LEO plans new home to mark 20th anniversary
October 6, 2009
By Chantelle Lusebrink
You can help Life Enrichment Options officials raise a roof at their 20th celebration and luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 13.
LEO, an organization dedicated to advocating and providing housing for people with development disabilities, turns 20 this year. To celebrate, they are fundraising for another big endeavor — a third family home to assist adults with disabilities in the Issaquah, Sammamish and Snoqualmie Valley areas.
“Today, we are celebrating 20 years of being in existence and having a vision to create a community of people living with developmental disabilities,” said Rose Finnegan, a founding board member for the organization. “After they graduate from the special-education programs in the schools, they now can look forward to having a full life in our community.”
The third home will cost about $500,000. To date, organization officials have raised about $150,000.
To help raise additional funds, Ann Dennis, a founding board member said hosting a luncheon and celebration seemed like the perfect fit for such a momentous time in the organization’s history.
In 20 years, the organization has helped advocate at the state Legislature for funding for adults living with developmental disabilities; helped advocate for local parks and recreation programming for those adults; linked countless families to employment agencies; and provided continuing education opportunities for adults, Finnegan said.
“Twenty years ago that wasn’t possible,” she said. “Recreation wasn’t local, jobs were almost impossible to come by and housing was almost nonexistent.”
One of the first ways they helped break down those barriers was to create the gravity car races, held in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Issaquah, every year.
“It’s a fun event, where people can get to know our children and our adults,” Finnegan said.
Most recently, though, the organization’s primary function has been to provide housing for developmentally disabled adults who can live independently from their families.
“It is so important to give these people a place to live, so they can learn to be independent before a crisis happens,” said Angela Dews, a founding board member. “So many times, these adult kids find themselves in crisis when their mom or dad die and they need to leave their home.”
By living independently, in a group home, their confidence grows and preparations are already in place for them when their parents die, she added.
The organization opened Rose House in 2003 and the Ann Dennis House in 2006. Both provide housing for five to six adults who live together in a cooperative family environment with the assistance of a caregiver, Dennis said.
“It is the closest thing to actually living with their parents and having the support they need there,” Finnegan said.
By fundraising for a third home, the organization will be able to take on five new adults.
“We are celebrating seeing a vision we had 20 years ago come true,” Finnegan said. “But we still need to grow. As the baby boom population ages, parents of younger children with disabilities have to plan for the future.”
To help celebrate their milestones, the women said they have hired John Curley, former host of “Evening Magazine,” to be master of ceremonies and Jim Dever, host of “Evening Magazine,” to do a video about the organization’s residents.
They also will have a raffle of sorts where luncheongoers can purchase a balloon with a prize inside, like gift certificates for local restaurants and wine tastings.
Lunch will be catered by Tuxedos-N-Tennis Shoes. Guests will feast on lemon rosemary chicken skewers served on top of orange, apple and fennel slaw; roasted new potato salad with fresh herbs and a Dijon vinaigrette; and seasonal field greens. Dessert is pumpkin cheesecake or coconut shortbread dipped in dark chocolate. Fresh rolls and a variety of beverages will be served.
Finnegan said officials have room for about 300 guests at Pickering Barn and have received confirmations from about 225 guests.
There’s room for more, she said, but participants need to reserve their spot by Oct. 7, so officials can accommodate them. The suggested donation is $100.
If you go
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Oct. 13
1730 10th Ave. N.W.
Reservations: 206-619-2475 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or email@example.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.