By Ariana Estes
The crisp blue sky highlights Mill Mountain in the distance as individuals from Roanoke Day Support enjoy the view of the city from the top of Center in the Square. This popular Roanoke spot offers more than just great views — there is a living coral reef aquarium, the Roanoke Pinball Museum and many surrounding shops. But most importantly, this spot offers an opportunity for individuals to get out and engage with their community.
Community involvement has long been a focus of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia’s programs. Day Support, Group Homes and Sponsored Residential Homes emphasize the importance of getting out into the community. LFSVA recently took this initiative one step further with the introduction of Community Support and Community Engagement. These programs offer adult individuals with developmental disabilities a chance to truly connect and engage through a variety of activities such as volunteering, health and wellness activities, cultural activities and much more.
“In recent years, the focus has changed from center-based services to a focus on community inclusion for people with disabilities,” says Holly Rhodenhizer, director of developmental services for Lutheran Family Services of Virginia.
Community Engagement focuses on a 1:3 staff-to-individual ratio and Community Coaching focuses on a 1:1 staff-to-individual ratio for individuals facing barriers to participating in Community Engagement. Locations for these services are based on the person or group of people in the service. They may meet at one of our office locations, church, or other places in the community.
Community Engagement and Coaching aren’t limited to LFSVA’s Day Support Centers in Roanoke and Lynchburg. Those living in Group Homes and Sponsored Residential Homes also have access to these services, and Developmental Service professionals are working with individuals receiving In-Home Support services to determine who may benefit from these new services.
For Charlottesville, the addition of Community Engagement and Coaching means a change for how current services look in the area. The Charlottesville Day Support Center began making Community Engagement and Coaching a focus in June, shifting away from center-based support services. The Day Support Center will remain open until August 31, after which time it will make a complete shift to Community Engagement and Coaching.
“Our Charlottesville location has an incredible amount of opportunities for true inclusion that allow for a successful launch of a community-based program,” says Rhodenhizer.
The addition of these services is an exciting step for LFSVA in supporting our continued mission to provide abundant possibilities for the individuals we serve.