Angel Tree

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Now that Halloween has past, LIFEDesigns has begun to prepare for the holiday season. Each year, we do the best we can to include all our clients in holiday cheer. Typically we support about 40-50 people who do not have anyone in their lives to spend the holidays with. Our annual Angel Tree is our way of providing them with the holiday giving experience they so desire. The Angel Trees share these wish lists by our clients with the community. On Wednesday, November 13, LIFEDesigns will host an angel tree ornament decorating party where our clients will each decorate their personal ornament as a gift meant for the person from the community who fulfills their wish list. All are invited to volunteer to help our clients with this fun craft project. Contact Kristen King (kking@lifedesignsinc.org) if you are interested in attending the party.

More news to come on the dates and locations these trees will be on display out in the community. Each year we’re so honored to see how much support from the community is given through this project. Last year, German American bank hosted each of the trees with client wish lists, and the bank donated a little extra to cover purchases of gifts that weren’t taken care of by their staff or community members. Additionally, the South Central Indiana Kiwanis Club helped to sponsor several wish lists, and Royale Hair parlor collected cash donations for LIFEDesigns as well. We’re so grateful to everyone who helped last year, and look forward to building on these relationships for this year!  

Job-A-Palooza 2019

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LIFEDesigns and Stone Belt proudly collaborated to create an event, funded by a grant from Duke Energy for $5,500. This allowed individuals with disabilities to try out a wide variety of jobs in one day. On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, the Warehouse was open to Job-A-Palooza participants for a day to talk with local employers in different fields, try out different tasks and jobs from each business, and participate in mock interviews.

Throughout the day, participants were able to visit and chat with each employer at their booth. As part of the registration process, attendees were given a set of questions regarding their interest and abilities, and then matched with an employer that best fit with their responses. Mock interviews were also held during this time, where individuals had the opportunity to participate in an interview and was followed up with feedback from our mock interviewers.

Mayor's Proclamation

The City of Bloomington Mayor’s Proclamation was also read at the event, which stated the October 2019 as Disability Awareness Month in Bloomington, Indiana. A statement from the Proclamation: “WHEREAS, Bloomington is a model employer for individuals with disabilities, and understands that competitive employment in the community is the first and preferred outcome for all working-age people with disabilities.”

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Jake and Robert got to try out their skills at several different stations during this event, and learned some things they didn’t know before. Like many people, Jake was a bit hesitant to try many of the skills stations. Jake is an extremely outgoing person, and generally loves to be social. Yet, when it came to putting yourself out there and trying something new, it was a difficult challenge for him. Walking around the event for the first time, he decided he didn’t want to try any of the stations. Walking around a second time with Kristen to support him, he still didn’t want to try any of the stations…until he saw someone he knew at one of the stations. They waved him over and encouraged him to try the station out. When he was finished he saw his scoring, and when he saw how well he performed he got very excited. This led to him trying other stations, and generally exploring a lot of possibilities he never would have considered. There were many other stories similar to this where, someone discovered a job that they wouldn’t have previously considered. There were also several requests from businesses that they wanted to actually interview some of the candidates that they met through the event for open positions they currently have. Overall, this was a huge success and lots of fun for everyone involved.

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The employer lineup for the day included:

Stone Belt
LIFEDesigns
SCCAP
IU Health Community Health
U.S. Census Bureau
Indiana Institute on Disability and Community – Indiana University
Domino’s
AMC Theatres
Williams Brothers Health Care Pharmacy
Sazon Mexican Cuisine
My Sister’s Closet
Upland Brewing Company
Cook Medical
Kroger’s
Monroe County Humane Association
Callie & Company Entertainment
Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity
Chick Fil A
Community Ford Lincoln of Bloomington
Salt Creek Cycles
One World Catering
One World at Woolery Mill
Work To Include

Thank you Smithville and Jack Hopkins!

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LIFEDesigns is pleased to announce our new maintenance truck has arrived, thanks to two grants! This F-250 truck will be used to provide general maintenance service to our 5 group homes and our affordable housing apartments and duplexes. Smithville Charitable Foundation granted $10,000, and the City of Bloomington Common Council Jack Hopkins Social Services Funding Committee granted $16,084 toward the new maintenance truck. This coupled with the state minimum pricing discount Community Ford of Bloomington was able to offer us left only $5,565.25 of the truck for LIFEDesigns to cover.

The next step to this plan is to purchase a snow plow for $5,500. We do still need donations to help cover this cost. The snowplow will allow our maintenance team to handle our own snow maintenance, saving us about $12,000 every 3 years. 

We are humbled by the community’s support of this project and are especially grateful to the City of Bloomington Jack Hopkins Social Services Fund, and Smithville Charitable Foundation for their generous gifts. In the next few weeks we’ll be working to display proper recognition for these gifts by having their logos placed on the side of the truck. 

 

Joel & Alex, Friends for LIFE

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When Joel knocked on Stephanie Shelton’s office one day back in 2018, he didn’t know that he was about to impact one of our client’s lives in such a positive way. Joel had recently moved to Bloomington in order to take a new job. In an effort to explore Bloomington, he sought opportunities to volunteer and LIFEDesigns was located a few blocks from his house. Joel was quickly immersed in our LIFEMentor  program which partners a community member with a client for mentorship. The LIFEMentor program places community members in supported friendships with LIFEDesigns clients who don’t receive enough state funding to cover very many staffing hours. This really accomplishes several things:

  1. It teaches community members how they can invite a person with a disability into their life as a friend.
  2. It facilitates the beginning of new friendships for people with disabilities (who so often have few people in their lives outside of staff or family members).
  3. It promotes real community inclusion for people with disabilities.
  4. It fosters independence through natural supports and relationship building.

Joel was matched with Alex. They quickly bonded and embarked on numerous events such as IU football games, scooter rides around town, and even volunteering during IU move in. Additionally, when Alex recently wanted more hours for work, he wasn’t able to get support through Vocational Rehabilitation. But because Joel was in his life, he was able to find a new job at Walmart with Joel’s guidance and support throughout the application and interview process. If it weren’t for this new connection in his life, Alex wouldn’t be able to leave his home very often for fun or social activities. 

Before volunteering at LIFEDesigns, Joel had never worked with the special needs community and believes that his experience as a mentor has helped him “become more humble and self-aware.” Joel believes that volunteering with individuals unlike himself makes you a richer person.

Watch this video on YouTube to listen to a bit more of Alex and Joel’s story: https://youtu.be/0EnJJZsYf20

If you are interested in becoming a LIFEMentor please contact Kristen King at kking@lifedesignsinc.org 

William’s Success

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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!   

New Monthly Giving Program!

Monthly Giving Poster 2019

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.