“Fun with Friends” during COVID-19

Zoom Client Fun

Our clients (like everyone right now) are going through some difficult times. Our clients are used to going out in the community, and for some it’s difficult to understand why they aren’t able to go out now. For those that live with roommates, in some homes tensions are increasing due to boredom and not being able to enjoy their regular activities. We’ve started hosting video chat “Fun with Friends” for our clients as a creative way to provide a level of engagement with others outside their homes. Using Zoom video chat, we’ve been able to hold a choir practice, and are hosting 2 sessions of video chat activities per day (at 10:00 am and 4:00 pm) for clients to participate in. Our staff are working hard and trying to be creative and provide engaging activities with our clients during this difficult time.

Our All Abilities Choir also used Zoom to hold their first practice since social distancing began. Jennifer is one of the people who just loves the choir. Jennifer’s mom said, “The choir practice was great! It cheered Jennifer up so much. Thank you.” These little activities can really make a huge difference for our clients, especially right now.

There are all kinds of neat activities our staff can do with clients online, however many clients don’t have access to tablets, laptops, or the technology needed to access these neat resources. Donations of gently used technology devices can be dropped off at LIFEDesigns office and we can get them to clients in need. If you’d like to help by making a cash donation to purchase devices, please indicate “client devices” in a note with your gift.

 

Month of Chocolate Fundraising Report

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A HUGE “Thanks” to everyone who supported the Month of Chocolate this year! We are still waiting on a few numbers to come in from some of the events, and we’re still selling the Art of Chocolate Recipe Books, so our total may increase a bit more yet. We are so pleased to report that through the support of all of the businesses who sponsored or hosted events, guests who attended the events, donors, volunteers, our employees who worked hard to plan and coordinate the activities, and our board members and ambassadors who also helped to share the events with others, a net profit of $37,244 was raised to support people with disabilities!

Here are a few highlights from this year:

  • We were able to decrease our overall expenses by about $8,500
  • The Art of Chocolate received a lot of positive feedback about the change to the new venue at One World at Woolery Mill
  • Our All Abilities Choir enjoyed singing for our guests at the Art of Chocolate
  • The Bloomington Moose Lodge’s Chocolate Bingo was absolutely packed, they had their largest attendance of bingo players ever
  • The new Art of Chocolate Recipe Books sponsored by Oliver Winery and created in partnership with the Bloomington Watercolor society have been VERY popular! We ordered 250, and have only about 50 remaining for sale
  • We were able to work with a videographer this year, and we’re excitedly waiting to share the video recap of events for this year

As we reflect on the events this year, we are so honored to have the support of the community behind us in so many ways. We hope to grow the events each year and do more to raise increased funds for our clients to provide them with opportunities for growth and independence that Medicaid services simply don’t fund. Just a few examples of the types of things that aren’t funded by Medicaid are: travel (more than one round trip per day, and limited to local trips), the extra support needed to learn to drive, any over the counter medications, any housing repairs or maintenance. While these examples are some of the things we see most often and which have the greatest impact on our clients’ lives, there are many other examples of things that our clients need assistance with to be more independent which are not covered.

See more pics of the all of the events on our Facebook page!

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Meet Kati

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The smiley face pictured above is our lovely client, Kati. She is an incredibly energetic woman who continues to break stereotypes on how society sees people with disabilities. Although Kati has down syndrome, she is incredibly independent. She is a model employee and praised by her bosses at McAlister’s Deli for her hard work. She uses her charm and enthusiasm to greet people and buss tables everyday over lunch. She enjoys all things Starbucks, shopping and getting her nails done. She also enjoys working out with her new personal trainer. If Kati had three wishes, she would build her own music studio, participate in a cooking class, and become an actress. Kati is working hard to fulfill these dreams herself. She works with her direct support staff Emily to visit new restaurants in town and try new foods. Her favorite is Mexican food and margaritas. She also just starred in the Night of Shine, a prom thrown nationwide to celebrate individuals with disabilities.

Kati embodies the possibilities that LIFEDesigns seeks to build in our clients. We’re so proud to be a part of her life.

Angel Tree Success!

