When William moved from Indianapolis to Columbus, Indiana, he struggled to find a job. He had moved looking for a change and turned to LIFEDesigns for support in finding employment. Although William is a natural homebody, he enjoys talking to people, dogs, and camping. William worked with employment specialist, Ben Garlic in order to find a job that suited his personality and goals. He was not sure that he would be able to find a job, but Ben believed in him and encouraged him to put effort into job hunting. Within a few months, William began to work as a greeter at Waffle House. He became responsible for assisting customers and keeping the restaurant clean. When asked what he enjoys most he responded, “I like talking to people. I was talking to a lady last weekend for twenty minutes about what we were doing. The other employees didn’t say anything. They like it when I do that.” William enjoys the support he gets from LIFEDesigns and he especially likes that he can snack during meetings with Ben. Ben has enjoyed working with William. He has watched William put effort into first getting his job and now improving his communication skills. William now wants to make his job, a career. “Look at me now, who would have thought I would be here now after a few months,” William exclaims. We are proud of what William has accomplished and how Ben was able to support him to achieve his goals. William’s story is just one of the many stories of success that our clients have been able to accomplish. This and other stories are only possible through the generous gifts from donors like you!
We are invested in supporting our clients in the things they want to do, even when the state doesn’t provide funding for it. Here are just a few examples of things that aren’t funded for our clients:
- individualized support to learn how to drive – $5.00/month
- traveling out of town to visit with family or have a mini vacation or excursion – $10.00/month
- certain therapeutic activities like horse riding or swimming lessons – $25.00/month
- individualized support to be paired with a mentor volunteer from the community – $50.00/month
Without your generous gifts, none of these activities would be possible. You can now choose a set amount per month to donate and provide ongoing support for these and more activities. In exchange we’ll thank you with some cool LIFEDesigns swag! Not only will you be making a difference in the lives of our clients, you’ll also get to showcase your love and support for people with disabilities. For a gift of $5 or more per month, you will receive a LIFEDesigns baseball cap and a bi-weekly email update as well as an annual thank you gift upon your renewal gift. For a gift of $10 of more per month, you’ll receive a really nice durable umbrella. For a gift of $25,or more per month, you’ll receive 5% off all LIFEDesigns event tickets and registrations and a high quality LIFEDesigns insulated cooler tote. Finally, with a gift of $50 or more per month, you’ll receive a LIFEDesigns jacket and 10% off all event tickets and event registrations. To learn more about this program or to begin your monthly pledge, visit our monthly giving page on our website.
On Cory Ln in Bloomington sits a big brown lodge that tends to go unnoticed. Known as the Moose Lodge, this space may be one of the best kept secrets of Bloomington. While LIFEDesigns has many donors to be thankful for, we would like to highlight one of our biggest supporters, The Moose Lodge. The Moose Lodge is an international, family-friendly fraternity that holds several fun events for its members such as bingo and poker nights! With the slogan, “a burden heavy to one is borne lightly to many”, the Lodge’s focus is on philanthropy. The Local Order of the Lodge gives most of their proceeds to their orphanage MooseHeart and to the needs of the local community.
The Moose Lodge has graciously partnered with LIFEDesigns for several initiatives. The Moose is one of LIFEDesigns biggest cash sponsors with an annual gift of $10k for the Art of Chocolate, $1250 for the golf scramble, and numerous other donations to projects. In addition, the Lodge lets LIFEDesigns use their space free of charge for employee meetings, parties, and daily client lunches. The Lodge has also hired many clients as kitchen and janitorial employees. When asked about the partnership between LIFEDesigns and the Moose Lodge, Governor Vern Hageman replied, “LIFEDesigns and our Lodge have the same mission. We both want to do something good for someone each day. We once had a client work here who didn’t socialize but now he says hi to everyone in the morning. The Moose is a safe place.”
Fundraising events are important to LIFEDesigns, because they do help raise funds, but they also give us the opportunity to meet with people we otherwise may have never met before. It also gives people who want to donate through an experience a way to give and get an enjoyable experience in return. This summer we worked really hard on two events, the Toast of the Town 3 part tasting series, and the golf scramble.
The Toast of the Town events were sponsored by nimboIP. Bill Thompson of nimboIP volunteered his time to help promote the events and to spread awareness of LIFEDesigns mission with others. We plan to continue this relationship with nimboIP and Bill into the future! In addition to Bill’s efforts, LIFEDesigns had some help from a summer event intern named Sam. Sam recently graduated form the Tourism, Hospitality, and Event planning major at the IU School of Public Health. Sam was a joy to work with, and really helped to make these beverage tasting events a lot of fun for everyone who attended. We also were able to partner with WFHB toward the end of the series, and hope to give them a little more engagement next year! All in all, the events were held at Oliver Winery, Cardinal Spirits, and Upland Brewery. There were approximately a dozen guests at each event. LIFEDesigns earned a little over $1000.00 from the Toast of the Town 3-part tasting series. It is our hope that we can double that or better for next year!
