Friday, January 20, 2012

IKEA Life Improvement Project

In the summer of 2006, I was part of the United Way campaign with my place of employment, which was Ohio National at the time.  As part of the campaign we got to visit some of the facilities United Way supported.  One of those places we got to visit was The Stepping Stone Center.  I remembered the name Stepping Stone Center from when I had worked at Kings Island and I was in charge of their picnic when they came to Kings Island.  And I thought the name of the place was cool, but had no idea what they were about.  So with Ohio National we got to tour the facility and meet some of the people who got to take part in some of their programs. 

Fast forward to 2010.  I was approached by my boss at the time Shane at IKEA, that they were doing a contest for a nonprofit organization to win $10,000 dollars for their organization to use however they would need.  This is called The Life Improvement Project  Why me?  I thought.  The organization had to fit the IKEA values of helping kids, and could not be offiliated with a religious establishment.  This was a challenge for me as I am so involved with Boy Scouts (a scout is reverent) and my church, I had no idea of one that was not religious based.  It's who I am......Then I remembered......The Stepping Stone Center!  And so the investigation began.  They met and far exceeded the criteria for this project.  And so began the building of the presentation.  This was no easy task.  I recruited some work peeps to help, we arranged a tour of the facility, and then we had to write up a proposal using 500 words, and how we would spend the money.  Touring and hearing about all the work they do was the best part.  Meeting some of the kids and adults they help to learn basic life skills was humbling and rewarding.  As a parent of a child with special needs, I can appreciate the work that they do for kids with Autism, and behavioral problems.  I am fortunate to be in a school district that has programs to help kids with special needs and learning difficulties, and that Perry has learned to cope with his limitations that he's able to stay in a regular school.  Many kids don't have that priviledge.  Stepping Stone Center had programs who help kids who are unable to learn in a regular school enviroment.  They have teachers who are able to work with kids one on one to help them learn in a way that is most comfortable for them.  This is huge for kids with severe autism.  And what happens to these kids when they become adults?  It's hard for them to get a job, or learn normal everyday life skills.  Stepping Stone Center is equipt to help with these concepts.
 Heres a Group shot of us and some fo the Adults
Here is the Desk area in one of the program areas that could use some organization

Heres a Student in the school age building writting his name on the project board.

Last year we made it to the final round but did not win in the voting round, where only 5 projects were rewarded the $10,000 dollar grant.  This year we submitted our project again, and this year each of the 36 stores in the US get $10,000 for a project that wins at their store.  My friends and I have been feverishly begging for votes.  In creative's been 2 weeks, and I am just now posting to my blog.  Tomorrow is the last day of voting. 

Please help us win this year!
Text to: 62345
Message: Life97

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