Much congratulations goes out to our client, Tristan! After four hard years, Tristan graduated high school!! This large feat would normally be celebrated with an in person graduation at the school, wearing a cap and gown, and walking across a stage to receive a diploma. Sadly, due to covid, Tristan’s high school graduation was canceled. LIFEDesigns’ Team Manager, Layla, however, planned a covid friendly celebration- a surprise caravan parade! About 10 cars filled with LIFEDesigns’ staff placed the unaware Tristan and his staff at the street corner near his house. They honked their horns and held signs out of the window stating just how proud they were of Tristan’s success. Tristan’s smile could be seen from miles away. He surely was surprised and was even more surprised when he was given a gift card to his favorite fast food place. Tristan is just one of the clients we serve at LIFEDesigns and his success is one in many we hope to continue to celebrate. We are so proud of Tristan and so proud of Layla, who went above and beyond to celebrate his special day.
The smiley face pictured above is our lovely client, Kati. She is an incredibly energetic woman who continues to break stereotypes on how society sees people with disabilities. Although Kati has down syndrome, she is incredibly independent. She is a model employee and praised by her bosses at McAlister’s Deli for her hard work. She uses her charm and enthusiasm to greet people and buss tables everyday over lunch. She enjoys all things Starbucks, shopping and getting her nails done. She also enjoys working out with her new personal trainer. If Kati had three wishes, she would build her own music studio, participate in a cooking class, and become an actress. Kati is working hard to fulfill these dreams herself. She works with her direct support staff Emily to visit new restaurants in town and try new foods. Her favorite is Mexican food and margaritas. She also just starred in the Night of Shine, a prom thrown nationwide to celebrate individuals with disabilities.
Kati embodies the possibilities that LIFEDesigns seeks to build in our clients. We’re so proud to be a part of her life.
This holiday season was filled with extra joy due to the success of the 2019 Angel Tree! The third annual Angel Tree was a way for the community to fulfill our client’s wish list by picking a tag off of the tree and donating a gift. This year German American Bank hosted the Angel Tree again, and each of their branches displayed our clients’ wishes. Our clients got together at a small office party with hot cocoa and sugar cookies and our staff helped them to make their list out. We encouraged our clients to think about things that would help them get out into the community, such as: gift cards, movie tickets, or bowling passes. The clients also asked for things they wanted or clothing they needed. Members of the bank and other community members enthusiastically picked tags and fulfilled wish lists. We are so grateful to note that every client received everything on their wish list this year!
This Angel Tree is really unique, because it provides gifts for a group of people who typically don’t have any other opportunity to be included. Our clients are mostly adults with developmental disabilities, and all other Angel Trees generally target kids. Many of our clients enjoy Christmas as much as you may remember being excited to wake up Christmas morning and check under the tree to see what surprises were there. For most of our clients, family, friends, and staff are able to help them have a wonderful holiday. For those that are on our Angel Tree list however, typically family isn’t involved their lives. That’s why this Angel Tree is so special to them, and the community coming together to help them have a warm and joyous holiday is so very meaningful to each and every person who participates.
The trees have now been displayed at German American Bank for 2 years in a row. German American generously provided support and helped to make sure each wish list was fulfilled. This year, however more people from the community came into the bank to choose wish lists to fulfill. We were humbled by the outpouring of support of people who weren’t clients or employees of the bank who came in just for the Angel Trees. We also want to thank our friends at Down Syndrome Family Connection who came together to help fulfill many of the wishes.
Dear friends, family and supporters of LIFEDesigns,
With the holiday season currently underway we wanted to recognize the amazing things that have occurred in 2019. Most of you should be aware, in May of 2019 we were able to increase all employee wages by $3.00 per hour. This is a significant investment for us, and one our board feels is very important to improving our services for our clients. Since making this commitment, we’ve already started seeing some positive changes, such as:
- We’ve stopped using temporary staffing since September (which is a significant cost savings!)
- We’re seeing more experienced applicants for Direct Support Professional roles.
- We’re starting to be able to provide more services to our clients.
We’re very excited to see these changes and look forward to seeing more positive results in 2020.
While Kristen was talking with Jake, she asked him a very simple question: “Why is LIFEDesigns important to you?” Jake’s response touched all of us here, and we wanted to share that with you:
“I’m grateful to all my friends at LIFEDesigns. You are all family to me. All I ever wanted was a family to love me.”
Jake began using LIFEDesigns for services over 20 years ago, as a young child. He receives employment services, supported living services, and hopes to be paired with a LIFEMentor volunteer soon. Because of these services, Jake has had many opportunities that HE has made the most of! Jake works 2 jobs, volunteers at WonderLab, is a member of Kiwanis Aktion Club, plans a talent show, and started the All Abilities Choir. Jake has many friends and enjoys the independent life he created for himself. We’re proud to have been there with him to provide the supports he needed. As someone who’s supported LIFEDesigns, you should feel equally responsible for providing this opportunity along with many others to our over 420 clients. THANK YOU!
With it being so near the Thanksgiving holiday, there is no better time to express what we’re thankful for. We asked the employees of LIFEDesigns what they’re thankful for this year. Read below to see why we’re grateful for our teams, clients and more!
“I’m thankful I get to have a meaningful impact in our clients lives and I get to meet so many different people I might not have met if I didn’t work for LIFEDesigns. Also, that this is a company where hard work is recognized and rewarded.” – Braden Kinser
“I am thankful for so many things about LIFEDesigns. I am so happy to be part of an organization that provides consistent housing to many who have experienced chronic homelessness. We, the worker-bees of LIFEDesigns, genuinely make a positive difference in the lives of our clients and greater community.” – Timothy Baer
“I am thankful for all the employees who dedicate themselves to our clients and making their lives better. I am thankful for the great team I have and that we are always willing to jump in and help each other in any way possible.” – Heather Bagshaw
“I am so very thankful for the opportunity to work with really caring, sincere and giving people who help LIFEDesigns clients become independent, stay healthy & happy and build relationships both at home and in the community!” – Sandra Reynolds
“I’m thankful to work for an agency that allows me to use my education and experience to help others in a rewarding way. I’m grateful that I work for an agency that I’m proud to be associated with.” – Desiree Branaman
LIFEDesigns would like to thank Mona Mellinger for hosting a wine tasting party at her house to raise funds for LIFEDesigns endowment campaign. Mona was first introduced to LIFEDesigns through her daughter Sarah Burgess who is on our board. She immediately was touched by our mission to partner with and promote independence for people with disabilities, and subsequently she became a LIFEDesigns ambassador. As an ambassador she assists with fundraising, promotes our mission, and helps to connect us with others who want to support people with disabilities. In addition to hosting the wine tasting party, Mona played a major role in helping to connect German American Bank to LIFEDesigns for the Angel Tree. The project was very successful the first year, employees, bank clients, and people from the community enjoyed choosing a wish list. This year, we’ve received several phone calls and emails from people in the community who want to help, and have absolutely no connection with either German American Bank or LIFEDesigns. We’re excited to see the engagement from the community grow.
Mona was surprised that many of her friends did not know about LIFEDesigns which gave her the idea to plan a fundraising event to help others learn about our mission and generate new donors. Mona invited 20 of her friends to her house to taste delicious wines. This fun social event raised $3,750 for our endowment held at the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. Mona, a very humble woman, did not wish to be acknowledged too abundantly for her efforts. She said that “seeing the work LIFEDesigns does with clients just melts my heart” and she wanted to help. We thank Mona for all of her support, and hope that this can serve as an idea that will help others create similar experiences!