LIFEDesigns hires new CEO Russell Bonanno

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LIFEDesigns extends a warm welcome to Russell Bonanno to fill the role of CEO as Susan Rinne retires November 11, 2017. LIFEDesigns’ Board invites the community to share this warm welcome with Russell as he becomes acquainted with Bloomington, IN.

Susan Rinne, LIFEDesigns CEO for the last 18 years, is a community leader who has dedicated her career towards righting social injustices specifically for people with disabilities. She has not only improved the lives of people with disabilities and made LIFEDesigns one of the most well-respected, successful non-profit agencies supporting people with disabilities in the state, but also made the entire community a better and more welcoming place. As she leaves, and Russell takes on this new role, he will provide the leadership that LIFEDesigns needs as the agency continually strives to improve services and community opportunities for people with disabilities. Russell states, “For more than 30 years, LIFEDesigns has provided innovative, community-based services designed in partnership with their customers and in collaboration with community members. It is an honor to be able to work with such a forward thinking Board and dedicated staff to continue and expand upon this history.”

Russell comes to LIFEDesigns from his most recent roles: Director of The Autism Program of Illinois, and non-profit consultant. Much of Russell’s background includes experience with policy and advocacy. He also has a strong background in marketing and program evaluation. He has been a member of the Illinois Autism Task Force, the Governor’s Health Care Reform Implementation Workgroup on Workforce Development, The Arc of Illinois, and the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics conference committees. He has experience in securing two federal grants to improve libraries accessibility to and services for individuals with autism and their families.

Vonnie Peischl, LIFEDesigns Board Chair states, “The Board is very happy that Russell Bonanno has accepted the CEO position at LIFEDesigns. We believe with his interdisciplinary background, along with his commitment to supporting people with disabilities to be independent in their communities, he is an excellent choice to lead our agency in the coming years.” There will be more information to come and a welcoming reception in the coming months. At this time we want to thank Susan Rinne for her leadership, and extend our hands to Russell as takes on the role of CEO and leads LIFEDesigns into the next phase of our journey to build inclusive communities.

About LIFEDesigns: LIFEDesigns believes that everyone deserves a home, job among their peers, and access to the community they live in. Everyone has abilities and deserves the opportunity to be valued for their contributions. Everyone deserves the opportunity to meet and make friends and to live in a diverse and welcoming community. The agency exists to provide the support and opportunities that people with disabilities need to achieve their goals. LIFEDesigns is a United Way Member Agency in Bartholomew, Lawrence, and Monroe Counties.

LIFEDesigns receives funding for Wheelchair Accessible Van

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LIFEDesigns purchased a wheelchair accessible transport van last fall, thanks to funding received from the City of Bloomington’s Jack Hopkins Social Services Fund, Smithville Charitable Foundation, and Bloomington’s Sunrise Rotary Club. This van now provides access to the community for about 140 people living in and around Monroe County. We expect this van will last for about 8 to 10 years, and over that time will meet the needs of over 180 people.

LIFEDesigns supports our customers to use public transportation when it is available to them, however people who live in rural areas, and want to travel at times or to locations where accessible transportation is not available are able to use this van to get where they need to go. This van has helped people get to work on time, visit family that lives out of town, and have access to community amenities they would not have otherwise been able to travel to.

Thank you so much to our grantors for this vehicle that has really made a difference in so many people’s lives!

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LIFEDesigns Welcomes New Chief Financial Officer

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APRIL 24, 2017:  Nancy Crandall has been CFO for LIFEDesigns for the past 19 years. Her leadership has been invaluable to the organization’s success in achieving their mission of partnering with people of all ages and abilities to lead meaningful and active lives. Since she joined (then Options for Better Living) in October 1998, she has been responsible for guiding LIFEDesigns to a Four-fold increase in revenues, positive net incomes for all but 3 of those years, a 50% increase in salary per employee, and 19 years of positive audit results. She has retired and will definitely be missed. Her legacy, however, leaves LIFEDesigns with a solid foundation and some truly great staff.

LIFEDesigns welcomed Cathy Martin, CPA on April 24, 2017 to fill the role of Chief Financial Officer at LIFEDesigns. Cathy comes to us with 12 years of nonprofit accounting and more than that operating her own accounting business. She is adjunct faculty at Ivy Tech teaching nonprofit accounting. She has been a lifelong resident of the Bloomington area, and a graduate of Indiana University.

A quote from Cathy about joining LIFEDesigns, “I am very excited to become a part of the LIFEDesigns team!  I hope that my non-profit and accounting experience will help me to continue the outstanding fiscal leadership and further support the mission of the organization.”

Susan Rinne, LIFEDesigns CEO states, “Thank you to Nancy for all her work over the past 19 years. We are so pleased to build a strong financial foundation for the agency. As we move forward, we are certain Cathy will continue her tradition of excellence and help us as we tackle the tough issues that will face us in the future.”

About LIFEDesigns: LIFEDesigns believes that everyone deserves a home, job among their peers, and access to the community they live in. Everyone has abilities and deserves the opportunity to be valued for their contributions. Everyone deserves the opportunity to meet and make friends and to live in a divers and welcoming community. The agency exists to provide the support and opportunities that people with disabilities need to achieve their goals. LIFEDesigns is a United Way Member Agency in Bartholomew, Lawrence, and Monroe Counties.

