Thanks for Celebrating 40 Years of Service to the Community

On Saturday, July 17th, LIFEDesigns celebrated 40 years of service to the community at our annual agency picnic at Karst Farm Park! This special celebration included a variety of activities like client & community awards, looking through memorabilia of the past 40 years, and celebrating our clients, employees & supporters who have been part of our family since 1981. We want to give a special thanks to the local food trucks that came out and prepared a variety of meals for our guests, Lee Ross for supplying the most delicious BBQ, Hank Ruff, the All Abilities Choir & DJ Justin Brown for providing live entertainment, our employees who volunteered to help with the event, and most importantly, our community for supporting our agency! We had a great time and we can’t wait to see what the next 40 years have in store for LIFEDesigns!

Congratulations to our Client Award Winners!

Independence Award: Tristan B

North Star Award: Ryan C

Outstanding Community Service Award: Aaron S

Initiative Award: Gary C

Congratulations to our Community Award Winners!

Founders Award: The Bloomington Moose Lodge

Visionary Award: The 3 T’s (Troy Whittington, Terry Patterson & Tim Hightower)

Legacy Award: German American Bank and Bob Salzarulo & Terri Porter

Community Impact Award: Expectational Giveaways & Kristen King

And a special thanks to South Central Indiana Kiwanis Club!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to pledge a gift in honor of our 40th Anniversary!

 

Meet Nathan!

Finding a career can be an intimidating journey, especially for someone with a disability, which why we offer employment services. Nathan is a client at LIFEDesigns & receives assistant from our Employment Consultants who help him find a job in the community that both complies to his abilities & helps him learn and achieve independence. 

After graduating Highschool in 2019, Nathan wanted to begin his search in finding his first job and asked LIFEDesigns for help. After some searching, we introduced Nathan to a volunteer opportunity at Sans Souci and helped him complete a job assessment at Kroger on cart pushing. Both of these experiences helped Nathan learn what kind of job might be ideal for him & led him to his job today!

With support from our employment team, Nathan applied for and got hired at Donut Central in the beginning of 2020. Nathan is a hard worker and his manager always has positive things to say about Nathan’s work ethic and mentioned that “Nathan is a huge help to the shop when he folds the donut boxes during our busy Saturday mornings”.

We are so honored to have been part of Nathan’s journey & we are so proud of all he has accomplished over the past year. To support Nathan and many others to find employment and achieve their goals, consider starting a monthly gift to our 40th anniversary campaign…your gift will ensure staff to support Nathan and others in life skills and employment skills are consistent, and available for the next 40 years. Click here to support our 40th Anniversary Campaign!

Meet Eldena!

Eldeana is the definition of a social butterfly! She loves to share her family history and talk about American history. She can recite almost the entire Gettysburg Address and really likes to hear and share stories about the American revolution and Civil War time periods.  

Her oldest brother served in 3 different military branches, and patriotism is very important to her. Eldeana cherishes an old “Secretary” an antique piece of furniture her mom left her. She stores some of her arts and crafts supplies in it and displays her favorite knickknacks and art.  

Eldeana also loves to cook, something she learned from her mother. She remembers her mom’s blackberry cobbler, which was the best around! She enjoyed picking blackberries for her mom when she was young. She has a photo of her mom and dad in her bedroom from before they were married. She likes looking at the photos and remembering her father’s coal black hair and mother’s fiery red hair. If you get the chance to meet Eldeana, she’ll share these and more stories with you. 

Eldeana receives housing & staff support from LIFEDesigns. Because she enjoys being social, it’s important that we are able to provide her with staff support so she can do the things she wants to do & participate in activities that make her happy. We want Eldeana and all of our clients to be active community members, but if we don’t have enough staff support, we have to limit what our clients can and cannot do. 

If you can & are able, please consider donating to our 40th Anniversary Campaign & help us provide staff support for our clients who want to be part of their community. Your donations mean so much to our agency, clients, & their family members and we thank you for supporting LIFEDesigns and our mission in partnering with & promoting independence for individuals with disabilities.

Meet Anna!

A few years ago, LIFEDesigns partnered with the South Central Indiana Housing Opportunities to reserve some of the affordable Switchyard apartments for people with disabilities. Being able to provide a safe & affordable living environment for our clients who want to live independently is a something we take very seriously. We are happy to share that we’ve been able to place several of our clients in these apartments where they have access to their community and can safely live independently!

Last year, LIFEDesigns was able to help Anna reserve one of the Switchyard apartments, where she  is able to walk and use public transportation to do the things she wants to do. Anna was really happy about living so close to a skatepark, as that is one of her favorite things to do. She even has a collection of old skateboards, which she refurbishes so she can get a little more use out them and keeps some as decorations to hang on her wall at her apartment. 

