This is Part 3 of a three-part installment from a talk given by Jack Morrone, Principal and Co-Founder of One Financial Services, promoting two of several non-profits prominent in his life.
This is a story in three parts…
First was, The Last Time, where I introduced you to my wonderful family.
Next I shared Someone I Don’t Know Yet, and my hopes for the future of our kids.
And now, The Airport.
So, where does the airport come in? Once I was in the Cincinnati Airport missing a connecting flight off of Delta trying to get to Tampa. It was the last place I wanted to be and I was alone. Another time my car broke down when I was driving to Bloomsburg to meet some college friends for a weekend road trip. I ended up walking six miles along Route 80 to get there. So, there’s a lot of places that are the last place you want to be and I argue that the last place you want to be is alone, just like the song says: Don’t you forget about me.
I argue that the last place you want to be is alone.
When you have your own capacity you can choose to be with others or remain alone. But, if you’re like me and have come to know that being with people is good for a healthy life experience then you’ll understand when I say my children don’t need to be alone, they need support.
I’m a member of the Lehigh Valley Miracle League. We’ve been involved with this organization over the last seven years and my sons love all the activities. The kids who play baseball aren’t going to change what they like doing. I’d like you to remember that while those kids age chronologically, they’re not going to stop enjoying baseball when they’re thirty-five or older. Also, please show up and support these kids. There’s nothing more powerful than seeing this game happen or more meaningful for the kids to look out and see fans cheering them on.
Now, how my story relates to LifePath is I’m a parent and a natural advocate for an organization that supports adults and children with disabilities. Although LifePath is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t know about us. We don’t promote our home being any different than yours. We also don’t promote that the transportation system of vans taking our individuals to and from their activities is any different than any other van you might see on the road driven by a family. But, in respecting the dignity of our individuals by not identifying ourselves we’ve hurt our visibility. In other words, from a Public Relations standpoint, 40 years in existence and just shy of a $50 million dollar budget, serving a thousand individuals with over 500 employees, we’re still a mystery to many people.
LifePath is involved with families. Naturally, they have day programs, and residential services serving over one hundred group community living arrangements. Some of our group homes support as many as three individuals or up to eight individuals with 24-hour care. And this doesn’t mean there are IV’s, feeding tubes and med schedules. The support provided might be breakfast, helping an individual get dressed, or getting someone to bed on time. The goal is for the individuals to feel safe and cared for in the environment they’re living in.
The goal is for the individuals to feel safe and cared for.
And, managing that kind of routine and support and care doesn’t pay very much. In fact, the average staff member gets paid only around $10 an hour. So, retaining our employees is a big topic for our Board and as a service delivery for what we do. We are proud of our service. We coordinate what we can do with other nonprofits, so it wouldn’t be unusual for someone living in a home near the Westgate Mall after they wake up going to a van going to a day program supported by VIA or The Arc and they return from their day program which is a place where they may have an opportunity to be employed, enjoy activities, or build friendship while being safe during the daytime until they return to their homes at the end of the day. This is the type of service that I know my family will need.
This is the type of service I don't want to depend on welfare to deliver, which means I have to have a Supports Coordinator to advocate on my behalf through a bureaucracy and hope that the services they need can be vendor provided and paid for. While I do my best to structure my life so that I'm aware of possible providers of care that I could individually hire, I know I don’t have enough money to afford that yet. The concern is having enough money to allow them to stay in their own home and not have to be disrupted or extracted and moved to some group home that’s all brand new to them.
These are the struggles of a family with a child with disabilities.
So, these are the struggles of a family with a child with disabilities. That a child will have childlike behavior, even though they’re going to be twenty-five or thirty-five and beyond. So, I hope you now have an appreciation for the difference that it family with a disability may have from yours. And, when you hear about LifePath you think kindly of it as you know the good work being done, the volume of work they’re doing, and the struggles they face that may need help that could be solved financially. If our endowment wasn't a million dollars but a hundred million dollars we could do a lot more in terms of retaining employees because we wouldn’t have to pay them the state allowed rate of $10 dollars.
We offer fundraising opportunities, and one of them is a large public relations event. Choosing the day before Thanksgiving to host this event was laughed at, initially. But, what a fitting way to put the start of the holiday season into perspective by acknowledging a courageous family and providing them some time at the podium to share a little bit about their story. And, last year we had fun with a guest speaker from the sports world, Jim Palmer. This year we’re scheduled to have Pete Rose. So, if you want to take someone to an event that’s more than a party with over seven hundred people, an open bar starting at eleven, and hear a great message from a sports celebrity, then this is the event of the year!
Life Path, Miracle League, VIA and The Arc are not affiliated with LPL Financial.
The Breakfast Club - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Breakfast_Club
Miracle League – http://www.miracleleaguelv.org/
Lehigh Valley Live - http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/
LifePath - http://www.lifepath.org/
VIA - http://www.vianet.org/
The Arc - http://arcoflehighnorthampton.org/