NEW LIFE is creating a healthy quality of life for individuals in Franklin County. Since 1979, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit has worked to bring awareness, change, and hope to individuals with mental and physical disabilities.
According to the organization’s executive director, Sherry Ashley, the program’s goal is to integrate program participants into everyday society.
“We work to help integrate our clients into our community,” she said. “When the doors opened in 1979, they served a need seen in the community. Since then, the organization has worked to increase or maintain their independence, help them develop their potential to the fullest extent, and see them fully integrated and included in our society.”
According to Ashley, the organization offers a supported living program where clients are directly assisted.
“The supported living program provides 24 hours a day staff support for 30 individuals,” she explained. “The direct support staff provides direct assistance appropriate to meet the needs of individuals in all areas of daily living, including meal preparation, self-care skills, homemaking skills, money management, safety companionship, and community activities.”
The organization also offers a day service where clients spend the day participating in several activities.
“For the day service, we provide activities in the facility setting,” explained Ashley. “We do arts and crafts, exercise, dance classes, and more. We also have clients go out in the community to participate in activities, such as bowling, shopping, or even going to the movies.”
Another critical aspect of the services they provide through New Life is helping clients navigate and take part in decisions about their health. The organization empowers its clients and provides them with the tools and information to make healthy choices and care for themselves.
“We take them to all their medical appointments,” said Ashley. “We want to include them in their medical decisions and let them [know] that these are things they need to take notice of and understand. We help them make healthy choices that will benefit their overall health.”
After 43 years of serving Franklin County, Ashley said the organization is as important today as it was in 1979.
“We help to provide a quality of life for the individuals we work with,” she said. “I think if these programs weren’t here, these individuals’ lives wouldn’t be how they are now. I think they would get lost in today’s society and the shuffle. I don’t think they would have the quality of life, and they wouldn’t have the independence they enjoy now. They also wouldn’t be as person-centered.”
While they work to enrich the lives of their clients, Ashley said that the clients add joy to their lives in return.
“They help us as much as we help them,” she said. “We provide a service, but they’re our family. It doesn’t feel like coming to a job. There are some days I cannot believe I get paid to do this. They bring so much joy to what we do.” GN