LIFEDesigns’ Board Voted to Combine LIFEDesigns, Inc. with Developmental Services, Inc. (DSI)

On November 1, 2021, LIFEDesigns’ Board of Directors unanimously voted to combine LIFEDesigns, Inc. with Developmental Services, Inc. (DSI), taking effect December 1, 2021.

While both agencies are successful and financially sound, this is a strategic decision to
take a proactive step to ensure the sustainability of both organizations well into the
future. LIFEDesigns and DSI are strong agencies, providing high quality services that
boast substantial capital and program influence in Indiana and are often the models for
service innovation and quality within the industry. LIFEDesigns and DSI also have a
decade long history of working together, sharing resources and best practice standards
through the industry’s trade association, INARF, and the Strategic Indiana Provider
Network (SIPN). This partnership has resulted in the agency to becoming one of the
largest non-profit organizations in Indiana helping those with disabilities.
LIFEDesigns and DSI will remain in their respective local communities and continue to
provide the high quality services the disabled population is accustomed to receiving.
Families and caregivers have not seen and will not see any disruption in services from the

DSI and LIFEDesigns will continue to use their respective logos and operate under their
respective mission and visions. Local donations will stay local. There has been no loss of
jobs or programs since the partnership took effect, and the partnership is committed to
maintaining this — no employees will lose their jobs and no programming will be cut.

“The decision by the Board to combine with DSI is proactive and strategic – as human
service agencies we are staying ahead of the curve and making the best decisions possible
for the individuals with disabilities in our great state of Indiana. We will be better and
more successful together, and I am excited for the future opportunities this brings,” stated
LIFEDesigns’ Chief Executive Officer, Russell Bonanno.

“Together, we will be able to offer more comprehensive services to clients. Our partnership
will provide more resources and high-quality programming to those with disabilities across
southern and central Indiana.” said Shane Burton, Chief Executive Officer of DSI.

Agencies’ Histories:

LIFEDesigns was formed through a 2012 partnership between Options and Christole.
Both agencies grew from the same grassroots efforts grounded in local, nonprofit
services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their
families. Several families wanted to better meet the residential and long-term care
needs of their children than was available at that time. Better Living for Special
People (BLSP) and Christole both opened in 1981. These families felt smaller, more
personal homes would provide a greater quality of life for their children than
institutions or nursing homes. BLSP served Monroe, Owen, and Lawrence counties,
providing respite for 22 families in their first year, later adding group home,
independent living, and community-based supports. The name changed to Options
for Better Living, Inc. in 1990 and was shortened to Options in 2007. Separately,
Christole grew to 7 group homes in Monroe, Brown, and Bartholomew counties by
2011. LIFEDesigns now provides an array of services including employment supports,
group home, independent and supported living, respite, and family supports.
Developmental Services, Inc., or better known as DSI, was established in 1975 and
provides early intervention for infants and toddlers, residential living options, job
training, placement and follow-along, respite care, family support, and
individualized community-based services. DSI serves over 40 counties in Southern
Indiana with 11 facility locations, and headquarters in Columbus, Indiana.

If you have any questions regarding this merger, please email

LIFEDesigns & German American Bank Partner for Angel Trees 2021

Happy Holidays! At LIFEDesigns we believe that everyone deserves the chance to celebrate the season of giving and be included.  We provide services and supports to people with disabilities and work towards more inclusive communities that value active citizenship and fulfilling relationships. Every year we strive to spread cheer to the individuals we serve by making sure no one goes without gifts on Christmas. That is where our annual Angel Tree comes in!


The Angel Trees will be located at the German American Banks in Bloomington and Bedford starting Friday, Nov. 26th. Typically, we support about 50 individuals who do not have anyone to spend the holidays with, so our Angel Tree is our way of providing this holiday giving experience to clients they so desire. If you’re looking to give back this Holiday season, look for an Angel Tree at the selected German American Banks. Clients on the list each have their own beautifully decorated ornament where you can find a short description of the client and a few items they would love for Christmas.  

All gifts must be turned in by Thursday, December 16th at one of the German American branches:

504 N. College Ave., Bloomington, IN 47404

3930 S. Walnut St., Bloomington, IN 47401

2614 E. 3rd St., Bloomington, IN 47401

2606 16th St., Bedford, IN 47421

A special thanks to

Thank you for helping us make a difference in someone’s life this holiday season. Please contact us with any questions.



DDRS Calls for Direct Support Workers to Join Advisory Group

DDRS has put out a call for Direct Support Workers to join an advisory group that they are starting in 2022 to help understand the needs of our most valuable employees from them directly. Please feel free to share with staff or others who may be interested.

