Life Enrichment Options plans home, fundraiser

October 11, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Founded 22 years ago by the parents of children with intellectual or developmental disabilities, Issaquah’s Life Enrichment Options is expanding.

One of the organization’s founders as well as a member of its board of directors, Rose Finnegan said LEO’s third family home should be completed by December.

The group also is planning what Finnegan said is only the second fundraising event in its history.

Harvesting Hope is the name of LEO’s luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 20 at Pickering Barn. Sammamish City Council member and former host of TV’s “Evening Magazine” John Curley will host the event.

LEO’s third facility sits in the Issaquah Highlands at the corner of 25th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Logan Street.

The newly constructed home became “dried in,” or fully enclosed, in September, said Chris Weber, LEO’s newly appointed development assistant.

Jiff Searing, LEO’s vice president for construction, said landscaping should start outside the home later this month, while interior work will begin the minute he is able to have the heat turned on.

If you go

Harvesting Hope

LEO was founded when a group of the parents of developmentally disabled children began to realize those children had very limited options after leaving school, Finnegan said.

“We talked to everybody in the world who does housing,” she said.

The group members finally decided that if anything was going to happen in terms of housing and activities for their children, they would have to make it happen.

Regarding housing, planners finally decided on a family-style approach with five residents and a live-in care provider in each home. The care provider oversees the running of the household, operating it largely like a small business. Finnegan and Weber both said the new home would operate along the same lines. LEO is now searching for a care provider, someone with a background in working with special-needs adults.

LEO residents are 21 and older. LEO helps with finding jobs and activities, though some of its residents only work a few days a week, Finnegan said. She added the current economy has not aided the job hunt for LEO residents.

Although they have not made any final selections regarding who will live in the new home, Weber said LEO has a waiting list of some 24 potential residents. Final choices are made based on criteria such as the compatibility of the various possible housemates.

“The idea really is to create a family,” said Finnegan, whose son Tim Finnegan, 44, lives in a LEO home.

Rose Finnegan and Searing both talked about donations helping move along construction of the new house. Finnegan said contractors donated various items, such as a garage door and gutters. A heating contractor cut a substantial amount off his estimate as a donation.

For his part, Searing especially had praise for Polygon Homes Northwest.

“We’ve been kind of their pet philanthropy for almost 10 years now,” he said. “Without them, the new house doesn’t happen. It’s that simple.”

Finnegan said LEO is still one of only a few groups offering housing for those with intellectual/developmental disabilities. She said King County only steps in in cases of emergencies.

“We try to be proactive,” Finnegan said.

Besides adding its third facility, LEO recently has grown in another way. It has added its first two employees in Weber and an administrative assistant. Finnegan said the new staffers were welcome.

“It was getting to be too much for a volunteer board,” she added.

For the future, although plans are not definite, LEO might add a fourth home somewhere in the Snoqualmie Valley. Some kind of program for clients who wish to live on their own also may be in the works. While the Harvesting Hope luncheon is a fundraiser, Weber said it’s also about raising awareness.

“We try to be an advocate for all our people,” she said.

To register or for information about Harvesting Hope, email info@lifeenrichmentoptions.org or call 274-4003. You also can go to the group’s website, www.lifeenrichmentoptions.org.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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