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.
Aubree Smith received Employment Services from LIFEDesigns and as a result has found her dream job at Goodwill, she has been employed at Goodwill for an amazing 8 years! She works as a rack runner and loves it. Goodwill has named Aubree employee of the month twice and Aubree is super happy. LIFEDesigns was Aubree’s choice for employment services because of the options and opportunities that were presented to her. Not to mention the amazing friends and connections she has made. These connections at LIFEDesigns have also helped tremendously with quarantine in the face of COVID-19. For Aubree the virtual tours and action club meeting held through Zoom have helped her connect with her friends and with the community. Aubree would recommend LIFEDesigns to anyone with a disability looking for unemployment services or great connections because of how great her experience has been.
We feel honored to know Stacey now for several years. Since getting to know her, we’ve been able to support Stacey to help her find a job she enjoys at McDonald’s. Like many people, when she first learned of the COVID-19 pandemic and started to hear about the effects it was going to have on local businesses, she was afraid that she might lose her job or be laid off.
Recently, before any news of COVID-19, Stacey had set one of her new goals related to employment: “To advocate for herself at work to learn more skills.” Stacey’s primary responsibilities at McDonald’s had been working in the lobby. When the lobby closed because of COVID-19, she thought she wasn’t going to be able to keep working. To her surprise and delight, she was ecstatic to learn that she is now considered an “essential employee”! To earn this designation, Stacey had expressed her interest in learning new skills with her employer. As a result she had learned to make fries and help with other things in the kitchen so she would still be able to work. We’re so happy for her, and honored to have been able to provide her the support she needed to gain confidence and advocate for her own interests.
This week we would like to give extra special recognition and thanks to our amazing Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and Team Managers who have been continuing to work with our clients. It has been a challenging, and somewhat uncertain time with the social distancing, and the Governor’s shelter in place executive order. Yet through all of this, our clients still rely on their staff being with them. Many of our clients are getting restless and sometimes tensions between roommates are high. Our DSPs are doing their best to be creative and provide engaging activities to do in the home. In some cases, our staff are playing the role of “teacher” for students who are now doing “school at home”. Here’s a letter we recently received from a family member of one of our clients. It was really moving and we thought you might want to read it as well:
“I just want to take this opportunity to share my feelings with the Direct Support Professionals, Nurses, and Administrative Directors of LIFEDesigns. A year ago almost to the date, I brought my sister home from the hospital after battling Type A influenza in the ICU. The support we received from LIFEDesigns nurses and staff while in the hospital was incredible and much needed. A few weeks later, the leadership of my sister’s support staff walked out on the same day. The veteran leaders, managers and DSP’s of LIFEDesigns took on extra hours to keep my sister and her roommate healthy and safe.
As of today, I haven’t been able to see my sister for 17 days and I won’t be able to see her again until April 7th. Because of a much needed vacation I’m self quarantined and I would not want to put my sister or anyone else’s health in jeopardy. That said, as a guardian/brother I would be out of my mind without the support provided by LifeDesigns DSP’s, Nurses and Staff. So for all the good guardians in this world we thank you!!! Not just because you do your job, but because you care and you make personal sacrifices to keep our loved ones healthy and safe. May God bless your families and keep them healthy and safe!!”
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.