While some agencies throughout the State of Washington, providing services to people experiencing developmental and intellectual disabilities may struggle in assisting individuals to identify and accomplish their goals, others have figured out a path to success. Total Living Concepts (TLC) is one such agency!
Total Living Concept (TLC)’s Community Access team has been finding spectacular success assisting people to identify and achieve their goals. Not only are the people they serve becoming active in the community in ways they never thought possible, they are forging real friendships and contributing significantly to their community. Some have even become employed without even looking for a job. TLC’s CA Program Manager Josie Sparks brims with excitement when she shares stories about her team’s ability to create amazing movement in the lives of the people they serve. Together they have created a truly dynamic and effective team and service.
How do they do this? Do they have advice for others who are struggling?
Sparks, a competitive paddler hailing from Hawaii, brings a big spirit to this work. Her eyes sparkle. Her spiky black hair vibrates. Her face is continuously lit up like a festival. Her belief in the ability of all people to transform their lives by setting truly transformational goals is enormous and her team not only shares this belief but lives and breathes it. This is Sparks’ life work and great talent. Her background as a personal trainer and the stories of transformation she shares are truly awe inspiring. She and her team attribute their success to the following:
- Believe in people’s abilities to achieve success beyond what anyone has yet imagined.
- Support from agency leadership is TLC is grounded in person-centeredness, with dignity and respect at the heart of its mission and being. Their mission statement gives them not only a direction but a way of being. Leadership ensures those who work in the agency strive to live their mission day in and day out. Click here to read their Mission Statement.
- At every moment they allow the people they support to become independent and capable in every action possible. Their team doesn’t provide lip service alone to their goal of working themselves out of a job. They are motivated to make themselves not necessary. For example they do not open doors for people who are capable of doing so, or they help people who don’t seem currently capable to figure out how to open doors in their own way. They put themselves in check whenever they feel the urge to step in and assist/caretake. They assess, recognize and step back every time they see themselves stepping in and not allowing a person to do things. They realize that stepping in actually perpetuates disability and stunts growth.
- They constantly push themselves and others to raise the bar and reach for what might seem ‘unobtainable at the moment.’ They do not settle for mediocre goals. Through dedication, patience and allowing people to self-direct, change their minds, try and fail, but never give up, they support people to not only believe in themselves but develop their own vision and achieve substantially better lives. This is the core of who they are and why they help people succeed.
- They hire people from all walks of life who want to assist in the great work of personal transformation. They look for staff who can bring their own unique richness to the team.
- They are fascinated by people and their stories. They are fueled by learning as a lifelong activity and this process is what makes life not only meaningful but fun, exciting and beautiful.
- Their belief in the abilities of people are rock solid. They KNOW that people are incredibly capable and recognize the important role of support and encouragement.
- Josie as a manager has open communication and gives tireless support but never stops challenging her team. She gets them what they need and gets out of their way. She never lets the bar of high expectations drop. She clears the way for staff to experiment within boundaries and is both flexible and nurturing. Josie creates a sense of family, is achievement-focused, person-focused, endlessly supportive and helps them celebrate every achievement no matter how small. She has their backs. She makes it safe to go out on a limb and support actual dreams and help people make them real.
- They do not give up and they just do not stop. Because of this dedication, TLC has made a real mark and helped others to set expectations high for all community members. They believe the sky is the limit for those they support so they shoot for the stars every time.