The Golf Scramble was a HUGE success in 2019 compared with 2018. In 2018, the small golf committee (Tim, Terry, and Troy) with Stephanie’s support, raised just under $10,000 net profits. In 2019, the same committee worked diligently and recruited new sponsors, and more teams to play and ended up raising $14,646.00 net profits! The event was enjoyable to everyone who attended. We have many sponsors, donors, and volunteers to thank for all of this success. (See our golf scramble page to see the sponsors for the event.) The German American Bank team came in first place for the day…this was especially surprising, because I was able to help them out by sinking a challenging putt after their teammates had all tried and missed. There were of course other holes where they had amazing putts to bring them to the low score of 54, but this was so exciting for me because it truly was a magnificent achievement for me! The German American team in their outstanding generosity, donated back their prize money to LIFEDesigns. It was such a wonderful day all around. There were a lot of prizes and gift cards, and everyone enjoyed listening to the All Abilities Choir singing the National Anthem to start the event. Thanks to everyone for being a part of it. We hope to see many of you again next year!
The process to obtain a driver’s license can be challenging for many young adults. Coupled with a disability this challenge can almost seem insurmountable. Three young men set a goal to work towards this monumental step for independence, namely studying and passing the driver permit exam. Community Engagement Coordinator, Kristen King, quickly jumped in to help these clients achieve their goals. She began a Driver’s Ed study group which would meet weekly where these clients would take practice tests and quiz each other on topics. Additionally, she recruited a volunteer to assist with studying and teaching driving skills. When asked why, Kristen explained “LIFEDesigns’ goal is to make individuals with disabilities more independent. I hoped to take away a barrier leading to their greater independence.” After careful study, all 3 members took the test but were unable to pass because the test was conducted on a computer, an element they had not prepared for. The clients persevered and continued to study diligently while Kristen planned testing accommodations with the BMV. The three clients took the test once again. This time the questions were read to them by a BMV employee. While none passed, two clients scored within a few points of a passing score. The group has not given up hope and although they took a short break to celebrate their substantial accomplishments, they plan to meet once again to work on passing the test! This is a great example of how volunteers and donors combined to make this opportunity possible for these three clients. Because activities like individualized support for driver’s ed are not funded through program reimbursements, we must raise funds to give our clients the opportunities and support needed to successful with projects like this, and to ultimately achieve their highest level of independence. This is our mission put into practice. Our individualized planning process identified these three people who need a little extra support and a few accommodations to have the same opportunity to learn to drive that everyone else does. Thanks to all who support people with disabilities to work toward their goals.
Every year, National DSP Appreciation week is in September. It was Sept. 8 – 14 this year. We always appreciate our employees, but we try to show them some extra appreciation each year during this week. This year, our Human Resources team with the help of Kristen King our Community Engagement Coordinator planned a fun event for each day of the week. Some examples include watching Forrest Gump at the Starlite Drive In, laser tag, pub trivia, and cookies and canvas. Additionally, they hosted an employee awards banquet and collected nominations for employee awards. We had so many great nominations, it was difficult to choose only one person to receive the award in each category. Pictured above, Hailey Clark (from our Human Resources team) is presenting DSP of the Year (1-4 years) to Jessica Conway.
Jessica is just one example of the many outstanding employees that we’re fortunate to have working with us. Here’s what her nominators had to say about her:
“Jessica always goes above and beyond for her clients and puts them first. She puts a lot of effort into working with her clients and has significantly helped one person increase his communication skills. For this particular client he really doesn’t use speech to communicate, so that is a huge deal. His increased skills have helped him to communicate his needs and wants, and reduced the need for him to act out in desperation. It is evident that his happiness level has increased because of her dedication and efforts to teach him alternative communication skills. The amount of thought she puts into how she can work better with him is very impressive. You can tell she truly cares about him and her job. She is reliable and always at work when she’s scheduled. She’s also willing to help in any way she can.”
Other award winners for 2019 were: Braden Kinser (DSP of the Year <1 year), Laurie Norton (DSP of the Year for >5 years), Erin Thurston (Administrator of the year)
We’re so grateful to all of our employees for the time and effort they put into their careers at LIFEDesigns. To see open positions with LIFEDesigns, go to our careers page.