SIBLEY—Two years ago, Josh Tangeman was a client of ATLAS of Osceola County, seeking mentorship and support during a difficult time in his life.
His faith grew over that span and the 44-year-old recently walked through ATLAS’s doors in Sibley as the organization’s new director.
“Through all the brokenness and mess in my life, coming to know Christ and watching that relationship with Him unfold and build, He’s laid upon my heart a love of people and to help people,” Tangeman said.
ATLAS, which stands for “Attaining Truth, Love and Self-Control,” is a faith-based nonprofit organization with 15 locations, including five in N’West Iowa. The organization provides support to those who need it with no questions asked. Staff are available to sit down and talk, and ATLAS of Osceola County also offers a mentoring program where people can be paired with someone in the community to build one-on-one relationships with a role model.
Tangeman replaced longtime director Clark Haken, who served as ATLAS of Osceola County’s director since it started in 2007. ATLAS board president Bill Boer said the board considered three qualified applicants, but prayer guided them each to choose Tangeman as the new director.
“When we got together to talk, everybody was all of the same mindset that we needed to offer it to Josh,” Boer said. “He’s really about wanting to see lives changed. I think that’s something that comes out loud and clear, at least it did to the board. And that’s what ATLAS is about, just walking alongside people and helping them grow and change.”
Helping people and leading through ATLAS is a new path for Tangeman, who previously worked as a truck driver and mechanic but rarely if ever as a leader in any faith circles.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s one that I, for whatever reason, have an overwhelming sense of peace and trust in God,” he said.
That sense of peace is something he’s chased for most of his life. As a young man, Tangeman struggled with alcoholism and depression, which at one time led to him and his wife being separated. Those struggles, he said, were born from feeling a void in his life and struggling to fill it with the wrong things.
“Everybody has a God-shaped hole in them and there’s only one thing that fills that and that’s God,” he said. “I tried to fill it with many other things. It just wasn’t working anymore.
“It got to the point where I’ve exhausted every other option and I needed to find something that’s going to bring me peace. We can find happiness in this world but you only find joy in the Lord.”
Tangeman grew up in the church but said he never felt a “close relationship” to it. He sought help from organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups, but never from the church.
Then five years ago, a growing relationship with a local pastor opened his eyes to what a relationship with Christ could bring. Tangeman started attending the Celebrate Community Church in Sioux Falls, SD, where he said other members “poured into me and supported me.”
“It was really through working with them, I just kind of started seeing a change of heart and started developing a love for people and wanting to help,” he said.
It’s around that time he started visiting ATLAS. Tangeman turned to ATLAS when he thought he needed a kind of support other groups he was involved with previously could not provide, particularly support from a faith perspective. One of the things that stood out to Tangeman about ATLAS when he walked through the doors was he could be accepted just as he was.
“There’s such a need in our world and our communities for a place for people to go to just be loved and to help the hurting,” he said.
“A lot of people may not be as comfortable walking into a church. I just love the fact that there is an organization like ATLAS that is there for any struggle that you’re going through, for whatever it is in life.”
Although he is just a few weeks into the role, Tangeman hopes to further ATLAS’s mission of helping the hurt by making sure people know it is there if they ever need it.
To that end, ATLAS of Osceola County is adding extra hours when Tangeman will be available to meet with people. He will be available 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and 1-9 p.m. Wednesday at the location on 955 Second Ave. in Sibley.
The office is open and staffed 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Boer said the additional hours on Wednesday are a move to try and make ATLAS services available to people who cannot visit during the regular workday.
Besides extending the hours of operation, Tangeman hopes to increase ATLAS’s visibility in the community through furthering partnerships with churches throughout the county. However, for the near future he said his focus will be to continue doing what ATLAS has been doing for 13 years by meeting people and getting to know them and their individual needs.
“I just want people to know that there are people here that care and can share that with you that you matter and walk alongside you,” Tangeman said. “Sometimes that’s all it takes is just some encouragement to stay on your feet and stay motivated and get on the right path.”