By: Waverly Ann Harris, Executive Director
Closing out the decade and entering a new one is an exciting time for the Friends and team at Friends Life Community. Twenty-nineteen ended with incredible growth for the organization, FLC is now poised for a strong 2020 to focus on strengthening the programs that have propelled the Friends to new heights and successes.
In 2019 FLC developed 11 new classes for the day program, expanded the one-on-one coaching program, added drama therapy as a service, increased sales for the social enterprise, and developed an inclusive employment training for employers and teams of all sizes. The Friends redefined self-advocacy with the performing and visual arts program, now known as Advocacy Through the Arts and performed for over 1,500 community members. With so much growth, we celebrate 2019 and is now time to move ahead into the 2020’s. Twenty-twenty is our year to focus our vision and prepare for monumental growth and sustainable support over the next 10 years
Our expectations for 2020 include:
- Strengthening and Replicating Classes
We have evidence that our current program classes create positive impact on the Friends, family members, and the community. We plan to focus on strengthening the current programs and being able to replicate successes across environments to increase capacity to serve more individuals and impact more families.
- Training Employers and Teams on Inclusion in the community
Upon receiving a grant from the Disability Coalition of TN, Friends Life Community has created a leadership training that equips companies, breaks down the barriers and fears, and provides a tool kit for companies looking to integrate inclusion employment into their company culture. Friends Life Community will be working with local companies guiding them in building an inclusive culture.
- 4,000 and Counting Audience Members for Advocacy Through the Arts
Self-advocacy is the foundation in which one builds upon success. FLC has received funding from TN Council on Developmental Disabilities and is partnering with TPAC to give the Friends even more opportunities to share their stories in the community. When individuals practice self-advocacy, they build confidence and communication which leads to improving independence at home, navigating the community, building healthy relationships, and creating opportunities to be meaningfully employed.
Look for the Friends on stage at TPAC’s Polk Theatre in the fall of 2020.
- Purchase FRIENDMADE gifts online and at local events
We don’t believe that there are barriers to employment, just unseen opportunities! With the FLC Social Enterprise on the rise, we are coming at 2020 with one of a kind FRIENDMADE items for the home from pillows, tea-towels, and ready to hang artwork! The Friends have found a way to bring joy to someone year-round, yet also creating a sustainable model for meaningful and FUN employment. Our online store will be open and active by Mother’s Day, www.friendslife.org.
- Increasing Impact Through Drama Therapy
FLC has one of three drama therapists* in TN on staff. Sarah Edwards, who is the FLC Performing Arts Specialist has a passion to help those in need express themselves is positive constructive ways that promotes healing and facilitates change. Through storytelling, projective play, purposeful improvisation, and performance, participants are invited to rehearse desired behaviors, practice being in relationships, expand and find flexibility between life roles, and perform the change they wish to be and see in the world.
*RDTs are board certified in practice of drama therapy and follow the North American Drama Therapy Association Code of Ethics.