Omarrie loves having a safe and happy environment that meets his wants and needs and LIFEDesigns has been that place for him for nearly 20 years! He likes music, playing outside, and hanging out with friends. LIFEDesigns provides Omarrie with opportunities to engage in all of his favorite activities and participate fully in the community. We have loved building a lasting relationship with him while watching him grow towards achieving independence.
Jeff Mendenhall looks downright intimidating and, indeed, with his history of martial arts and wrestling, he probably can back it up. But this incredible, real-life superhero instead chooses to save lives and to put his strength to good use helping others as a DSP.
His visual impairment might come as a surprise to some people (because he owns his space with confidence and compassion) but that makes sense because he doesn’t really pay it any heed himself. In fact, he makes it a point to tell any frustrated trainees that yes, he does know what it’s like. “Two days a week, I glove up.” he says with a grin. The three days a week that he isn’t gloving up to care for others, he works as an educator for LIFEDesigns employees in the Development Department.
History has led him from a lonely kid who was picked on, to a professional athlete, a stand-up comedian fronting for Jeff Foxworthy, a college graduate with several degrees, to a professorship, to working at LIFEDesigns, Inc. He tells us about his interview saying that Lisa and Hailey asked if he wanted to work in a more creative field.
Jeff’s days begin with some exercise and then his preparation for work begins. He is present to teach, informally advise, and help anyone who requires training. Jeff’s favorite part of his work is connecting to his clients, forming close bonds, learning about their beliefs and cultures, and discovering what’s happening in their lives. His big-hearted approach to his work with LIFEDesigns doesn’t extend only to people. He also loves and connects to our furry family as well, with one adorable cat named Harlequin, (named after the masked character from old style puppet shows.
Welcome to the team, Jeff!
We don’t think anyone will dispute that 2020 has been a difficult year. However, we want to focus on the positive and celebrate some successes despite all the barriers that Covid created. 21 LIFEDesigns employment clients found gainful employment in the community they live in making competitive wages during the 2020 year. The average rate of pay for those job placements is $12.04 an hour which is up from 2019. Several clients were offered employment at over $17 an hour. While 13 clients with active VR cases were laid off due to Covid, 8 of those employees have returned back to work. LIFEDesigns received less Vocational Rehabilitation referrals this past year and our Employment Consultants closed over 15 cases successfully.
Our Employment Consultants have been treating all the barriers as if they are just minor inconveniences and have continued to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the support they need to continue on their path to independence. Well done employment team!
Todd Wagner has worked as a Direct Support Professional and Medical Coordinator at LIFEDesigns for 25 years. We recently interviewed him about his time and at LIFEDesigns and he shared his accomplishments, goals, and advice for future employees. Check out our interview with Todd below!
How long have you worked at LIFEDesigns?
I’ve worked at LIFEDesigns for 25 years.
What is your current position?
I currently am a DSP at Jefferson Group Home.
What positions have you held in the past?
I’ve always been a DSP at Jefferson except for about 8 months I was the Medical Coordinator at Jefferson Group Home. I’ve always worked the overnight shift and when I went to working days as the medical coordinator I didn’t sleep very well so I went back to working the overnights.
What is your favorite part about working at LIFEDesigns? Any particularly fond memories you would like to share?
My favorite part working there is the clients. Seeing them accomplish things makes me happy. I really miss the group of people that lived at Jefferson when I first started working there. It was like a family and they were a great group of people to work with.
What is your hope for the future of LIFEDesigns?
I guess for the future of LIFEDesigns would be to keep promoting independent living and participation in the community for people with disabilities.
What advice would you give to someone interested in your line of work?
I would tell anyone that wants to work in this field that it can be very rewarding but at times it can be frustrating. But I think the good times far out weigh the bad. And don’t take things personal.
Please VOTE for LIFEDesigns and help us WIN!
Voting is now open at German American Bank’s 3930 S. Walnut Street office. Stop by now through December 19th to place your vote for LIFEDesigns.
German American Bank is generously donating a total of $10,000 to local Bloomington non-profit agencies. You may only vote at the new office either in person or through the drive thru at 3930 S. Walnut Street. The three non-profits with the most votes will each win $3,333! One vote per person.
Each year, we do the best we can to include all our clients in holiday cheer, and this year is no different! Despite the challenges this year has brought us, we still have many reasons to celebrate and get into the holiday spirit.
LIFEDesigns supports about 40-50 clients who do not have anyone in their lives to spend the holidays with. Our annual Angel Tree is our way of providing them with the holiday giving experience they so desire. Each client that is on the Angel Tree list gets to create a wish list, which is shared with our community at German American Banks in Bloomington and Bedford. Each tree is decorated with angel ornaments that has an Angel Tree tag attached that shares the clients wish list. Anyone thanks works, banks at or visits a German American Bank can grab an ornament and contribute to helping get that client their wish for Christmas.
Each year we are so honored to see how much our community supports this event and our mission. We had amazing success last year and every client’s wish list was fulfilled! We are so grateful for German American Bank and their ongoing support and generosity. We are excited to see the trees again this year, along with the smiles on our clients faces when they receive their presents.
If you are interested in giving back this holiday season, visit a German American Bank in Bloomington and/or Bedford. The trees will be set up Friday, November 27, 2020 and we are asking all gifts be returned to German American Bank by Thursday, December 17, 2020. If you have any questions, please contact our Director of Community Relations, Kristen King at firstname.lastname@example.org. Locations of German American branches are below:
3930 S. Walnut St., Bloomington, IN.
2614 E. 3rd St., Bloomington, IN.
504 N. College, Bloomington, IN.
2606 W. 16th St., Bedford, IN.
1502 I St., Bedford, IN.