Baxter International Foundation awards grant to LIFEDesigns for LIFE Mentor Volunteer program development

DRAFT NEWS RELEASE
LIFEDesigns Media Contact
Stephanie Shelton, CDO 800-875-9615
sshelton@lifedesignsinc.org

Baxter Media Contact
William Rader, (224) 948-5353
media@baxter.com

LIFEDESIGNS RECEIVES BAXTER INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION GRANT FOR LIFE MENTOR VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., November 20, 2017 – A more than $75,000 grant from the Baxter International Foundation will fund the development of a one-on-one mentor volunteer program at LIFEDesigns. The grant will support a program to recruit volunteers in and around Bloomington, IN, to mentor people with disabilities.

Baxter’s Bloomington facility also will partner with LIFEDesigns and encourage social involvement by their employees to benefit the community. Pre-screened volunteers will be paired with one customer of LIFEDesigns and guided through a process to encourage social growth and the development of natural relationships between people with disabilities and other community members. This program will be focused on improving holistic health for both the volunteers and LIFEDesigns customers involved in the program.

“Baxter is committed to supporting awareness and respect for those living with disabilities, advancing inclusion in our communities, and engaging employees through volunteerism,” said Stacey Eisen, President of the Baxter International Foundation and Senior Vice President, Global Communications, Baxter International Inc.  “To that end, we are pleased to support LIFEDesigns’ volunteer mentor program focused on empowering people living with disabilities to make healthy lifestyle choices and develop meaningful mentor-mentee relationships.”

The grant will fund the “LIFE Mentor Volunteer Program,” which is in its early stages of development. LIFEDesigns is hiring a full time “Community Connector” to lead the development of the program through implementation. The program will use best practices of existing mentorship volunteer programs, and focus the first volunteer pairings with customers who generally don’t have anyone in their lives to help support them.

“Inclusion of people with disabilities into their communities is a primary goal of LIFEDesigns. We are grateful for this partnership and the grant award from Baxter, which allows customers to develop natural friendships and focuses on improving their health and wellness,” said Vonnie Peischl, LIFEDesigns board President. “We welcome volunteers who may be interested in making new friends with customers of LIFEDesigns.”

There will be further announcements with new updates and details as the program is developed. Anyone interested in getting involved in this program should contact volunteer@lifedesignsinc.org.

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.

About Baxter and Baxter International Foundation

Baxter and the Baxter International Foundation are committed to saving and sustaining lives and creating healthier communities. Every day, Baxter employees strive to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people who depend on Baxter products, and in the communities where employees live and work. The company focuses on three core areas including improving access to healthcare; fostering tomorrow’s innovation and serving its communities. Baxter works closely with public and private partners around the world to ensure people have access to the healthcare they need, to develop the next generation of innovators who will lead the way in advancing care, and to create long-lasting impact in Baxter’s communities. Baxter International Foundation supports initiatives and organizations that make a positive, lasting impact on increasing access to healthcare for the disadvantaged and underserved. For more information, please visit www.baxter.com

NEW Week of Chocolate T-Shirt Design Drawing Contest!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: LIFEDesigns holds T-Shirt contest for their annual Week of Chocolate.

Every February LIFEDesigns hosts a community-wide festival for all of Bloomington known as The Week of Chocolate. The Week of Chocolate gives local nonprofit organizations an opportunity to spread awareness about their causes while also bringing the community together with a sweet touch of chocolate.

This year, LIFEDesigns will be printing and selling t-shirts as a part of the Week of Chocolate. Since the Week of Chocolate is a community event, we want the whole community to be involved. We are holding a t-shirt contest open to all artists in the community, including students. The design should be focused on The Week of Chocolate but the artist can add their creativity to make it unique and their own design. The juried winning design will be featured on the front of all t-shirts, celebrating our signature events.

The artistic designs need to be one color and can take up the entire front of the shirt. The size will generally be a printable area of 10” w x 12” h.  The winning design will feature the artist’s name and signature and will receive a prize of $100 in the form of a Visa cash card as well as a free t-shirt with their design. Artist’s can submit their entries via email to art@lifedesignsinc.org by midnight, December 5, 2017. All designs should be submitted as a high resolution PDF. The artist should also include their name, phone, mailing address, and a brief explanation about how their design best represents “The Week of Chocolate” and LIFEDesigns.

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.

Contact: Stephanie Shelton, CDO (800) 875-9615 | sshelton@lifedesignsinc.org

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.