Life Bridges offers opportunities to adults with disabilities

By CHRISTY ARMSTRONG
Posted 9/2/18

Representatives of Life Bridges, a local organization which assists adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, recently shared their work with the Bradley Sunrise Rotary …

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Life Bridges offers opportunities to adults with disabilities

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Representatives of Life Bridges, a local organization which assists adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, recently shared their work with the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Club. 

Diana Jackson, CEO of Life Bridges, said the organization provides a variety of valuable services to adults who have “aged out” of services meant for children and teens.

“Have you ever thought about what these people do after high school?” Jackson asked. “Often, they will need to rely on organizations like us.” 

This year, the organization is celebrating its 45th anniversary. Jackson explained it started in 1973, the result of a “grassroots-level” effort to provide help and opportunities for adults with disabilities. 

Life Bridges, which now occupies more than eight acres off Old Chattanooga Pike,  serves some 200 individuals on a regular basis. With more than 500 employees, Jackson noted it is one of Bradley County’s largest employers. 

The organization provides day care services, employment services, residential services and more. It also offers physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, nutritional support and behavioral support. 

It  has its own onsite medical clinic. Three medical doctors, a physician assistant and several nurses and medical assistants provide between 550 and 650 patient visits each month. 

Residential services include placements in 39 group homes throughout Bradley County,  as well as 24-hour intermediate care for individuals who need help with special medical needs. 

Jackson said these services all help clients lead lives that are as healthy, happy and productive as possible. 

“We are really helping people bridge that gap to lead better lives,” said Jackson. 

Karen Kelley, community liaision for Life Bridges, described the many activities clients are involved in throughout the community. 

Clients have found part-time work in the community, volunteered with a variety of local organizations and taken part in activities like an annual prom and Special Olympics competitions. 

Kelley said she is thankful to all the businesses and organizations which have supported Life Bridges by providing clients with work and volunteer opportunities. 

“They love to get out and work,” Kelley said. “It makes them feel so valued.” 

Ginger Davis, CFO for Life Bridges, also spoke about the organization’s funding and the need for community support.

Life Bridges is licensed and accredited by the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. It does receive state funding; however, there are additional needs. 

These include money to maintain Life Bridge’s fleet of more than 100 vehicles, as well as money to go toward its Benevolence Fund to help provide low-income clients with necessities such as eyeglasses and clothing. 

Jackson said she hopes to continue to raise awareness about the work of Life Bridges and help clients become even more involved in the local community. 

“Every individual has a gift, something they can share,” said Jackson. 

For more information on Life Bridges and its work, visit www.lifebridgesonline.com

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