Hope for the Future

So how about 2020? What a year! We’re all grateful to be able to be mostly done with quarantine and moving forward with our lives.

At LBSA, 2020 was about keeping people safe from COVID-19 (both clients and staff) and examining and adjusting our business model to maintain our services.

Limitations and life largely were the same whoever you talked with. However, I did notice one thing: people seemed to believe that somehow COVID-19 was coming out of long-term care settings, that our clients were the source, instead of vulnerable populations to be protected. Because of the concern from family and community members about death and spread in long-term care settings, restrictions continue in our settings. It’s been an interesting balance: keeping people safe and allowing them to make choices and live their lives.

Understanding Expectations

Setting and meeting expectations is a risky business fraught with complications. In essence, that’s what our mission promises: that we will work to meet clients’ dreams and goals. Is there anything worse than leaving people disappointed by not meeting those expectations?

Today’s world complicates this even more. People’s expectations continue to rise without an attendant understanding of what it takes for service providers to meet those expectations. At LBSA, we have many auxiliary customers who have their OWN sets of expectations: the Departments of Health and Human Services, the public, case managers, volunteers, donors, neighbors, staff members.

And different groups have different expectations, different levels of expectations. It’s often easiest to meet our direct customer and their support circles’ expectations. Even these expectations, hopes and dreams, are as different as each person.

Hiring and keeping staff has been a major hurdle, as it has in many industries. Our staffing reached a critical level last fall, when we closed three of our households on campus and moved a number of people to other settings, until we could hire enough staff to provide services. We increased our pay by $3/hour to attract new staff members, without being able to change our rates to reflect that increase.

We appealed to our community – to you – and we raised over $700,000 to fill the gap. We can’t keep pace with the for-profit industries – like Target and Kwik Trip – who have raised their base pay to $15/hour. For now, we’re able to fill most of our jobs. A nurse is our biggest need.

Navigating Challenges

We were (and are) grateful for our community who helped us navigate the challenges this past year.

Prior to the pandemic, we had been working to expand services in new ways, to be able to fill our own gap. During the pandemic, we continued this planning, and, in June 2021, began a private pilot of Family Navigator Services. This service provides families and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities assistance in navigating the many aspects of living with a disability.

We will also be expanding our services to provide Behavioral Consulting Services and support to help people be able to stay in their homes, and to be successful in navigating their community. We need to raise an additional $700,000 to fund these two initiatives, until they are able to pay for themselves.

Some days it’s hard to stay positive, to see a bright future. Last year was hard. This year is a little better, and we still have a long way to go. We count on our partners to help us understand expectations.

Together, we can meet those expectations, and support people with disabilities to make their dreams and goals come true. Your friendship and your partnership make that possible.

All of you are our beacons of hope, reminders that, in a world of rising expectations and heightened disappointment, we have cheerleaders. Thank you for your support and your generosity.