Golf for Independence 2021

Last Wednesday, we hosted our 5th Annual Golf Scramble on September 20, 2021 at the Salt Creek Golf Retreat in Nashville, IN and it was a huge success! Despite having to reschedule our original date due to unsafe weather circumstances, we had 18 teams signed up to play and out of those teams, 14 were able participate on our rain date, which helped us raise over $13,000 net profit for our agency! We could not have asked for better weather on the day of the event, everyone had an enjoyable experience. This event would not have been achievable without our sponsors, donors, volunteers and the amazing hosts and employees at the Salt Creek Golf Retreat (click here to see our 2021 sponsors). We are so grateful to have so many relationships, partnerships and supporters within our community.

Everyone loves a little competition, so we decided to add a few to this year’s scramble. We had a great time watching the golfers compete in the Longest Drive and Longest Put contest, and of course our favorite, The Hula Hole! The Hula Hole is also a long-time favorite at the golf scramble, as everyone gets a kick out of seeing a teammate dress up in a hula skirt and coconut shells! We had so many wonderful donations for our raffle prizes and we thank everyone who participated in the 50/50 raffle and other activities at the scramble. Thanks to everyone for being a part of this event and helping us provide, support and promote independence for individuals with disabilities. We hope to see you again next year!

Fundraising events play a significant role at LIFEDesigns. They help raise funds for our programs and also give us the opportunity to meet with people and other organizations in our community we otherwise may have never met before. These events are a great and fun way to give and get an enjoyable experience in return for everyone involved! 


Introducing Shannon Wilson, our new Continuous Quality Improvement Specialist!

We are so excited to introduce a new member of the LIFEDesigns team, Shannon Wilson, our Continuous Quality Improvement Specialist! As the CQIS, Shannon will be playing a key role in agency certification and accreditation processes and facilitating processes to ensure adherence to all regulation and credentialing procedures while providing a safe and supportive environment in all settings for employees and clients to further the agency mission: “Partnering with people of all ages and abilities to lead meaningful and active lives.”

Advocacy has been a goal of Shannon’s from the beginning and has been the basis of many trainings that she has had though different agencies including the Governor’s Planning Council for People with Disabilities, INARF, INSOURCE and Easter Seals. When we asked Shannon what her goal would be as the CQIS, she stated “In this role, I see myself as someone who can hopefully open people’s eyes to just what Equity versus Equality actually means while making sure that everyone involved is working “smarter” not “harder” by supporting our clients instead of parenting or controlling them and remembering our role is to teach and mentor, and not in any way disrespect, dehumanize or devalue the people we actually work for.”

Shannon also told us that this new adventure is something she takes very seriously on a personal level. The CQIS role relates closely to her education goals, and she is excited to now be part of an agency that truly does what their mission states.

Welcome, Shannon! We can’t wait to see what you can do for our agency, clients, and community!

Meet Rebecca, LIFEDesigns Continuous Quality Improvement Manager!

We are thrilled to welcome (back) the new Continuous Quality Improvement Manager (CQIM), Rebecca Chambers, to the LIFEDesigns team! Rebecca is very experienced in a number of roles regarding support for individuals with disabilities and health concerns. She worked for LIFEDesigns as a Medical Coordinator, QIDP, and Network Director in 2009, but left to continue a different career path as a Social Service Director in long term care. Because of Rebecca’s long-time experience in this field, she felt she needed to do more by being a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in Social Science and a master’s degree in Management.  

As the CQIM, Rebecca facilitates processes to ensure adherence to all regulation and credentialing procedures while providing a safe and supportive environment in all setting for employees and clients to further the agency’s mission in partnering with and promoting independence for people with disabilities. Rebecca will be playing a key role in agency certification and accreditation processes.  

We’re happy to have you back, Rebecca! Thanks for all you do!  

Job-A-Palooza Employer Town Hall

In this time of unprecedented labor shortages, LIFEDesigns, Stone Belt and Work to Include are holding an Employer Town Hall to assist local businesses to connect with talent with disabilities and the resources that can help promote a truly diverse workforce.

The session will be 10/27 from 8:30 am to 10 am, both in-person and online. The in-person session will be held at the Dimension Mill (642 N. Madison Street Bloomington, IN 47404) AND online via zoom. Click here to register online.

This engaging and interactive session is designed to highlight the benefits of hiring talent with disabilities and get your help to design a talent pipeline for youth and adults while addressing some of the barriers business faces, like: reasonable accommodations, retention, co-worker training and accessing tax incentives. Through small group discussion, you will leave with a plan for how your business can succeed, while supporting this important part of your workforce.

