Integrated Living Opportunities is a non-profit organization that is devoted to helping families with special needs build supportive, integrated communities. These communities enable safe, productive, independent living options for their young adults with developmental disabilities. Since our organization was founded in 2016, we have grown by leaps and bounds, sharing our model of establishing supportive communities for self advocates in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
2018 in particular was a banner year for our organization, and 2019 promises to follow suit. We have many plans for the upcoming year, including working to ensure that our self advocates continue to build and lead full lives, growing the ILO team, and working hard to spread our message and expand our model into the Northern Virginia area.
The ILO Team
In 2016, ILO hired our very first employee. Sherita Mason was welcomed on board to act as a part time community builder for our new community pod in The Crossings, Gaithersburg. Over the last two years, we have welcomed many more individuals to the ILO team. To date, our team includes an Executive Director, three Community Builders, a Skills Inventory Master Consultant, ILO Community Group Coordinator, and a Life Skills Coach. All of these professional, skilled and valued employees help ILO create an infrastructure that enables ILO to become an organization that is both sustainable and a model of best practices.
In 2019, our primary goal is to raise enough money to attract a full-time executive director and to fund that position for at least two years. The board believes that recruiting a high quality, experienced and committed person is the most important thing we can do to secure ILO’s future.
ILO’s Accomplishments in 2018
In the last year, ILO has achieved many of our goals. Some of our most celebrated accomplishments include:
- Grew the organization from 23 to 29 families
- Helped 6 self-advocates move into a “home of their own”
- Created and nurtured ILO Community Group (ICG), which is 58 members strong
- Provided consistent and valuable presentations for families on important topics such as ABLE Act, Fannie Mae, State Waiver Systems, etc.
- Hired 2 additional community builders, thereby increasing community access for 13 self advocates
- Raised more than 45,000 in donations and generated more than $95,000 in fee-for-service and membership activities
Plans for 2019
As mentioned, one of our primary goals for 2019 is to acquire enough funding to hire a dedicated Executive Director, for a minimum 2-year term. We also have created another position, Community Life Coordinator, to our team. The Community Life Coordinator will ensure consistency across the community pods by developing goals and planning for each pod, in addition to communicating with self advocates’ families and supervising community builders and Life & Skills Coaches. We are very proud to announce that our first employee, Sherita Mason, has agree to take on this role, and we look forward to watching her succeed in the coming months.
In addition to pursuing those goals, 2019 will be devoted to our 29 ILO self-advocates. We plan to support these individuals and their families as the self-advocates continue to build and enjoy full lives. This includes working with staff to ensure that all self advocates are connected to their communities and their peers, and are working on creating and strengthening personal and professional support networks. As mentioned, we also plan to continue to grow our organization, by expanding into Northern Virginia and welcoming new families into the ILO community.
If you are interested in learning about ILO, or becoming a participating family, please contact us. We would love to learn about your journey, and introduce you to the ILO community.
Currently, ILO supports itself through several sources of income. Examples include fees for services, such as Community Builders and Skills Inventories, membership dues for participating in the ILO Community Group. Fundraising efforts, such as our annual Bike and Hike and Beers-n-Cheers also play a role in financing our operation. We also pursue government and foundation grants.
Finally, we often rely on individual contributions made by community members, such as yourself. If you would like to help us meet our goals, please contact us. You may also make a donation by following this link, or by mailing a check to ILO: 5603 Potomac Ave, NW North Entrance, Washington, D.C. 20016. Thank you for all your support – we look forward to continue to exceed your expectations in the coming year.