Youth (TAY) Program begins in Des Moines at the SLA's and later on reside in residential homes for 3-5 persons. 


Baker, a second home for adults with high medical needs is opened in Des Moines. Onyx house opens in Ames to serve mixed medically fragile and non-medically fragile in a small setting.


Mainstream starts a sensory focused day habilitation program in Ames, focused on the principles of Snozelen.



Reno Berg retires as President/CEO of Mainstream Living, Inc. Mainstream starts a member-driven day habilitation program in Ames - ACE (Advocacy, Connection, and Empowerment).

Board of Directors names Bill Vaughn as President/CEO of Mainstream Living, Inc.


The third medically fragile home (Knapp House) opens in West Des Moines. 


Mainstream Living celebrates 40 years of service.  

Mainstream Living rebrands and unviels a new logo and look.  

The Mainstream Employment and Learning Center (MELC) officially changes its name to "Center." 


Cheville House in Ames opens.  


© 2024 Mainstream Living, Inc.