“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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Toast of the Town and Golf Scramble Fundraising Report

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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!

For photos of the Golf Scramble go to our Facebook Album, To see our All Abilities Choir in action, check out our Facebook Live post on our Facebook page!

DSP Appreciation

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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.

 

LIFEDesigns and United Way

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LIFEDesigns is a United Way Member Agency in Bartholomew and Monroe Counties. I believe many people wonder “what does it mean to be a United Way member agency?” It means that we are held to high standards and are certified every year by volunteers from the community and United Way board members who evaluate how our business is operated, and our financial strength.  It means that we’re connected with other agencies that serve the community to make it a better place for people to live. All United Way Member Agencies are agencies with some type of Human Services mission. We all play different roles in ensuring that all members of the community have their basic needs met: an affordable place to live, nutritious food, access to resources that help with financial stability, supports in place to find a job, and more.

This year, I’ve had the honor of serving as the President of (UWADA) or United Way Agency Directors Association. This means that I’ve had the opportunity to be the elected representative for member agencies, and I attend the United Way Board Meetings. This experience has helped me get to know and better understand United Way’s role in this community, and help to shape the direction the United Way of Monroe County goes in the future.  

Each year, LIFEDesigns runs a workplace campaign to support the United Way because the United Way does so much for our agency and many other local non-profits. This year, LIFEDesigns was awarded over $42,000 from the United Ways of Monroe and Bartholomew Counties.. The United Way of Monroe County helps to fund our supported living and affordable housing programs to ensure that our clients have safe, accessible, and affordable places to live, while the United Way of Bartholomew County funds our employment services to help people with disabilities find jobs.  

It’s so important to support the United Way for the work that they are doing with LIFEDesigns and so many other outstanding organizations in our communities. LIFEDesigns runs a workplace campaign to raise money for the United Way. Each year our employees hold a penny wars competition, a chili cook-off, pumpkin carving contest, and “jeans for a cause” all to support the United Way campaign. Generally, we’re able to raise around $400-500 to support the United Way.

This year LIFEDesigns was asked to present to Duke Energy employees about our services and how we help our clients. Huge Thanks goes out to Duke Energy for giving their employees opportunities and incentive to give donations and volunteer with local 501(c)3 non-profit organizations. We’re so lucky to live in a community where people care so much about each other.

See the United Way of Monroe County’s website or United Way of Bartholomew County’s website to learn more about the work they each do in the community they serve. 

Summer Event Fundraising Report

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This summer we wanted to host several events that would not just raise money for our programs, but also help increase our agency name and mission recognition in the community. This summer we hosted a 5K & picnic, the Toast of the Town 3-part beverage tasting series, and several dine and donate events with local restaurants. At all of the events, we felt really good about the turnout we had. We’re very grateful to all the volunteers and sponsors who helped to make these events successful. We hope these summer events will turn into annual events and happen again in 2020!

The See the Abilities 5K Walk/Run was on July 20, 2019. We had about 40 participants, and raised just over $1600. It was a hot day, but lots of fun. Several of our clients were very excited to participate in this as well. We had a great turnout for the first year, considering there was also another 5K the same day in Bedford.

Toast of the Town at Oliver Winery, Upland Brewing Co., and Cardinal Spirits on June 30, July 27, August 24. Overall we sold 37 tickets to all 3 events, and had an average of about 13-15 attendees at each of the three events. We raised just over $1000 from the 3 events combined, and the guests really enjoyed the experience and indicated they would attend the events again in the future.

Our final event ending our summer event series will be our benefit concert at Mike’s Dance Barn in Nashville, IN on August 30th at 6:30 pm. When we did this once before during the Week of Chocolate earlier this year, we were able to raise just over $700.00 from the event, and hope to top that number this time.

We hosted restaurant dine and donate events over the summer: 1 at Applebees, 2 at Texas Roadhouse in Bloomington, 1 at Avers Pizza, 1 at Chipotle, and 1 at Texas Roadhouse in Columbus (planned for September 24). We hope to continue to offer these events throughout the year as an easy way to support LIFEDesigns while doing the activities you already enjoy. Through the dine and donate events we were able to raise over $250 so far, and we still have a few more left for this year! We’re so grateful to all of the restaurants that partner with us on these events. See our events page for more upcoming events.

Other fundraising programs we participate in are Kroger Rewards and Amazon Smile. So far in 2019, we’ve received $249.70 from Kroger Rewards program, and $52.95 from Amazon Smile program. Big thanks to everyone who shops at Kroger’s or Amazon Smile to support LIFEDesigns! To learn how you can support LIFEDesigns through these shopping programs, see our fundraising page.