The state of Indiana is looking for 8-10 direct support workers to serve on an advisory group to share your experiences and needs. The state knows that you are the backbone of the long term services and supports system.

Who: Direct support workers help older adults and people with disabilities to work and live where they want. This includes individual homes, assisted living facilities, nursing facilities, group homes or a home shared with their caregiver.

Examples of direct support workers include:

  • Home health aides
  • Personal care attendants
  • Certified nursing assistants
  • Licensed vocational nurses
  • Direct support professionals
  • Community health workers

Please note: We are not looking for directors, managers, owners or other administrative staff to apply. We want to hear directly from the staff working in the field and providing care and support to others.

What: We want to hear:

  • What is important to you?
  • What training would be helpful for your job?
  • What, if any, barriers exist to staying in your job as a direct support worker?
  • What would help you continue to stay in your job as a direct support worker?

When: Beginning in early 2022, the advisory group will meet at least four times a year for the next three years. We know your time is valuable – advisory group members will receive a gift card for participation.

How: If you would like to join the Direct Support Workers Advisory Group, please complete this form by clicking here or contact April Young at or 202-898-2578 by Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

Please consider sharing this message with our networks and encourage direct support workers to apply. Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration is making a concerted effort to thoughtfully capture direct support worker feedback and wants the group to be as reflective of the workforce population as possible; therefore, we are looking for diverse representation from across the state.

Southwest Airlines One Million Acts of Kindness

Southwest Airlines is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of its first flight this year! In honor of celebrating half a century of connecting people and championing communities to lead with heart and kindness, Southwest launched the one million Acts of Kindness challenge contest. This contest offered non-profit organizations an opportunity to win 100 domestic one-way Southwest Airlines travel awards, which granted travel to nonprofit organizations across the country that each won 100 domestic one-way tickets.

We’re thrilled to announce that LIFEDesigns has been selected as one of the charitable organizations to receive air travel as part of the Southwest Airlines One Million Dollars of Thanks contest! This award will help us spread kindness in the community and being able to gift our clients with this opportunity brings indescribable joy. Thank you, Southwest Airlines, for this donation and support of our work! We are proud to be one of the charitable organizations selected to receive this donation on behalf of their part of their One Million Dollars of Thanks contest. Stay tuned for details on how we plan to use this special travel award to help Southwest further spread kindness.

Southwest Airlines reached its one millionth Act of Kindness in September, months ahead of our end of year goal. To continue its quest for kindness, Southwest Airlines announced a one million dollars of thanks contest. The total travel prize is more than 5,000 domestic one-way Southwest Airlines travel awards at over $1 million, bolstering one million Acts of Kindness already recorded in 2021.

Southwest Airlines Executive Quote in Press Release:

“As the airline with Heart, kindness has been one of our guiding principles for our 50 years of service to our Customers and the communities of which we are a part. It’s incredibly fitting that we  celebrate our 50th anniversary and our one million Acts of Kindness Challenge by supporting organizations who are working today and every day to spread kindness in their communities,” said Linda Rutherford, Executive Vice President People & Communications. “We’re thrilled to support these organizations and the impactful ways their missions help spread kindness.”

Click here to read more on Southwest Airlines One Million Acts of Kindness

Raising Funds for The United Way

Each year in October, LIFEDesigns holds an in-office campaign to raise funds for The United Way. As a member agency, LIFEDesigns is committed to supporting the United Way’s mission to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good. Here at LIFEDesigns, we like to have a little fun with our campaign activities. Throughout the month of October, our employees participated in 2 activities: Jeans for a Cause and Penny Wars. These campaign activities helped us raise over $445 for the United Way!

Both Jeans for a Cause and Penny Wars are annual activities that everyone loves to participate in. Jeans for a Cause allows employees the opportunity to wear jeans to work Monday-Thursday (Friday’s are always casual here). This year, Jeans for a Cause raised a total of $109 for the United Way!

Penny Wars is our most anticipated campaign activity. Before we begin on Oct. 1, we ask staff to nominate a fellow colleague to be part of the Penny Wars. After nominations are sent, we place 12 jars in our lobby that display the 12 chosen employees that will be fighting for change. This year, we held the ultimate Penny War, where silver change were counted for positive points, and pennies were worth minus $1 each. This activity is an all-time favorite because the 3 nominees with the lowest amount of points get a special “pie” to the face at our annual Halloween Party. We are thrilled to announce that Penny Wars raised a total of $338.42!

In total, LIFEDesigns raised $447.42 for The United Way! The United Way plays a significant role in our community, as the United Way Member Agencies work together to make sure that all members of the community of various ages and facing different struggles receive the support they need. LIFEDesigns is a proud member of this agency and look forward to doing our part in supporting them each year.

To learn more about The United Way, click here!

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!