Meet Kati

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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.

Angel Tree Success!

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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.

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A Little Holiday Inspiration from Jake

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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!

Meet Jewel

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Jewel is a very talented musician and artist. She came to LIFEDesigns for help finding a job. During the time we’ve been working with her, in addition to employment services we’ve hosted a work experience for her, contracted her to paint a painting for our office lobby, hired her temporarily to assist with graphic designs for the Week of Chocolate event marketing, and hired her to play her cello at some of our events. Jewel is amazing. She has so much to offer to employers, friends, and the community. Jewel has worked with a few different employment consultants with us. She is currently working with our newest employment consultant Jennifer Jones. Jennifer has a background in art and graphic design. Her pairing with Jewel has been serendipitous. Jennifer is currently working with Jewel to help her develop her art portfolio and giving her ideas for new projects to work on which will enhance her portfolio. Jewel is very excited at the prospect of working with Jennifer and focusing on further developing her graphic design portfolio.

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Jewel’s painting hanging in LIFEDesigns lobby
Jewel’s father really enjoys listening to her play music. When we asked Jewel to play background music at an event on her cello, she was very excited, and spent hours at home practicing and preparing for the event. We received so many compliments from guests at the first event, that we invited Jewel to play at our Donor Reception this month! She’s looking forward to it, and it’s a great opportunity for her to earn some extra cash while refining her skills and presenting herself publicly as a professional musician. We’re also planning on her playing her keyboard at the Art of Chocolate February 22, 2020 featuring jazz numbers during the social hour before dinner.

Jewel is currently seeking employment. She is looking for part-time, full-time, temporary, or contract based work either as a graphic designer, painter, or musician. If you’re interested in hiring Jewel for a party, contracting some graphic design or drawing/painting artwork out, or interviewing her for a position, please contact jljones@lifedesignsinc.org.

Angel Tree Party

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On Wednesday, November 14, the LIFEDesigns office was filled with extra holiday cheer in celebration of our Angel Tree Ornament Decorating Party! This party was held so that our clients could have a warm, friendly space to craft small angel ornaments as a gift to the community member who fulfilled their angel wish list. LIFEDesigns staff got into the spirit as well. Holiday music was played from the overhead speakers, hot chocolate and cookies were served, and our office manager, Vern Hageman greeted clients and their staff dressed as an elf. This event was great for our clients as they got to interact with friends they hadn’t seen in awhile and staff members too.

The decorated ornaments will be displayed on the Angel Trees at German American Bank locations in Bloomington and Bedford for community members to select and fulfill this year’s holiday wishes.

Job-A-Palooza 2019

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LIFEDesigns and Stone Belt proudly collaborated to create an event, funded by a grant from Duke Energy for $5,500. This allowed individuals with disabilities to try out a wide variety of jobs in one day. On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, the Warehouse was open to Job-A-Palooza participants for a day to talk with local employers in different fields, try out different tasks and jobs from each business, and participate in mock interviews.

Throughout the day, participants were able to visit and chat with each employer at their booth. As part of the registration process, attendees were given a set of questions regarding their interest and abilities, and then matched with an employer that best fit with their responses. Mock interviews were also held during this time, where individuals had the opportunity to participate in an interview and was followed up with feedback from our mock interviewers.

Mayor's Proclamation

The City of Bloomington Mayor’s Proclamation was also read at the event, which stated the October 2019 as Disability Awareness Month in Bloomington, Indiana. A statement from the Proclamation: “WHEREAS, Bloomington is a model employer for individuals with disabilities, and understands that competitive employment in the community is the first and preferred outcome for all working-age people with disabilities.”

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Jake and Robert got to try out their skills at several different stations during this event, and learned some things they didn’t know before. Like many people, Jake was a bit hesitant to try many of the skills stations. Jake is an extremely outgoing person, and generally loves to be social. Yet, when it came to putting yourself out there and trying something new, it was a difficult challenge for him. Walking around the event for the first time, he decided he didn’t want to try any of the stations. Walking around a second time with Kristen to support him, he still didn’t want to try any of the stations…until he saw someone he knew at one of the stations. They waved him over and encouraged him to try the station out. When he was finished he saw his scoring, and when he saw how well he performed he got very excited. This led to him trying other stations, and generally exploring a lot of possibilities he never would have considered. There were many other stories similar to this where, someone discovered a job that they wouldn’t have previously considered. There were also several requests from businesses that they wanted to actually interview some of the candidates that they met through the event for open positions they currently have. Overall, this was a huge success and lots of fun for everyone involved.

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The employer lineup for the day included:

Stone Belt
LIFEDesigns
SCCAP
IU Health Community Health
U.S. Census Bureau
Indiana Institute on Disability and Community – Indiana University
Domino’s
AMC Theatres
Williams Brothers Health Care Pharmacy
Sazon Mexican Cuisine
My Sister’s Closet
Upland Brewing Company
Cook Medical
Kroger’s
Monroe County Humane Association
Callie & Company Entertainment
Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity
Chick Fil A
Community Ford Lincoln of Bloomington
Salt Creek Cycles
One World Catering
One World at Woolery Mill
Work To Include