With the help of our services, Anna is able to live on her own and enjoy the life she chose for herself. There are hundreds more people just like Anna who have unique interests and need someone to support and guide them through the steps it takes to accomplish their personal and life goals. Your donation gives the gift of support through individualized staff who work daily with people like Anna.

Click here to help an individual with disabilities achieve independence by donating to our 40th Anniversary Campaign. Thank you for supporting LIFEDesigns!

 

Direct Support Professionals – What They Mean to our Clients

Community engagement is very important to our clients and to us. Our mission, vision, and values highlight the importance of people being able to participate in community activities & the reason we hire Direct Support Professionals. Direct Support Professionals become a mentor, role model & companion to our clients by helping them gain access to their community in their daily lives. 

Jake has been a client at LIFEDesigns for 28 years and is a true social butterfly. Like many others, Jake was upset when the pandemic restricted him from going out and living a social life. We also had to use more staff to support clients in group homes and supported living during that time, which affected many clients like Jake who look forward to spending time with their staff and participate in the community. 

Around August & September of 2020, we started to see some light at the end of the tunnel and were able to get Jake staff support for community living. Eddie became a Direct Support Professional at LIFEDesigns in August of 2020. Eddie has lived in Bloomington for a few years and also enjoys the social life, so we knew he would be a great match for Jake!

Now that the vaccine is available and restrictions are loosing up, Jake and Eddie are able to go out in the community and have a little fun, which they are both happy about. Some of the things they do together are hanging out Jake’s apartment, walk around IU’s beautiful campus, and have even gone canoeing at Lake Griffey. Jake also mentioned that Eddie has become a best friend to Jake, which is exactly what we want to hear from our clients. We are so grateful to have compassionate and caring Direct Support Professionals like Eddie who help our clients live independently & engage in community activities. 

Your donations help us provide respite care & staff support for clients like Jake. By donating to our 40th Anniversary Campaign, you can help provide a DSP & respite services to a client who needs a friend & mentor. Click here to donate today! 

New State Budget – What Does This Mean?

A new state budget, set to begin July 1, 2021, has been increased for IDD services by $40 million, which will raise the average Direct Support Professional wage to $15/hour. This statement is accurate in its wording, but not so much in the impression it gives. So, what does this mean?

The state budget has significantly increased funding for IDD services, and we are certainly grateful. This, plus the 2017 increase, moves the reimbursement rate to near where it should be considering inflation over the past 14 years. But, this increase is NOT for all the services we provide to our clients. The increase is for a limited group of Medicaid Waiver funded services. There are many services provided by LIFEDesigns and many other agencies that are not receiving any increased funding. This increase is designed to benefit DSPs, but NOT all DSPs. The legislation requires that at least 95% of the funding increase benefit those DSPs (and only DSPs) who provide the limited group of Medicaid Waiver funded services and not those who provide other services. The increase was calculated on the concept of increasing the average wage for DSPs providing those limited Medicaid Waiver services to $15 during the second year of the budget (that is, after July 1, 2022).
 

The state has not yet released all the specific requirements to comply with this, nor have they let us know when the increase in reimbursement rates will actually start, but it is unlikely it will be July 1. The only thing we know is this increased revenue must be used to improve wages and/or benefits for a small group of DSPs, but not all DSPs. We do not believe this is fair to all employees. Each and every person who works at LIFEDesigns is important and valuable, and no one gets paid what they truly deserve for the hard work and commitment demonstrated every day. We want to explore ways that will benefit ALL employees at LIFEDesigns regardless of where they work or what services they provide for our clients.

Our goal, and our challenge, is to find a way to reward every member of the LIFEDesigns Team even though the state has not provided support for this. You may know that the current average DSP wage in Indiana is under $10.50/hour, which is not even our training wage, and isn’t close to our minimum starting DSP wage (starting at $13/hour after paid training). Despite this reality, there will be an increase in wages for all employees once the new reimbursement rates are in effect. But we are also looking at improving and increasing benefits for full-time and part-time employees.

In hopes to decrease some of current challenges, we began offering a $500 sign-on bonus to new employees, as well as extra benefits, such as a Birthday Bonus & Employee Referral Bonus, for current employees, which was effective May 1, 2021. Also, starting July 1, 2021, we will be rolling offering a Work Anniversary Bonus and potential raises for every employee who is performing satisfactory work.

Direct Support Professionals deserve to be paid for the work they do, and it is our priority that our staff knows how much we appreciate their efforts to help our clients live independently. We are so proud of our employees and excited to see what the future holds for not only LIFEDesigns, but for agencies who share a similar mission in providing staff support to individuals with disabilities. 

Click here to read more about this new state budget