Growing up, my parents always ensured that we treated people with kindness and helped those around us that needed it. This especially rang true when it came to interacting with people who are IDD (Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled). Having grown up with a cousin who is IDD and having the owners of the only restaurants in town having Down Syndrome children, my siblings and I had a good bit of first-hand exposure on how to interact with them. Fast forward to my teen years, my cousin’s mother and main caretaker died, and at the time, I still didn’t quite understand where the conversations were coming from about who would watch over him.
Working at Louisiana Association for Challenged Adults has helped me understand that, just like with children aging out of the foster system, many IDD children and adults whose main caretakers die often end up in group homes. We have a few participants at our center who have been in group homes since they were children, some are currently in their 60’s now. So while they’re at our program, we do our best to make them feel loved and welcomed and wanted.
What is Louisiana Association for Challenged Adults?
Louisiana Association for Challenged Adults (LAC) began in 1960 with a group of parents whose children were labeled Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled (IDD). Since its beginning as a Non-Profit, the focus of the LAC has been about providing these special individuals with vocational, recreational, and educational/rehabilitation opportunities. The age range of our current LAC clients is somewhere between early 20’s and late 70’s. We exist solely to enrich the lives of IDD adults, who after having aged out of the public school system, may have few other alternatives for vocational, educational and recreational opportunities. We are located in Walker, LA and provide clients with transportation services to and from the center as well as to the different work sites for those clients participating in the vocational programs each day it is in operation. Our program affords its participants the opportunities to develop independence based on their individual strengths and needs–skills such as: social, self-help, community integration, self-preservation, job safety, job performance, etc.
I was hired as the Program Manager this past month after looking for something closer to home. Heeding my husband’s advice about pursuing non-profit work whilst holding a special place in my heart for those with disabilities, this job combines my passions: planning and helping a vulnerable group in my community.
How You Can Help
As a non-profit, we are always seeking additional funding from sources such as grants, fundraisers, and donations because the income received from our main funder, Medicaid, is not a sufficient funding source to operate the LAC according to the required daily centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) rule requirements and programs successfully. However, due to COVID-19 and the loss of attendance, the LAC has had to spend funds set aside for such times as these. Now that COVID-19 is not as prevalent and enrollment and attendance are increasing, our funding will improve, but that will of course take time. Until then, LAC needs help to continue the operations that allow these special IDD individuals to develop independence according to their unique strengths and needs.
The community can help by making donations to help us fund our activities, volunteering at the center and getting to know our clients, and assisting with outreach/integration. We have a website and Facebook page set up to better assist those who want to donate. We currently have 5 upcoming events planned that we need donations and volunteers for.
Learn more about the Louisiana Association for Challenged Adults
Sammi is the Program Manager at Louisiana Association for Challenged Adults. She and her husband Cody are parents to two lively girls, Lillith and Florence. Originally from Arnaudville (a very small town right off of I-10 on the way to Lafayette), she and her husband relocated their family to Denham Springs last year. She’s a dedicated mom and wife, fiercely loyal friend, and an utter goofball. She’s committed to learning, always open to new ideas and concepts, and loves to advocate for those that need. She’s passionate about helping others and works on instilling this in her daughters. She enjoys antiquing with her husband, visiting local breweries and traveling with her daughters whenever she can.