Christine, how do you contribute to GoodLife?
I am a GoodLife board member, donor, and advocate. I donate my time and knowledge of Computer Science to the Neighborhood Network specifically, helping put systems in place to improve program operations, administration, program tracking, and more. I also serve on the iLink Development Team, where we work to further develop and distribute technology. Computer science is my professional background, and I am happy to see technology doing so much good for the people and programs I love.
My husband and I also support GoodLife financially because we believe so deeply in its mission and vision. As donors this year, we have been eligible to receive half of our donation back as a credit on our KS taxes, which means our donation has twice the impact!
(As a reminder to our readers, the tax credit campaign allows GoodLife to target large-scale projects that are essential to our mission and allows donors to come alongside to support those projects. That’s important to us.)
What does being a GoodLife advocate look like?
I support Jenny Lillistrand, a Neighborhood Network resident. We go to her medical appointments together, I walk alongside her in life, and I help her and her mom navigate the oftentimes complicated disability medical care support process.
The role of a direct support professional (DSP) – or any boots-on-the-ground caregiver role – is often difficult work. I like to spend time with or mentor GoodLife staff when I can. It’s important to let them know someone sees their hard work, and it can help make their day a little easier. Sometimes just knowing someone is advocating for and volunteering to be in their corner makes a big difference.
How did you first hear about GoodLife?
I met Jenny through church; I served as her support as she faced life’s challenges. She had been living with her mom for over 50 years, and expressed a strong desire to live more independently. Together, we began the journey of finding a place for Jenny to live that was both tailored to her specific needs and supported her independence. The transition to independent living was a huge step for both Jenny and her mom. We visited a few places, but none of them felt right or complete in their services. Eventually, someone told us about GoodLife’s Neighborhood Network model, and it offered exactly what we were looking for. Shortly after, Jenny became their first resident.
How do you, Jenny, and her mom feel about GoodLife now, years later?
Jenny is capable of doing a lot on her own if she has the right support in place. GoodLife’s support network is a long-term solution that allows Jenny to be the best version of herself while trying new things in a safe and caring community. I want the best for Jenny every minute of every day. I have complete peace of mind that she gets that at GoodLife. What more can you ask for in the life of those you love?
Why did you want to engage in helping us reimagine independent living?
I’ve known multiple individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) over the course of my life. Each individual’s needs for I/DD services are beautifully unique. When I learned about GoodLife’s vision to blend independent living, on-site support, and the safety net of 24/7 technology to reimagine independence and meet unique needs, I knew it was the organization I wanted to rally behind.
Christine, what excites you most about the future of GoodLife, their innovation, and plans for growth?
It’s not uncommon that families aren’t all together in one place to provide their aging or loved ones with disabilities all of the support they need. It excites me that GoodLife exists – models of care that leverage people and technology to maximize what residents can do, safely. Not only that, but they are doing it while paying and supporting staff well through GoodLife’s unique labor strategies. Not only am I excited for what GoodLife is doing today close to home, but all they are trying to achieve on a larger scale. GoodLife is creating entrepreneurial funding streams to support the needs of individuals with disabilities and their families at their point of need. This brings the possibility of supporting more people around the world. I’m proud to be a part of that!
Discover more about our award-winning Neighborhood Network care model and its blueprint for independent living. Have questions about how you can take advantage of the tax credit campaign? Reach out to us!