Parking in front of the Mill is permit parking only. You can park in the meter parking spots on 11th Street, or on Morton or use the new parking garage on 10th Street. There is free two-hour parking on Rogers Street. We are not responsible for any tickets for parking in front of the Mill or if anyone is towed from the parking lot that is located in the South end of the building.

Building a Better, More Inclusive Community

Our services provide the support people with disabilities need to gain access to their community in their daily lives. Engaging in community activities brings opportunities of learning, understanding, awareness, and so much more. Sometimes, people with certain kinds of disabilities have greater difficulty interacting in social encounters. Learning to “fit in” to society can be challenging, especially for someone with an intellectual disability. Engaging in conversation, maintaining eye contact, or trying something new can be a scary experience, which is why we provide support services for those we serve.

LIFEDesigns offers emotional and social supports to teach the skills needed to learn social and professional expectations. These skills cannot be taught by sitting at home in isolation. We encourage our Direct Support Professionals and those who work hands-on with our clients to engage in community activities like visiting a new store, trying a new hobby, eating new foods, etc. Our clients greatly need these support services to achieve independence and accomplish their goals! When you donate to LIFEDesigns, you’re contributing to a better, more inclusive community where everyone is valued, and everyone belongs. Click here to make a donation and learn more about services, our clients need you!

LIFEDesigns CEO, Russell J. Bonanno MEd, is receiving Executive Leadership Award at the INARF Conference 2021

CEO of LIFEDesigns, Russell J. Bonanno, has been selected to be the recipient of the INARF 2021 James M. Hammond III Executive Leadership AwardINARF plans to honor and pay special tribute to Russell (and Max his service animal) at the 2021 INARF Annual Conference Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, October 6thNoon – 1:30 PM at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Noblesville Indianapolis Conference Center, 13700 Conference Center Dr. South Noblesville, IN.

Before the Annual Conference Awards Luncheon takes place, INARF asks their agency members to submit nominations for the awards given out. It was fairly easy for our employees to compose this nomination and the endless reasons why Russell deserves this award. The nomination that was submitted on Russell’s behalf is below and perfectly explains why he is so deserving of the 2021 James M. Hammond III Executive Leadership Award:

“Whether he is giving the keynote address at the “Targeting Autism National Forum”, teaching at Boston University Medical School, advocating for greater access to resources or inclusion in the community for individuals with Autism/IDD, or weighing in on the ethical implications about the use of video cameras in clients’ homes and whether they are really necessary, Russ Bonanno works tirelessly to enrich the lives of individuals with disabilities, their families, and their communities.

On any given day in our office, when you see Max (Russ’s service dog) you will soon see Russ. When speaking to him, it is clear that you always have his full attention. If he doesn’t have an immediate solution or piece of advice, you can rest assured that the next time you see or talk to him he will have spent time and done research and can give you a thoughtful response, creative solutions, specific websites to look at, or direct you to other resources to guide you in your quest to figure something out. 

His diverse background gives him a unique perspective and allows him to guide those around him to fulfill our agency mission “to partner with and promote independence for people with disabilities”. Russ not only leads the organization, but he guides those around him and develops them by assisting them in solving problems and coming up with creative solutions. Russ meets with all departments on a regular basis to ensure they are making progress on goals and have access to needed resources to get the job done. Russ leads and guides his executive staff by example preferring to trust those around him to come up with their own creative solutions. 

With his guidance, our organization has been able to work within our current funding to increase the wages of DSPs to $13.00/hr. because they are critical to our client’s success and the economic sustainability of our agency. This wage increase sets an example for organizations across the state of the value that should be placed on DSPs and the importance of their role in client success. Russ is also working to provide access to development opportunities that will further increase DSPs value to the organization and to the clients with the eventual goal of increasing client outcomes and reducing turnover costs for the agency.

Throughout his life and his entire professional career, Russ has strived to make others’ lives better. He has done this by working directly with clients, families, key stake holders, and other organizations executives. He spends time lobbying elected officials to make them aware of the need for funding that will enhance our employees and clients lives. He spends time developing those around him so they can also make a bigger impact on the quality of services provided to individuals with disabilities. No matter who Russ is talking to, he always has his finger on the pulse of what is happening and is there to guide the ship for the benefit of the clients.

Click here to learn more about the INARF 2021 Annual Awards