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


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


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.

Crawford II


Crawford II Project Funding Award Announcement

CONTACT: Susan Rinne, LIFEDesigns’ Chief Executive Officer, for photos or interviews at (812) 332–9615 or srinne@lifedesignsinc.org

Crawford II—Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann announced that the state is awarding more than $14.3 million in rental housing tax credits to 18 multi-family housing developments throughout Indiana. This award was highly competitive, and selected only 18 of 50 applications submitted.

One of the projects awarded is for a new housing project by LIFEDesigns in collaboration with Shalom Center, Crawford II.  Much like the first project, Crawford II will also be a permanent supportive housing project aimed at ending chronic homelessness in Bloomington.  Following the amazing success of Crawford I, Crawford II is expected to further reduce costs for the City of Bloomington in the areas of emergency room use, incarcerations, and uninsured medical expenses.

The $7.4 million building project will be developed by LIFEDesigns and services for residents provided by Shalom in partnership with several providers in the South Central Housing Network including, Centerstone, IU Health, and more.  At this point, the project has been awarded the majority of the funding it needs.  The final critical piece of the funding puzzle is anticipated in July from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis.  Other already confirmed funding sources for the project are the City of Bloomington HOME funds, IHCDA HOME funds, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credits mentioned here. Milestone Ventures of Indianapolis provided assistance with the applications for the funding requests and project development planning.

Crawford I supports 28 formerly homeless individuals who have a disability, and are most at risk. Crawford II will offer 35 safe, secure furnished one bedroom apartments for 35 individuals or couples. Similar to Crawford I, Shalom and others will offer services that include employment counseling, training, and placement; daily living skills instruction; counseling; case management; addictions counseling, and support; health and wellness counseling; and nutrition instruction. In addition, there will be many unique features including a healthy eating curriculum, laptop lending program, welcome packages, and LEED standard building. Susan Rinne states, “Building on the success of Crawford I this project will ensure the achievements of the people who live there through its design and wrap around services.”

Supportive housing is a successful, cost-effective combination of affordable housing with services that help people live more stable, productive lives. Supportive housing works well for people who face the most complex challenges—individuals and families who are not only homeless, but who also have very low income and serious persistent health issues such as having a disability, substance use or self-medication, mental illness, and HIV/AIDS.

Crawford I has shown that permanent supportive housing in Bloomington is successful and needed. In the first year alone, Crawford I residents increased their income by 29%, doubled the number who have healthcare, reduced incarcerations by 88%, and reduced emergency room use by 65%. This is consistent with findings from a study by the University of Pennsylvania Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research which states the initial housing costs are offset by annual savings per person of $16,282 which nearly pays for the housing expenditure. They show the savings is directly connected to reduction in public health services, decline in shelter use, and reduced incarceration. Neighborhoods benefit from these projects as well finding improved safety and beautification, and increased or stabilized property values.

Services to the residents will be provided by Shalom Community Center and funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the application is pending.

Rev. Forrest Gilmore, Executive Director of Shalom Community Center, said, “This is an opportunity to put both our heads and our hearts together to solve the compelling challenge of chronic homelessness. Housing First is a tested model of support for people with disabilities who also have experienced long-term homelessness. Crawford II will not only end homelessness for some of the most vulnerable people in Bloomington, but also improve the quality of our community and save money by reducing the impact on our criminal justice and health care systems.”

Mayor John Hamilton commented on the announcement, “Congratulations to LIFEDesigns and the Shalom Center for securing the funding to develop Crawford II.  This is great news for Bloomington. The Crawford model of addressing chronic homelessness is a proven success.  I’m thrilled that at least 35 more individuals will benefit from safe, secure housing and all the services that make building a better life possible.”

About Shalom

Shalom Community Center is dedicated to aiding and empowering people experiencing extreme poverty. As a resource center for people who are living in poverty and the most comprehensive response to homelessness in south central Indiana, Shalom offers a gateway to both emergency services and long-term solutions. Since its founding in 2000, Shalom has grown rapidly, providing day and overnight shelter, hunger relief, housing for people with disabilities and working families, employment support, case management, street outreach, eviction prevention, prescription and health care assistance, life essentials (laundry, showers, mail, ID, etc.), and other health and human services to hundreds of people each day and thousands of people each year. Shalom Community Center is a United Way Member Agency.

To learn more about Shalom Community Center, please visit www.shalomcommunitycenter.org, call (812) 334-5728, or email shalom@shalomcommunitycenter.org.

About LIFEDesigns

LIFEDesigns partners with people of all ages and abilities to lead meaningful and active lives. This is accomplished through community living services, general support services and assistive technology, a community-based education program, affordable housing, and supported employment services. LIFEDesigns doesn’t just help people survive, they teach them to be involved and engaged in their community and to follow their dreams and achieve their goals. LIFEDesigns humbly provides the supports and opportunities that some people need to achieve their dreams of owning their own home, getting a job they love, and learning to make friends and develop relationships in their community.

To learn more about LIFEDesigns and how we help people achieve their goals, or to find out how you can be involved, visit lifedesigsinc.org or call (800) 875–9615.