Pella Chronicle


February 7, 2012

Braun reflects back on his last 25 years in Pella, COC

Pella — For the past 25 years, Rod Braun, Executive Director of the Christian Opportunity Center, says time has flown by.

The Christian Opportunity Center (COC) is a public benefit corporation that supports more than 250 people with disabilities. COC prides itself on its caring and quality staff and its responsiveness to the needs and wants of people with disabilities. For 40 years, COC has been working to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

In a recent newsletter, Braun, originally from Oregon, reflects that ‘it certainly doesn’t seem like 25 years, but calendars don’t lie’.


The beginning

Looking back, Braun remembers that he wasn’t all that interested in making the move to the Pella facility back in 1987.

“I had know the prior director, Art Ruiter,  though a state organization,” Braun said. “We served on committees together and at that time I worked for an organization based out of Nebraska with services in Des Moines and Osceola. I had been in that job, in Des Moines for about 4 years. I had seen in a newsletter (in 1986) where Art had posted a position called director of operations - sort of an associate director position.”

In the fall of ‘86 Braun and Ruiter shared a ride to Waterloo for a committee meeting in which both were involved in.

“We met and on the way up I asked him if he ever filled that position,” Braun remembers. “He said ‘no’, are you interested? I said no, I don’t think so. Art  asked if he could at least send me some information about the job and I said sure. He sent me some information about a week later. He called and asked if I had a chance to look it over.  I told him yes and he asked me if I would be interested in interview with human resources.”

Braun again thought to himself and couldn’t really convince himself that he was truly interested in the position.

“I told Art that I didn’t really think I was really interested,” Braun said. “But he insisted that there was no obligation and ‘just come and visit’. I came on a Saturday and remember I had hurt my back and was in pain the whole time of the two-hour interview. A week later, Art called me back and asked if I could come back and interview with the board of directors. I told him it seems we are moving awful fast and I wasn’t so sure I was really interested.”

Ruiter wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer though.

“Once again, with his famous line, Art said ‘just come meet with them’,” Braun said. “I said I would come and before I left that night they had offered me a contract for director of operations. This was in November of 1986 and so I started Jan. 13, 1987.”

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