August 2020 Newsletter

It has been a busy summer for LIFEDesigns! Since the pandemic began, we have been adjusting to our new ‘normal’ regarding events, client activities and overall day-to-day tasks for our administrative staff.

From fundraising to planning future events and more, we have been making sure to stick to our mission, despite this abnormal summer. To see what we’ve been up to, check out our August 2020 Newsletter!

Meet Jennifer!

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The past few months have demonstrated the resilience and adaptivity  our staff, clients and caregivers. When the Governor mandated Indiana’s stay-at-home order, LIFEDesigns moved to virtual operations, providing numerous live and zoom activities, while also continuing to support our clients through the aid of our wonderful direct support professionals.

The story of Jennifer Patterson highlights how LIFEDesigns was able to support our clients through these unprecedented times. Jennifer is a client most at the office know very well. Along with working at McCalister’s, Jennifer works at the LIFEDesigns’ office part time in janitorial services. While cleaning she enjoys catching up with LIFEDesigns’ operational staff and meeting new employees. Jennifer is unique since her mother, Dixie Patterson, is also her DSP. As a team, they keep pretty busy. Even after the stay at home order they have kept a very tight schedule. Due to the stay-at-home order, Jennifer moved from her independent living apartment back home with her family in order to be cared for and reduce risk. Jennifer and Dixie turned quarantine into pure fun. They participated in several of Alyssa’s Live Cooking and Exercise classes, “Fun with Friends” on Zoom and Brandi’s Crafting class. Dixie reports that because of these classes Jennifer has learned how to measure when cooking and how to join Zoom meetings. She says that these meetings are “great opportunities to see her friends”. Jennifer’s and Dixie’s ability to adapt and still connect is exactly what staff at LIFEDesigns had hoped for our clients.

While the stay-at-home order may have lifted, LIFEDesigns is still working carefully to support our clients through virtual activities. We are also reinforcing new regulations such as face coverings, temperature monitoring and social distancing in the office. Gifts and event attendance are very much needed to continue supporting clients such as Jennifer, if you are willing and able to help please consider visiting our current needs page.

LBMC Alumni Grant for Purchasing PPE

Thank you to LBMC for the $300 grant that will help us purchase PPE and keep our clients and employees healthy! 

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Cindy Fleetwood our Director of Facilities graduated from LBMC in 2017. LBMC is a community leadership program that meets October through May that teaches skills needed as leaders to face 21st Century challenges, provides opportunity for networking, and includes participants from all sectors including non-profits, for-profits, government and education. One of the goals of the program is for participants to form groups and construct a real-world project, sort of an applied thesis, and present it to the class at the end of the course.  

Project Enable

Project ENABLE (Expanding Non-discriminatory Access By Librarians Everywhere) was created in response to the findings of an IMLS-funded, three-phase research study conducted from 2006- 2009 by a team of researchers from Syracuse University, led by Dr. Ruth Small. The study April 2020 A Semi-Annual E-Newsletter Volume 1, Issue 1 Page 2 investigated the impact of a variety of library and information services on student learning and motivation in schools in New York State. Their survey of over 1600 school librarians, found that their confidence in their ability to provide effective services to patrons with disabilities was significantly lower than all other services provided. Subsequent surveys with academic and public librarians had similar findings.

LIFEDesigns CEO, Russell Bonanno, contributed an article in the newsletter regarding Sound Advice for Project Enable and why it matters. Russ is a firm believer in the importance of libraries in the lives of all people and a strong proponent of projects that ensure that current and future librarians are well-prepared to address the needs of their patrons with disabilities. Click here to read his entire article and more on Project Enable. 

Job-A-Palooza 2019

JOB-A-PALOOZA

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

Joel & Alex, Friends for LIFE

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When Joel knocked on Stephanie Shelton’s office one day back in 2018, he didn’t know that he was about to impact one of our client’s lives in such a positive way. Joel had recently moved to Bloomington in order to take a new job. In an effort to explore Bloomington, he sought opportunities to volunteer and LIFEDesigns was located a few blocks from his house. Joel was quickly immersed in our LIFEMentor  program which partners a community member with a client for mentorship. The LIFEMentor program places community members in supported friendships with LIFEDesigns clients who don’t receive enough state funding to cover very many staffing hours. This really accomplishes several things:

  1. It teaches community members how they can invite a person with a disability into their life as a friend.
  2. It facilitates the beginning of new friendships for people with disabilities (who so often have few people in their lives outside of staff or family members).
  3. It promotes real community inclusion for people with disabilities.
  4. It fosters independence through natural supports and relationship building.

Joel was matched with Alex. They quickly bonded and embarked on numerous events such as IU football games, scooter rides around town, and even volunteering during IU move in. Additionally, when Alex recently wanted more hours for work, he wasn’t able to get support through Vocational Rehabilitation. But because Joel was in his life, he was able to find a new job at Walmart with Joel’s guidance and support throughout the application and interview process. If it weren’t for this new connection in his life, Alex wouldn’t be able to leave his home very often for fun or social activities. 

Before volunteering at LIFEDesigns, Joel had never worked with the special needs community and believes that his experience as a mentor has helped him “become more humble and self-aware.” Joel believes that volunteering with individuals unlike himself makes you a richer person.

Watch this video on YouTube to listen to a bit more of Alex and Joel’s story: https://youtu.be/0EnJJZsYf20

If you are interested in becoming a LIFEMentor please contact Kristen King at kking@lifedesignsinc.org