On Tuesday Living Well once again celebrated friends, family and FUN during our annual Family Fun Day party at Como Park. After what felt like months of rain, the weather was perfect, and it wasn’t even too hot! Aesop’s Table catered burgers, pasta and cookies. Thirty-nine volunteers from GAP School, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Inver Grove Heights, the Vikings, Blue Cross Blue Shield, as well as many individuals showed up to help set up, lead games, help with tattoos and face paint, clean up and assist with any needed tasks throughout the day. And back by popular demand, the always incredible Tony Redmond performed as Elvis. He is such a big part of the day we ask him for his availability before we even attempt to pick an open date at Como.

This event is a crowd favorite and just about everyone involved in our mission loves it because it brings everyone together—folks served and supported, families, guardians, case workers, and staff—for one epic party. Events like Family Fun Day are essential parts of our mission as they bring people together and offer connection, good old fashioned community involvement, and inclusion, all in one place. With 36 homes throughout the metro, and many busy schedules, Family Fun Day is the one time of year we gather as a group and get the time to celebrate everyone. There is endless laughter and smiles, and so much dancing.

Beth Ryan has worked with Living Well for 36 years, and says, “Family Fun Day is an event that you never want to miss. The food is great and seeing Elvis with everyone is fantastic! My favorite part of the day is seeing people that I might not have seen in months or years. It’s like old home week! Lots of hugs and reminiscing. This year was special because we saw a great group of young newly hired people really getting into their roles as advocates and having fun doing so. We’re passing on traditions and the future looks bright!” And Beth knows a thing or two about young talent, her Grandson Liam just started and seems to be having a blast!

This was the first Family Fun Day for Lila Madson, Program Manager at Larpenteur, who started with Living Well back in March. When asked what she thought about the party, she said, “I loved the opportunity to get together with other individuals and staff, and to celebrate all of the ways that Living Well Disability Services has brought joy and support to the people we serve. It was amazing getting to see every part of Living Well represented, from direct care all the way to the senior leadership level. The opportunity to see people smiling and gathering just to have fun and be together was heartwarming.”

Board Members Tony DeRose and Nicolas Tiziou once again volunteered as parking valets and made the event smooth for staff from start to finish. Como Park is a public space and the pavilions where we celebrate have only five handicapped parking spots available in the lot. With most of our 36 homes in attendance, parking is always tight. So, they worked with Regional Director, Adrienne DeRuyck, and Program Manager/Interim Regional Director, Zach Emmons, to create a valet experience allowing staff to come without having to find a way to get the people they support safely settled with staff, then need drive a van to a lot further away from the event. It made life easier for staff, and that was beyond appreciated.

Adrienne loves Family Fun Day and thinks this year was another great success. She said, “It was neat to see so many of the families we support together in one place. In addition to proving care for individuals, families are impacted by the services we provide—and seeing almost 400 people gather and celebrate our mission was amazing.”

Tony is the incoming board chair, and said, “For me Family Day is all about HAVING FUN, BEING SILLY, enjoying really good, DANCING and SINGING along with ELVIS. This is especially a favorite day for the people we serve, along with their family and friends. It’s heartwarming to see all the people enjoying an afternoon together as one big family!! As a long-time friend to Living Well, I look forward to Family Day every June. A huge shout out to the Direct Support Professionals and Program Managers who bring all the people to join in the FUN and work even harder to ensure everyone has the best time possible! Thank you to all the Living Well staff, who again, did an amazing job hosting Family Day.”

Family Fun Day is an incredible party, full of celebration and inclusion, and we are beyond grateful for all who helped us celebrate. To the families and guardians, we appreciate you sharing your loved ones with us. To our staff, we are grateful you chose to create a career out of caring, and making the people and families we support feel safe and supported. To our volunteers, we want you to know that the time you invest in helping events be successful is essential. This year we had more volunteers than ever before, and you helped put the FUN in Family Fun Day. And to our donors, parties like this are made possible because of donations, big and small, that underwrite all the amazing things that Living Well does outside of covered services like room, board and basic care.

Thank you, everyone!

 

 

 

 

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