LifeWorks Community Services is special

LifeWorks Community Services is an extraordinarily special place.

I have a cupcake sitting on my desk. Someone snuck into my office while I was away and set it at my workspace. Why would someone sneak into my office to leave a tasty treat? It’s because a person, who has a disability, brought them to LifeWorks’ vocational site to celebrate her birthday. Mind you, this is a person who has significant health concerns. It is very special to see this person have another birthday. It is so special for her to have a birthday that special arrangements were made for her to join a group of friends on her actual birthday.

Today, also, I overheard a person excitedly tell another that his “payday is Thursday.” He was over-the-moon excited, telling everyone who would listen that “payday is Thursday.” While payday is always a great day no matter who you are, why would someone be so very jubilant to be paid wages they’ve worked hard to earn? It’s because this is his first paycheck from his first community-based job. He considers his work opportunity a career, whereas others might see as “just a job.”

Today, a staff member told me about another person who has a new job and is joyful. Yesterday he giggled on his way home from work.

Not many people get the opportunity to see everyday joys quite like this.

There are days that also bring heartbreak. I’ve come to work to find out a person we once served passed away. Their friends mourn, as do the staff who once served them. Recently, a person’s funding for a service wasn’t authorized, so he couldn’t come and participate as usual. He did not understand why he could not come, and was very upset. Also, holidays can be hard for some with disabilities, especially for someone with depression.

Working for this organization gives me a perspective I would not have had. I am extremely blessed to work for LifeWorks.

LifeWorks as an organization is growing. One year ago, LifeWorks employed around 70 staff members serving around 200 people. This year LifeWorks employs around 120 staff members and serves around 240 individuals. We have offices in Fort Dodge, and now in Humboldt too. One year ago we had nine 24-hour residential sites.

Today there are 16. Job opportunities for individuals with disabilities are expanding. One year ago, there were eight opportunities where groups of up to four people worked in community-based locations. Today, we have 15 opportunities. Ten people have their own jobs at area businesses. Small groups of individuals, served in Day Habilitation, contribute back to the community. They volunteer at local churches, food pantries, Almost Home Animal Shelter, care centers and more. One Day Habilitation participant got mad when she thought helping at a food pantry was taken off the schedule.

LifeWorks has many caring and dedicated staff who go up and beyond the call of duty. One person served was digressing in skill, almost to the point of needing to go to a nursing home. It was unusual to hear him laugh like he once had. Residential staff were his champions, advocating for his medical needs. He is, thankfully, doing much better today. He is laughing again. Another person served wore shoes that were too small, and she lacked a warm coat. A dedicated staff member saw the need and took care of it.

LifeWorks Charitable

Foundation

LifeWorks, which does so much good for people, is fortunate to have a foundation. The LifeWorks Charitable Foundation has worked hard to put “fun” into “fun”draising. The Foundation’s annual fundraiser, “Thanks for Giving,” will feature a singer, a musician, and a comedian on Nov. 2 at Fort Frenzy’s Cardiff Center.

Musician Brent Ferguson, singer Josh Gibbons and comedian Matthew Jacobsen will compete to earn the People’s Choice Award. Talent judges this year will include airport Manager Rhonda Chambers, Webster County Supervisor Mark Campbell and Technology Director Lance Lennon. In addition to entertainment, the evening will include a two-meat buffet, a silent auction and a testimonial speaker. A cash bar will also be available. Tickets are available for $40 each at Fort Frenzy, Fort Dodge Hy-Vee, Humboldt Hy-Vee and LifeWorks’ offices.

LifeWorks is fortunate to have Gold-level supporters which include Availa Bank; Bank Iowa; Beckenbaugh Rentals; Drs. Eric and Carey Bligard; the Center for Allergy, Asthma and Immune Disorders PC; Cargill; Eastwood Realty; Fort Dodge Ford; Fort Frenzy; the Fraternal Order of Eagles; Jensen Builders; Kemna Auto; the Kiwanis Clubs of Fort Dodge; Jan and Al Link; Maggio Dental Office; Northwest Bank; Shimkat Motor Co.; Bob and Janet Singer; Wells Fargo; and Woodruff Construction.

It is also fortunate to have Silver-level supporters such as Central Financial Group; Civitan; Bruce Cochrane DDS; DA Martin Construction; Don Peart Custom Homes; First State Bank; Flooring America; Fort Dodge Messenger; Fort Dodge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery PC; Humboldt Newspapers; Kallin Johnson; Mid Iowa Insurance; Molyneaux Insurance; Roberta and John Nigro; Osborn Stubbs Law Office; Pat Kelley Construction; Riley Armstrong Plumbing and Heating; Ross’ Appliance; Russell Heun DDS; Thompson, Eich, and Tyrrell CPAs; TP Anderson and Company; United Healthcare; Wendy’s, and 97.7 The Bolt.

The event will raise money for the LifeWorks Charitable Foundation’s endowed fund. This will provide a perpetual funding source for LifeWorks Community Services, to enhance the quality services offered to people with disabilities. This, in turn, will benefit the lives of people who put cupcakes on my desk, get jobs at local businesses, lose close friends and family members, start laughing again, and experience other everyday joys and heartaches.

Teresa Naughton is executive director of LifeWorks Community Services.

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