Grant for Security System Upgrades to Group Homes

Anthony_4608pxWe all can relate to how quickly technology changes. As a result, LIFEDesigns needs to make some upgrades and improvements to our fire and security systems in all five of our group homes this year. Our current security systems use a traditional land line to connect with emergency services in the event of an emergency. The state now requires upgrades to security systems that add the ability for cellular monitoring to the current fire and security systems. In addition, one of our group homes requires the replacement of a fire panel as well. The total project will cost $5,607.50.

SCI REMC’s Operation RoundUp awarded a grant of $2,000 toward this project. To learn more about SCI REMC or Operation RoundUp, visit sciremc.com or sciremc.com/roundup. We’re so incredibly grateful to have their support. These improvements will help to keep people like Anthony (pictured above) safe in their homes.

If you would like to make a gift to help cover the remaining funds needed for this project ($3607.50), you can mail a donation to: 200 E. Winslow Rd., Bloomington, IN 47401 with a note including “Group Home Security Upgrade” or make a gift online through our website and add the comment “Group Home Security Upgrade”.

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Meet Stacey

portrait We feel honored to know Stacey now for several years. Since getting to know her, we’ve been able to support Stacey to help her find a job she enjoys at McDonald’s. Like many people, when she first learned of the COVID-19 pandemic and started to hear about the effects it was going to have on local businesses, she was afraid that she might lose her job or be laid off.

Recently, before any news of COVID-19, Stacey had set one of her new goals related to employment: “To advocate for herself at work to learn more skills.” Stacey’s primary responsibilities at McDonald’s had been working in the lobby. When the lobby closed because of COVID-19, she thought she wasn’t going to be able to keep working. To her surprise and delight, she was ecstatic to learn that she is now considered an “essential employee”! To earn this designation, Stacey had expressed her interest in learning new skills with her employer. As a result she had learned to make fries and help with other things in the kitchen so she would still be able to work. We’re so happy for her, and honored to have been able to provide her the support she needed to gain confidence and advocate for her own interests.

Project Enable

Project ENABLE (Expanding Non-discriminatory Access By Librarians Everywhere) was created in response to the findings of an IMLS-funded, three-phase research study conducted from 2006- 2009 by a team of researchers from Syracuse University, led by Dr. Ruth Small. The study April 2020 A Semi-Annual E-Newsletter Volume 1, Issue 1 Page 2 investigated the impact of a variety of library and information services on student learning and motivation in schools in New York State. Their survey of over 1600 school librarians, found that their confidence in their ability to provide effective services to patrons with disabilities was significantly lower than all other services provided. Subsequent surveys with academic and public librarians had similar findings.

LIFEDesigns CEO, Russell Bonanno, contributed an article in the newsletter regarding Sound Advice for Project Enable and why it matters. Russ is a firm believer in the importance of libraries in the lives of all people and a strong proponent of projects that ensure that current and future librarians are well-prepared to address the needs of their patrons with disabilities. Click here to read his entire article and more on Project Enable. 

Thanks to DSPs Everywhere…

This week we would like to give extra special recognition and thanks to our amazing Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and Team Managers who have been continuing to work with our clients. It has been a challenging, and somewhat uncertain time with the social distancing, and the Governor’s shelter in place executive order. Yet through all of this, our clients still rely on their staff being with them. Many of our clients are getting restless and sometimes tensions between roommates are high. Our DSPs are doing their best to be creative and provide engaging activities to do in the home. In some cases, our staff are playing the role of “teacher” for students who are now doing “school at home”. Here’s a letter we recently received from a family  member of one of our clients. It was really moving and we thought you might want to read it as well:

Jan dressed up for Halloween!
Jan dressed up for Halloween!
Jan singing with Jake
Jan singing with Jake

“I just want to take this opportunity to share my feelings with the Direct Support Professionals, Nurses, and Administrative Directors of LIFEDesigns. A year ago almost to the date, I brought my sister home from the hospital after battling Type A influenza in the ICU. The support we received from LIFEDesigns nurses and staff while in the hospital was incredible and much needed. A few weeks later, the leadership of my sister’s support staff walked out on the same day. The veteran leaders, managers and DSP’s of LIFEDesigns took on extra hours to keep my sister and her roommate healthy and safe.   

As of today, I haven’t been able to see my sister for 17 days and I won’t be able to see her again until April 7th. Because of a much needed vacation I’m self quarantined and I would not want to put my sister or anyone else’s health in jeopardy. That said, as a guardian/brother I would be out of my mind without the support provided by LifeDesigns DSP’s, Nurses and Staff. So for all the good guardians in this world we thank you!!! Not just because you do your job, but because you care  and you make personal sacrifices to keep our loved ones healthy and safe. May God bless your families and keep them healthy and safe!!” 

“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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