Summer Event Fundraising Report

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This summer we wanted to host several events that would not just raise money for our programs, but also help increase our agency name and mission recognition in the community. This summer we hosted a 5K & picnic, the Toast of the Town 3-part beverage tasting series, and several dine and donate events with local restaurants. At all of the events, we felt really good about the turnout we had. We’re very grateful to all the volunteers and sponsors who helped to make these events successful. We hope these summer events will turn into annual events and happen again in 2020!

The See the Abilities 5K Walk/Run was on July 20, 2019. We had about 40 participants, and raised just over $1600. It was a hot day, but lots of fun. Several of our clients were very excited to participate in this as well. We had a great turnout for the first year, considering there was also another 5K the same day in Bedford.

Toast of the Town at Oliver Winery, Upland Brewing Co., and Cardinal Spirits on June 30, July 27, August 24. Overall we sold 37 tickets to all 3 events, and had an average of about 13-15 attendees at each of the three events. We raised just over $1000 from the 3 events combined, and the guests really enjoyed the experience and indicated they would attend the events again in the future.

Our final event ending our summer event series will be our benefit concert at Mike’s Dance Barn in Nashville, IN on August 30th at 6:30 pm. When we did this once before during the Week of Chocolate earlier this year, we were able to raise just over $700.00 from the event, and hope to top that number this time.

We hosted restaurant dine and donate events over the summer: 1 at Applebees, 2 at Texas Roadhouse in Bloomington, 1 at Avers Pizza, 1 at Chipotle, and 1 at Texas Roadhouse in Columbus (planned for September 24). We hope to continue to offer these events throughout the year as an easy way to support LIFEDesigns while doing the activities you already enjoy. Through the dine and donate events we were able to raise over $250 so far, and we still have a few more left for this year! We’re so grateful to all of the restaurants that partner with us on these events. See our events page for more upcoming events.

Other fundraising programs we participate in are Kroger Rewards and Amazon Smile. So far in 2019, we’ve received $249.70 from Kroger Rewards program, and $52.95 from Amazon Smile program. Big thanks to everyone who shops at Kroger’s or Amazon Smile to support LIFEDesigns! To learn how you can support LIFEDesigns through these shopping programs, see our fundraising page.

All Abilities Choir

Lauren & Jake Co-directors The All Abilities Choir is a new activity that LIFEDesigns has been able to facilitate for our clients and members of the community. The story about the All Abilities Choir really starts with Jake. Jake is an outgoing young man who loves music and baseball. Like any young person, Jake has big dreams. In recent years, LIFEDesigns has started a new planning process to help our clients identify what their dreams in life are, and set achievable milestone goals to help them make steps toward achieving their dream. Jake participated in this planning process in the past couple years, and through that process, we learned 2 things about Jake: that he really wants to be choir director, and that he wants to learn how to play baseball. In 2014, it was Jake who started our annual talent show for clients. Every year at the talent show it’s been a tradition for everyone who participates to join in together in the very last act and sing a song as a group. They’ve chosen some really fun songs over the years, such as the IU “This is Indiana” song, and the “Can’t Stop This Feeling (Dance, Dance, Dance)” song from the movie Trolls. This annual tradition inspired Jake to ask, “Why can’t we do this more than one time per year? We should practice together more often…” Through this idea and the support of Kristen King, our Community Engagement Coordinator the All Abilities Choir was born. The choir is for anyone who enjoys music. For Jake, “it means coming together and bonding through music”. There are currently 25 members including 5 volunteers who meet every other Wednesday from 4:15-5:15 at Arlington Heights to practice together. Each practice they practice singing 3 songs. Right now they’re giving a lot of time to practicing the National Anthem “Star Spangled Banner” because they’ll be performing that at LIFEDesigns upcoming golf outing, and at a North South Highschool basketball game.

Jake and Lauren (pictured above) are co-directors and help to guide the practices, but everyone involved has the opportunity to share their ideas, and the group tries singing different songs in different ways based on requests from all members. For Lauren, this was a great opportunity to get more involved with the community through volunteering.

“As much as I love studying music in an educational environment, the competitive side of the industry can often bring out the worst in people. There are many musicians both in the educational and real world motivated by self-interest and a desire for notoriety. This has always been a part of the culture of the music world, but I have struggled with this piece of my career and education. Volunteering allows me to reconnect to my own passions and the reason I want to be involved with music—to influence and positively inspire others.” 

We believe this choir is a great example of how volunteers and community members can help to make the community as a whole more inclusive to all people. People with developmental disabilities are so often isolated in society. This choir and LIFEMentor Volunteers are a great way to start making connections between community members and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To join the choir, email or call Kristen King or (812) 332-9615.

To see upcoming events where the choir will perform, go to our Event’s page.

Employee Wage Increase

LIFEDesigns increased wages by $3.00/hour effective in May.

We’re so excited to announce that through your support and careful planning, we were able to increase all employees’ wages by $3.00/hour this summer! This is really important to our clients, because we’ve been struggling to hire and keep good DSP’s (especially over the past 5 years). Since making this change, our current employees have been very happy (we’ve received lots of positive comments!), and we’ve been able to attract a lot of new employees. During the months of June and July we’ve hired around twice as many people as we’ve lost. We’ve also been steadily decreasing the number of hours we have to hire contract temporary direct support employees (which actually costs us about $5.00/hour). These are very positive signs as a direct result of the wage increase. We’re hoping over time to see that we’ll be able to be fully staffed and eventually be able to start accepting new clients again. This also means we’ll be able to serve our clients better by providing staff for all their available hours. This is also expected to help us keep our good employees for longer, and give us the opportunity to develop new employees into good and great employees. 

Friendships for Our Clients


Meet Jason (pictured above with his team manager Layla)

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Jason a little bit over the past couple of months. Jason is someone who is very outgoing, polite, likes to hang out with friends, and really enjoys being around other people.

Jason was born in Bloomington, but grew up hunting and fishing with his “PaPaw” in Bloomfield. He also really enjoyed 4-wheeling and racing go-carts, and always knew the best places to find mushrooms. When he was 15 he was in a very bad car accident and ended up spending the next 5 months of his life at Methodist Hospital in a coma most of the time. When he woke, he did extensive physical therapy and occupational therapy, but experienced traumatic brain injury. After the accident he experienced permanent changes in memory, attention, impulsivity, depression, and anxiety.

I invited Jason to attend the Toast of the Town events at Oliver Winery (June 30), Cardinal Spirits (July 27), and Upland Brewery (August 24), because he seemed interested in attending, and I know he appreciates getting time out in the community to meet new people. He doesn’t have staff supports on the weekends, so I decided to give him a ride to the events myself. During the time I spent with Jason, I learned that he really enjoys his job at Texas Roadhouse, and likes getting to see people from work. He also really wants to be able to meet someone he could have a relationship with. Jason would love to have a family of his own some day.
Reflecting on this, I realize just how important it is for the people LIFEDesigns supports to have friends in their life who aren’t staff. For Jason to get chances to meet someone he might be able to fall in love with, he needs to be able to regularly attend various social activities. Jason is not the only person I’ve gotten to know at LIFEDesigns who feels this way. Our LIFEMentor program is designed to support community members to have positive long term friendships with our clients. It’s such a simple way to have a huge impact. Learn more about becoming a mentor and friend on our volunteer page.