Contact: Susan Rinne, CEO 800-875-9615 | srinne@lifedesignsinc.org

2017 Annual LIFEDesigns “Academy” Awards

For Immediate Release:

Recently, LIFEDesigns hosted their annual awards program recognizing employees, customers, volunteers, and donors for their accomplishments throughout the past year. The event was held at the KRC Banquet Hall in the beautiful town of Ellettsville, Indiana.

LIFEDesigns is a non-profit organization providing services across South Central Indiana. The organization provides supporting services to people with disabilities so they can live their lives as independently as possible. Some of the services include continuing education, affordable housing, supported employment, community living, and support services.

In 2016, we were able to start two new housing projects, each of which received full funding…over $8,000,000! Throughout the year, we were able to provide homes for 66 people in affordable housing. The new projects are both expected to be completed in 2017, and will provide homes for over 45 more people.

2016 was a CARF survey year for LIFE Designs, the process is very intense and looks very closely at the quality of programs and policies at LIFE Designs. LIFE Designs is very proud to be awarded a 3 year accreditation by the CARF international accrediting organization of health and human services organizations.

Award winners announced at the event included five Stewardship Awards for community organizations who had generously shared their time and resources with LIFEDesigns. They included Milestone Ventures, CFC Properties, The Shalom Center, Smithville, and the Bloomington Sunrise Rotary. Five staff members also received awards for their dedication, teamwork, and community involvement. They included Lori Schopmeyer (LIFE Designs Employee Leadership Award), Trevor Self (LIFE Designs Employee Innovations Award), Misty Joy Hudson (Foundation Award), Ellen Roth (Employee Excellence Award), Mary Brown (L.I.F.E. Award), and Danny Thomas for the Volunteer L.I.F.E. Award. Customers receiving awards were recognized for their amazing accomplishments throughout the year, their efforts in giving back to the community through volunteering, and their positivity. There were 6 customers recognized.

To learn more about what LIFEDesigns does, and how you can be involved with the organization, visit them online at lifedesignsinc.org, on Facebook, or Twitter.

CONTACT: Susan Rinne, srinne@lifedesignsinc.org or 800-875-9615 for more information or to schedule interviews.

Groundbreaking at McKinley

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LIFEDesigns is breaking ground on a new housing development in Columbus, Indiana. The $1,000,000 project construction has been funded by grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), and Old National Bank Foundation. The whole community has come together to support this project through the City of Columbus, United Way of Bartholomew County, and Heritage Fund. Milestone Ventures and Spring Point Architects have partnered with LIFEDesigns to develop the project.

The project, called “LIFEDesigns at McKinley” features the new construction of two residential supported living units for people with developmental or physical disabilities in Columbus, Indiana. LIFEDesigns at McKinley will create accessible homes for eight people, and include independent living services. Heritage Fund—The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County recently awarded LIFEDesigns a grant of nearly $14,000, which will furnish both units. The groundbreaking celebration is planned for October 7, and the completion of the project is expected by Spring 2017. Two adjacent units are planned to be built in a phase II projected for 2018.

About LIFEDesigns: LIFEDesigns believes that no one should be segregated from their community, and that everyone has talents and abilities. The agency exists to provide the support and opportunities that people with disabilities need to achieve their goals. This is reflected in the McKinley project as well as all of LIFEDesigns services. With a focus on employment for everyone, LIFEDesigns supports people to discover their talents, find a job in the community that matches their skills, and work with the employer and other employees to establish natural supports in their new role.

Contact: Susan Rinne, CEO 800-875-9615 | srinne@lifedesignsinc.org

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LIFEDesigns Featured in ACL Profile Blog

For Immediate Release:

LIFEDesigns recognized in ACL Blog: “Increasing Opportunities for Integrated Employment: Lesson’s from Indiana”

LIFEDesigns has always been viewed as an innovative service provider, providing integrated community services to people with disabilities across south central Indiana. LIFEDesigns is an established service provider, in operation for over 30 years. The ACL is the Administration for Community Living, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In their blog post on May 17, 2016 they highlight the uniqueness of how community integration is intertwined throughout all of LIFEDesigns services.

The community integration is especially noticed in Supported Employment. After recently finishing their strategic planning to 2018, LIFEDesigns recognized that community employment was the number one most desired goal for the people they support. Currently about 32% of LIFEDesigns customers are employed in their community compared with only about 21% in Indiana. LIFEDesigns won’t stop there—by 2018 they hope to increase the percentage of customers working in a community job to over 50%. Using the nationwide EmploymentFIRST Initiative, LIFEDesigns has a plan to expand their capacity for employment supports to be able to achieve this goal in less than 3 years. With the support of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County with a grant of $25,000, we will begin seeing the results of this effort early 2017. This initiative is seeking local business professionals for council on developing community employment and self employment opportunities within the local economy.

Another key component of achieving full community integration is LIFEDesigns Community Education Opportunities program intended for adults with developmental disabilities who want to improve their social, employment, and life skills. The program features classes targeted towards improving fitness, social interactions, communication, self advocacy, cooking, and exploration of the arts. This program stands out because each class is held in a community location, and professionally skilled volunteers teach the classes. The customers attending these courses are more engaged in the learning activities and typically end up teaching the volunteers a little bit about disabilities as well.

This is ACL’s third profile of local programming promoting integrated employment for people with disabilities. To read the full story posted by ACL go online to: http://www.acl.gov/NewsRoom/blog/2016/2016_05_17.aspx

To learn more about LIFEDesigns and the benefits the organization provides to the community, explore our website or follow LIFEDesigns on Facebook or Twitter.

CONTACT: Susan Rinne (800) 875-9615 for more information or to schedule interviews.