Donations to Living Well Disability Services make it possible for the people we serve to realize their potential as they live, work, play and volunteer in their homes and communities. Stories of generosity creating opportunity are featured below.
Brian’s life has been transformed, thanks to the generous donations from supporters like you. Brian is 46 and moved into a Living Well Disability Services home on Marie Avenue when he was 9. He was born with an intellectual disability but was able to grow and learn with the right support.
His sister Laurie remembers caring for him as a young child, “We’d get him ready for bed, make sure any rough objects he could trip on were picked up, take off the window handles, unscrew the light bulb and my parents had also put carpet on the walls so he wouldn’t hurt his feet when he banged the walls. And those things helped.”
“My parents ended up working different shifts – dad during the day and mom worked nights. We didn’t get to see her much during the weeks. My sister Sharie and I would be the babysitters at night to help my dad so our childhoods were pretty much limited to being in the house with Brian and doing things with him outside. But I loved helping him.”
Moving Brian into a new living environment “was the hardest decision of my parent’s lives, especially when they saw the options that were available in the community in the late 70’s. Then one day they returned after visiting Living Well Disabilities Services at Marie Avenue – it looked like a home and the kids were happy and healthy; the staff was wonderful. He was placed on a waiting list and finally one day they said they had room for him.”
Brian got in and the family noticed a positive change.
“Brian soon started to thrive. He was loved and treated so well. He was able to do so many things we could never have provided him —a Brian-proofed home and bedroom, – trips, carnivals and rides, he graduated from high school, he went to prom, in a limo!” Laurie enthuses, “He learned signs, swimming, horseback riding, a work program, and other wonderful things for a good life.”
Laurie sums up why Living Well Disabilities Services is known for having dedicated, compassionate staff that create a warm, caring environment, “There are not a lot of places around that provide for people like Brian as well as Living Well does – no matter what someone’s abilities are, Living Well focuses on making sure individuals have a nice home but also have fulfilling activities in their lives.”
The generosity of friends like you enables us to give Brian opportunities to live his best life possible. Such a transformation seems miraculous! But we cannot rest. Our vision is a day when all people, individuals and families, impacted by disabilities live well. That’s why we need your help. Give your gift today and open up a world of opportunities. Thank you in advance for helping us work toward a day when all people impacted by disabilities live well.
Living Well Disability Services was honored with a unique invitation to be included in Jessica Eck and Scott Freeland’s wedding on June 12, 2010. In lieu of wedding gifts, the couple “proposed” that guests consider making a donation to Living Well Disability Services. (Pictured right are the bride’s sister Michelle, Scott, Jessica, and Dennis.)
The Eck family began their involvement with Living Well Disability Services several years ago, when Jessica’s Uncle Dennis moved to Living Well Disability Services Lyndale home in Brooklyn Center. Jessica’s and Scott’s wedding tributes raised over $5,000 for people with disabilities supported by Living Well Disability Services. Thank you to Jessica, Scott, and friends & family of the newlyweds for their abundant generosity!
Peggy Eck, Jessica’s mother, has been involved with Living Well Disability Services for 7 years, and currently serves on the Board of Directors. Both Jessica and Peggy are active as members of Living Well Disability Services Gala Committee. Jessica’s dad George Eck and her Uncle Dennis wowed the 2009 Gala crowd with an outstanding presentation.
Jessica told us, “Scott and I are honored that so many of our dear friends and family donated to Living Well Disability Services for our wedding. Their generosity fills our hearts. Living Well Disability Services gives my Uncle Dennis a life full of good health, love and support. Scott and I are blessed to have found each other and to be leading incredible lives. We are fortunate to be able to share our happiness with others. We thank our parents for teaching us the value of giving over receiving. Thank you all for making our day so special.”
Although Betsy Pate’s verbal abilities were limited as a result of a brain injury suffered at birth, her picture speaks for her. “Always smiling” are the words used to describe her. Despite her disability, Betsy brought a wealth of joy to her family: her mother Karen, father Galen, identical twin sister Kristen and brother Jonathan, along with all of those who cared for her.
When Betsy was born in 1967 with major physical and mental disabilities, there were few resources available to help her or her family cope. Says Karen, “it is indeed frightening to learn that your child is born with disabilities, and it is even more frightening when you learn there are almost no services.”
It was for this reason that Betsy’s parents, with the help of very good friends and other interested parties, established a state-of-the-art facility called Dakota’s Children, today known as Living Well Disability Services.
Karen and Galen reflect on the past: “Back then there were few, if any, residential services for children under the age of 16; most children were cared for at home. Initially our objective was to create services; now, it’s about continuously refining our programs to make them better. Facilities for adults, for example, have evolved from a home for 48 to small homes for four to six individuals in residential communities, with gardens and picnic tables just like their neighbors.”
Karen adds that their legacy is about providing Living Well Disability Services with the ability to respond to changes yet to occur. “Who knows what services will look like in the next 30 years,” she points out. “What we considered state-of-the-art in 1973 has evolved dramatically–the future would probably startle our imagination today.”
“Our gift is about the progress yet to be. We will continue to support Living Well Disability Services in a giving manner to ensure that the residential services provided continue to enhance the lives of people with disabilities and give peace of mind to their family members.”
Elvis Presley lives on through the passion in Andrea Nordmark. And if he had met her, he’d have fallen in love with her, too. Andreas likes to say, “I can do it. I’m 37.” Fun-spirited, fun-loving, and always on the go, Andrea can be exhausting. Andrea’s parents knew in the early 1980s that although their time with Andrea was precious and rewarding, the pressure and patience required of them to care for her was becoming overwhelming.
Gary found the answer by helping establish Living Well Disability Services Kennelly home in Burnsville, where Andrea has been a resident since she was 15. He says that it has provided an opportunity for the entire family to live their lives optimally. At the home, Andrea enjoys the camaraderie of housemates and is exposed to a wider range of activities than Gary and his wife Sandy can provide.
Family time is more special, too. When Andrea comes to visit Gary and Sandy, she and Sandy often take a trip to the grocery store where they buy supplies for a baking spree. As a result, says Gary, their family unit has been strengthened.
When Gary and Sandy talk about their legacy gift to Living Well Disability Services, they see it as an extension of their gratitude for the quality of care provided by Living Well Disability Services. “The services and programs of Living Well Disability Services have been there for us and have made such a wonderful difference in Andrea’s life and in ours,” notes Gary. Adds Sandy, “People need to be responsible for the sake of continuity–both emotionally and financially. We’re just doing our part.”