Extraordinary Adversity to an Extraordinary Destiny: First Public Reveal

Published: Oct 30, 2018 12:35:13 PM
Topics: Community

An unconventional duo is making an impact in the local community as co-chairs of the MICAH House capital campaign, Shelter Reimagined. The father and college-age daughter team, Josh Guttau and Shianne Harvey-Guttau, have recently shared their story publicly to help end the cycle of homelessness.

At the age of 13, Josh and wife, Shelly Guttau, received Shianne into their home as a foster child and later adopted her at the age of 16. The first to graduate high school from her biological family, Shianne was the former captain of her high school cheerleading team and a national honor student. She recently earned an associate’s degree in psychology from Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) Summa Cum Laude and plans to continue her education by achieving a master’s degree in counseling services. 

“The future is hers,” said Josh Guttau, TS Banking Group CEO. “But, for Shianne, her future wasn’t always bright. It was filled with hurt, trauma, and disappointment. Words like homeless, hunger, hurt, and helpless were common themes in her early years.”

In late 2017 a direct connection to MICAH House was discovered. Shianne, had lived at MICAH House not once, but twice.

“To understand my story I think it’s important to understand where I came from which is understanding my parents,” said Shianne. “Both my parents came from homes where they had no support and they didn’t have a lot of love.”

Shianne’s parents did not finish high school, faced a teen pregnancy and were married soon after, then sometime later turned toward drugs and alcohol. Shianne was the second oldest of nine children. Her parents were unable to hold down jobs, and as a result, were not able to live in one place for a long period of time. Additionally, they were evicted from multiple houses and even had a house burn down. 

“Life was hard for my family when I was growing up. It seemed like nothing ever went right for us. I remember living in places like cars, motels and people’s houses just for a couple nights. We also stayed in shelters a few times, including MICAH House,” said Shianne. 

Shianne recalls her parents struggle with substance abuse and her dad being in prison for a while. Due to this, Shianne and her siblings were in and out of school, in between physical addresses, and often, not always all together. 

MICAH House is a unique shelter in which families are allowed to remain together during their stay. The families are also provided an array of services including nutritious meals, counseling resources, an on-site health clinic and a trauma-informed (BUDDY) play program.

As part of her college courses at IWCC, Shianne volunteered for a semester at MICAH House and saw first-hand the support and love offered to on-site residents. She hopes to continue helping others with a career in counseling.

Experiencing the shelter as a child and later as an adult, Shianne knows now what MICAH House can offer. And if applied, how stories for many families can look different.

“These things were a given for me growing up. These building blocks are critical in a child’s journey to a healthy self-esteem and self-actualization,” shared Josh. “Being part of this campaign is the evidence that a person has to have the basics of safety, food, love, protection before they can move on and aspire to be extraordinary, and be in a situation that Shianne is in today.”

The campaign goal for MICAH House Shelter Reimagined is to raise $3.6 million by the end of the year. TS Bank is grateful to be part of the MICAH House Shelter Reimagined campaign with a $25,000 pledge. 

The capital campaign’s intent is to increase the capacity of MICAH House while partnering with four other nonprofits to serve vulnerable populations. Partnerships will include: All Care Health Center, Heartland Family Service, Women’s Center for Advancement (WCA) and Youth Emergency Services (YES).

“After seeing her life transform first hand and being an ordinary child of facing extraordinary adversity, to now living out the first chapters of an extraordinary destiny, I have begun to reflect on Shelter Reimagined,” stated Josh.

“If we don’t give to things like this campaign, what extraordinary destinies will not occur? There are other Shianne’s out there, who need this to move on and become extraordinary. This is our story, primarily Shianne’s story. Shelly and I have had the opportunity to come along for the ride.”


For more information about Shelter Reimagined and donor opportunities, please visit www.themicahhouse.org/shelter-reimagined.

Written by Kelsey Stupfell

Director of Community Reinvestment