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Vincent, Iowa, Emergency Shelter Awarded National Grant to Fund Expansion

Aug 11, 2021
Photo of Anthony Peck (nominator), Ashley Vaala (grant recipient), and Michelle Hilliker of Royal Neighbors
Shown above from left to right, Anthony Peck, nominator, Ashley Vaala, Executive Director of Lotus Community Project, and Michelle Hilliker from Royal Neighbors of America.

Rock Island, Ill. (Aug. 11, 2021) – Royal Neighbors of America, one of the largest and first women-led insurance organizations in the US, located in Rock Island, Ill., has announced that Ashley Vaala, executive director of the Lotus Community Project, Vincent, Iowa, has been presented with one of ten Nation of Neighbors℠ empowerment awards and grants presented nationwide. In addition to the award, she received a $10,000 grant for her organization.

With 90 miles to the nearest women with children emergency shelter, The Lotus Community Project has served 325 women and children facing homelessness in just over two years. “It was humbling to learn I had been nominated to receive this empowerment award and grant,” says Ms. Vaala. “The community has really embraced and empowered my mission to serve and desire to help build dreams.” According to Webster County statistics, the estimated ratio of families seeking affordable housing to the number of units available is 5:1.

Royal Neighbors’ Regional Sales Account Manager Michelle Hilliker presented the award to Ms. Vaala. “For more than 125 years, Royal Neighbors has sought to empower women to make a positive impact in their communities. Ashley Vaala has used creativity and ingenuity, against all odds to make a difference in hundreds of lives. We support her mission to empower women in need to care for their families and start a new chapter.”

The organization plans to use the grant funds to expand their thrift store, “Lotus Treasures.” Direct funds from the store will provide shelter for more families and home supplies as they transition to independence. “In the future, we would also like to provide permanent housing to several families,” Ms. Vaala added.

Nation of Neighbors is a Royal Neighbors of America philanthropy program that awards financial assistance to nominated individuals who have a plan to start or expand a business, organization, program, or nonprofit that helps women and/or girls in their community. To date, nearly $2.5 million has been awarded nationwide.

About Royal Neighbors of America
Royal Neighbors of America is a unique provider of life insurance and annuities whose mission is to protect women financially and empower them to improve their lives, families, and communities. Royal Neighbors was founded in 1895 as a membership organization by nine pioneering women who recognized the need to insure the lives of women and children. In 2020, Royal Neighbors was upgraded to “A Excellent” (3rd highest out of 13) by the AM Best Company for overall financial strength and ability to meet ongoing obligations to certificate holders. For more information about Royal Neighbors of America, visit


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