The workers at Life Bridges strive to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities become more self-sufficient. They train clients to perform everyday tasks and help them gain employment in the community.
“We are all about making a better life for people with intellectual disabilities, giving them opportunity,” said Ginger Davis, chief financial officer.
Davis moved to Cleveland after being a stay-at-home mother for five years to her 9-, 8- and 5-year-olds. Within six months of living here, she saw an ad in the paper for Life Bridges, applied, and received the job. She is now going into 3 1/2 years with the nonprofit organization.
“We get our clients out in the community and normalize their lives as best we can. We strive to give them the best care we can give them,” Davis said.
Through a Day Program, training facility, therapy services, medical clinic and 35 residential settings with 24/7 care, Life Bridges is able to provide well-rounded service to those in need. They serve those from their early 20s to late 70s and early 80s. The program continues to grow as the people grow.
“Life Bridges has some great employees that care for exceptional people and we are thankful for those employees,” Davis said.
The property at 764 Old Chattanooga Pike in Cleveland houses the Administrative Office, Civitan Center for Developmental Training and the Walter C. Hunt opportunity center. Recently, Life Bridges has built two new Intermediate Care Facilities for Intellectual Disabilities located on seven acres on Kile Road that serve eight individuals.
“There’s over 7,000 people on the waiting list in Tennessee alone to receive services that have none otherwise. This is a growing need. Anything and everything you can do makes a difference to the lives of these people, and many people in need,” Davis said.
Life Bridges is one of few agencies statewide funded by the Department of Developmental and Intellectually Disabled that is nationally accredited by CARF. As of now, Life Bridges serves nearly 200 recipients in more than 40 facilities with more than 500 staff and onsite medical services. This includes 40 licensed nurses, a physician’s assistant and therapists, as well as contract physician consultants.
“I feel like because of what we do at Life Bridges and why we do it for our clients, it is a greater fulfillment (than being in a for-profit job setting),” Davis said. “I see how it does help the clients. Every penny I can save goes to get our clients’ needs, which gets them out in the community and helps the employees that are working directly with those clients.”
Life Bridges hosts many events and special occasions for their clients among their weekly activities such as going bowling, movies or to the parks. Two upcoming events are the Pancake Breakfast and the Bike-a-thon. The Pancake Breakfast is Saturday, April 19, at Aubrey’s from 8 to 10 a.m. Tickets are $5. They can be bought at the main facility, from employees or at the door the day of the event.
The Bike-a-thon will be announced soon and the donations will go to capital improvements. Life Bridges is looking for sponsors and riders (individuals and teams). Registration can be done on the Life Bridges website (www.lifebridgesonline.com) or through the Facebook page by going to www.facebook.com and searching Life Bridges Freedom Ride. All money raised goes to the Client Benevolence Fund, which is specifically for clients who cannot afford things they need.
“We love for people to come see what we are doing,” Davis said.