Breyden on the new elevator.

At Living Well, donated dollars transform lives. This is why we are beyond grateful to everyone who has ever donated a dollar, or thousands, as each dollar has a direct impact on the quality of life of the people we serve. We believe that people living with disabilities deserve to live rich and full lives. This week we have a donation story unique to disability services that we know you will love. We installed an in-home elevator!

What makes the elevator special is that it was made possible by grant dollars. Capital improvement funding can be challenging to secure, yet it has direct and immediate impact on our mission. Grants like this unlock opportunities in highly visible and tangible ways. There is increased independence for the people we serve, extended reach of direct support professionals, and improved person-centered supports. This grant made a house easily accessible to all who live and visit, and that is remarkable!

Studies and anecdotal experiences of those we serve confirm that when individuals are provided with tools, they try to do more for themselves—and, through trying, frequently succeed. In an industry subject to staff shortages, accessible devices allow caregivers to expand their supervisory and assistive capacity, improving efficacy and cost efficiency of care. We also know that adaptive and accessible homes support more personalized service, allowing caregivers to deliver individualized support to the person as they need it. All of this in combination means we can better meet the needs of the people we support.

In the case of the elevator, it means people will have access to the entire house as they age, and people who use a wheelchair or walker will be able to explore their home without restriction. Could you imagine if a portion of your home was not accessible to you?

As the people we serve age in place, their medical and physical needs change. Over 65% of the people we serve are over the age of 50. And many have more than one disability. Adaptive and accessible devices can be life-changing in helping people navigate every day with site-specific installation needs. Now imagine having 36 group homes with an aging population, and you will get a better picture of why the need for this type of funding is critical for organizations like Living Well.

The elevator installed at our Thompson home was made possible by a generous grant from The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. Without their support, the elevator may have been added to an ‘in the future’ wish list but was upgraded to ‘call the contractor’ status because they saw and met the need. Devan Heinsen, Living Well CDO says, “We are incredibly grateful to our committed partners. Foundation and donor support has unlocked possibilities across our organization.” Donated funds like this push what is possible.

Jill Tollesfon, Program Manager, says “People with disabilities are often a forgotten group. And it was beautiful to see that this need was both seen and funded.” Adding, I am extremely grateful to see that organizations are waking up to the needs of the people we serve.” Jill loved seeing the donated dollars come to life. She knows that it will better the lives of the people we support and open the door to a variety of people we can serve in the future at Thompson. In fact, we have a senior couple moving into Thompson in May who will benefit from the elevator on day one. They both have mobility limitations but were able to live on their own for years before recently requiring more intensive services and looking at moving into a group home together. And in a twist of fate, we had two spots available, and a brand-new elevator at Thompson. With laundry in the lower level, the elevator will allow them to live more independently with ease as they age.

Capital improvement funds help us provide exceptional services providing care beyond the basics. Without this type of support, many of our homes would not be as accessible as they are today, and this is critical to allowing the people we serve to age in place in the homes they know and love. Devan adds, “Improvements like an accessible driveway, in-home elevator, or lift system help increase independence while protecting staff from injuries while they provide care. Each of us crave independence and appreciate care. Capital funds help make this possible and families benefit from them each and every day.” Which is why we are incredibly grateful for this incredible grant.

Berit Allar, Program Officer at the Schulze Family Foundation adds, “Our board understands the challenges families impacted by disabilities face. That’s why they were supportive of this impactful upgrade to the facilities.”

As you can see donations have a direct impact on the quality of life for everyone served by Living Well. Together we make the lives of the people we support richer. We cannot do it alone, and our gratitude is endless. Thank you to all who donate and advocate.

Don’t forget, Day at the Capitol is NEXT Tuesday: Interested in helping to advocate for disability services and help the people we support living with disabilities and the people how care for them? Mark your calendar for Disabilities Day at the Capitol on March 28, 2022. Email to get on the list and sign up to be part of the Living Well groups attending.