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This holiday season was filled with extra joy due to the success of the 2019 Angel Tree! The third annual Angel Tree was a way for the community to fulfill our client’s wish list by picking a tag off of the tree and donating a gift. This year German American Bank hosted the Angel Tree again, and each of their branches displayed our clients’ wishes. Our clients got together at a small office party with hot cocoa and sugar cookies and our staff helped them to make their list out. We encouraged our clients to think about things that would help them get out into the community, such as: gift cards, movie tickets, or bowling passes. The clients also asked for things they wanted or clothing they needed.  Members of the bank and other community members enthusiastically picked tags and fulfilled wish lists.  We are so grateful to note that every client received everything on their wish list this year!

This Angel Tree is really unique, because it provides gifts for a group of people who typically don’t have any other opportunity to be included. Our clients are mostly adults with developmental disabilities, and all other Angel Trees generally target kids. Many of our clients enjoy Christmas as much as you may remember being excited to wake up Christmas morning and check under the tree to see what surprises were there. For most of our clients, family, friends, and staff are able to help them have a wonderful holiday. For those that are on our Angel Tree list however, typically family isn’t involved their lives. That’s why this Angel Tree is so special to them, and the community coming together to help them have a warm and joyous holiday is so very meaningful to each and every person who participates.

The trees have now been displayed at German American Bank for 2 years in a row. German American generously provided support and helped to make sure each wish list was fulfilled. This year, however more people from the community came into the bank to choose wish lists to fulfill. We were humbled by the outpouring of support of people who weren’t clients or employees of the bank who came in just for the Angel Trees. We also want to thank our friends at Down Syndrome Family Connection who came together to help fulfill many of the wishes.

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A Little Holiday Inspiration from Jake

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Dear friends, family and supporters of LIFEDesigns 

With the holiday season currently underway we wanted to recognize the amazing things that have occurred in 2019. Most of you should be aware, in May of 2019 we were able to increase all employee wages by $3.00 per hour. This is a significant investment for us, and one our board feels is very important to improving our services for our clients.  Since making this commitment, we’ve already started seeing some positive changes, such as: 

  • We’ve stopped using temporary staffing since September (which is a significant cost savings!)
  • We’re seeing more experienced applicants for Direct Support Professional roles.
  • We’re starting to be able to provide  more services to our clients.

We’re very excited to see these changes and look forward to seeing more positive results in 2020.

While Kristen was talking with Jake, she asked him a very simple question: “Why is LIFEDesigns important to you?” Jake’s response touched all of us here, and we wanted to share that with you:

“I’m grateful to all my friends at LIFEDesigns. You are all family to me. All I ever wanted was a family to love me.”

Jake began using LIFEDesigns for services over 20 years ago, as a young child. He receives employment services, supported living services, and hopes to be paired with a LIFEMentor volunteer soon. Because of these services, Jake has had many opportunities that HE has made the most of! Jake works 2 jobs, volunteers at WonderLab, is a member of Kiwanis Aktion Club, plans a talent show, and started the All Abilities Choir. Jake has many friends and enjoys the independent life he created for himself. We’re proud to have been there with him to provide the supports he needed. As someone who’s supported LIFEDesigns, you should feel equally responsible for providing this opportunity along with many others to our over 420 clients.  THANK YOU!

We are Thankful

With it being so near the Thanksgiving holiday, there is no better time to express what we’re thankful for. We asked the employees of LIFEDesigns what they’re thankful for this year. Read below to see why we’re grateful for our teams, clients and more!

“I’m thankful I get to have a meaningful impact in our clients lives and I get to meet so many different people I might not have met if I didn’t work for LIFEDesigns. Also, that this is a company where hard work is recognized and rewarded.” – Braden Kinser

“I am thankful for so many things about LIFEDesigns. I am so happy to be part of an organization that provides consistent housing to many who have experienced chronic homelessness. We, the worker-bees of LIFEDesigns, genuinely make a positive difference in the lives of our clients and greater community.” – Timothy Baer

“I am thankful for all the employees who dedicate themselves to our clients and making their lives better. I am thankful for the great team I have and that we are always willing to jump in and help each other in any way possible.” – Heather Bagshaw

“I am so very thankful for the opportunity to work with really caring, sincere and giving people who help LIFEDesigns clients become independent, stay healthy & happy and build relationships both at home and in the community!” – Sandra Reynolds

“I’m thankful to work for an agency that allows me to use my education and experience to help others in a rewarding way. I’m grateful that I work for an agency that I’m proud to be associated with.” – Desiree Branaman