Opened in 1981, Better Living for Special People (BLSP) was created by several families who had a desire to meet the residential and long-term care needs of their children. These families felt smaller more personal homes would provide a significantly better quality of life for their children then institutions or nursing homes. BLSP served Monroe, Owen, and Lawrence counties, providing respite for 22 families in their first year. The name changed to Options for Better Living, Inc. (Options) in 1990 and was shortened to Options in 2007.
Christole was incorporated in 1981 by a group of family members who wanted to make sure their son or daughter had access to quality care. The company grew to 7 group homes in Monroe, Brown and Bartholomew counties by 2011.
In January of 2012 Options and Christole combined forces to form LIFEDesigns, Inc. The agency was a merger of two great traditions grounded in local, nonprofit services for individuals and families with disabilities. Prior to that both agencies developed from the same grassroots efforts.
The following is a brief summary of some of the milestones in LIFEDesigns history:
|1981||Christole and BLSP were created.
BLSP wrote and received its first grant to help provide respite services to families with family members with developmental disabilities.
|1983||BLSP opened its first group home on Grandview Avenue, providing services for six adult men|
|1992||The agency began providing services through the Medicaid Waiver, a new funding stream for Indiana….one of the first to provide this in Indiana|
|2000||The agency added another new service: supported employment and individual habilitation|
|2001||The Grandview group home was closed, and the people living there moved into their own homes. Proceeds from the sale of Grandview were used to open the first Endowment fund, the 20th Anniversary Fund. The agency achieved CARF certification for employment services|
|2005||The agency was approved to receive $300,000 per year from the Monroe County Government tax levy for services to people with disabilities in the community|
|2007||The agency purchased and rehabilitated Covey Lane properties which housed rental units for people with disabilities. The agency, in collaboration with Monroe Parks and Recreation Department, spearheaded the Karst Farm Playscape project for a universally accessible recreation area at Karst Farm Park.|
|2008||Susan Rinne, CEO was named Staff of the year by the Indiana Housing and Community development Authority and CEO of the year by INARF.|
|2012||Options merged with Christole to form LIFEDesigns|
|2013||The agency completed two significant affordable multifamily housing projects, Housing Options II and Crawford Apartments. A purchase of the Winslow office provided long term stability in facilities. The agency was awarded $30,000 to participate in a consortium of agencies aimed at developing a managed services organization, SIPN. CARF awarded LIFEDesigns another 3-year accreditation.|
|2014||Crawford Apartments won the Lt. Governor’s Award for Excellence in Affordable Housing & Urban Community Development. The City of Bloomington gifted a home on Orris Drive to LIFEDesigns as part of the affordable housing program. As a result LIFEDesigns was able to help two clients realize their dreams of independence.|
|2016||LIFEDesigns at McKinley opened in Columbus, Indiana, allowing eight individuals to transition from residential settings to a supported living environment.|
|2017||LIFEDesigns’ CEO of nearly 20 years, Susan Rinne, retired in late fall. Russell Bonanno was hired as CEO of LIFEDesigns in November. Crawford II opened to 36 formerly homeless residents with disabilities in December.|
|2018||LIFEDesigns cut employee turnover by 20%. The Agency rolled out a new Employee Handbook and improved employee benefits.|
|2019||In May LIFEDesigns increased pay for all permanent employees by $3.00 per hour in order to attract and retain more skilled Direct Support Professionals. For the first time in over 10 years the Agency was able to let go of temp staff, cut turnover down to 40%, and increase retention by 66% between June and the end of November. Overall, employee morale dramatically improved.|
LIFEDesigns was formed from a partnership between two well-established organizations, Options and Christole. We rely on an engaged community of supporters who recognize the life-changing power of working in partnership with people with disabilities. Everyone benefits when all individuals are welcome to participate as active citizens through appropriate supports. Our supporters enable people with disabilities to make meaningful contributions as self-directed and empowered community members.