A new name and renewed purpose will lead to a transformation of the field
Milwaukee – A historic
day has arrived for Bethesda and for people with intellectual and developmental
disabilities across the country.
When Bethesda first came to be in 1904, it was a
small Wisconsin organization serving just five people. Since
then, it has changed the lives of tens of thousands of people and their
families, and soon, the organization will write the next chapter in its story
as it unveils a new brand name and a renewed focus on serving the whole person.
Bethesda has announced that as of Jan. 10, 2022, it will become AbleLight,
a name chosen to reflect the many skills and talents of people with
disabilities while also demonstrating how the organization will be a guiding
light for people and the field as a whole.
“Our purpose is clear – we believe the world shines brighter when people with developmental disabilities achieve their full potential,” said Cesar Villalpando, Chairperson of the Bethesda Board of Directors. “With more than 7 million Americans who have an intellectual or developmental disability, our services are more essential than ever before. And our unique approach to supporting the whole person and our drive to continuously improve the world for people with disabilities are what set AbleLight apart in the disability field.”
Creating a bold future today
In addition to the corporate
name change, Bethesda is announcing:
- AbleLight Innovation Center launch: Today Bethesda announces the opening of the AbleLight Innovation Center, a research and development hub for the use of technology to improve independence and well-being for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The center is located in the Germania Building in downtown Milwaukee near university and corporate partners. It is here that assistive technology is conceived, developed and launched across the country. A soft opening occurred earlier this year.
- College expansion to Michigan: For young people leaving high school, Bethesda College at Concordia University Wisconsin (soon to be AbleLight College) builds life and work skills in young adults, getting them ready to dream big and accomplish more. Today, Bethesda announces the expansion to Concordia University Ann Arbor in Michigan, planned for next fall. Additional campuses are anticipated.
- Aggressive expansion of core services: With the goal of serving the whole person, AbleLight will increase services including behavioral supports, host homes and supported living services, as well as financial services.
“Through programs like AbleLight
College and our Innovation Center, and thanks to the creativity and dedication
of our team, we are fulfilling our promise – to pioneer life-changing services
that empower the people we serve to thrive,” said Dave Sneddon, Interim
President and CEO of Bethesda. “We will create a bold future for people with
The name “AbleLight” was chosen
after much discussion and engagement with stakeholders, including people served
and their families, as well as employees and donors.
“Over the course of the last
year, we connected with hundreds of individuals and asked what was important to
them,” said Cindy Moon-Mogush, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer. “We took
these valuable perspectives as our starting point, and we considered our
history and our plans for the future. From there, we identified and vetted a
new name – AbleLight – from more than 1,000 choices. AbleLight will further differentiate
us as a leader in our field and help us expand our reach nationally.”
Five impact areas
Going forward, AbleLight will be
focused on five impact areas to enhance the lives of people at every age and
stage, from children to seniors:
Safe and Loving Homes: A
great life starts with a great home, and AbleLight will continue to provide a
variety of housing
options to meet every need, including group homes, supported
living and host home arrangements.
Just ask Chris, who has a mild
intellectual disability and lives in a host home in Colorado. With the love and
support of his host home family, Chris stays on track with his personal care,
money management and taking his medications. Because of his safe home, Chris
can hold down a job and live more independently, pursuing his love of video
games and sports. Most importantly, he is loved.
AbleLight will expand the
Village concept, a first-of-its-kind residential community uniting individuals
with disabilities with people of all abilities in a loving, welcoming
environment. “Creative housing options such as these help people live as
independently as possible while maintaining a meaningful connection to their
community,” said Sneddon.
Financial Security: Managing
money can be stressful for anyone, but for a person with a disability and their
family, it can be daunting. To help, AbleLight’s Financial Services
team will provide one-on-one consultation and support to help people navigate
the complex world of benefits and achieve their financial goals. This includes
rep payee services, Medicaid redeterminations, Social Security reporting and
ABLE account support and training.
Independence and Wellbeing: AbleLight
will make it possible to achieve joy in daily living. As just one example,
through its emerging Behavior Supports
area, the organization provides individualized treatment plans for people with
disabilities and their families to promote positive behavior change. This has
made a world of difference in helping people achieve their life goals.
One-on-one support guides the
transition from school-based services to independent living, and from adult
living skills to on-the-job
support. Take Emma, who lives at Cornerstone Village in Minnesota. She receives
individualized support with her job, and is adding on supported living services
to help her complete day to day tasks. She is thriving as a result.
Innovation and Technology: AbleLight
will innovate for good, researching and developing new technology to improve
all aspects of life for people with disabilities, and will provide customized
solutions to meet individual needs. Assistive smart home technology is deployed
in a growing number of homes, including Cornerstone Village, promoting safety,
security and independence. Technology is developed and distributed from the
AbleLight Innovation Center.
Community and Faith: A
strong connection to the community is vital to a life well lived. AbleLight
will make that connection through day programs,
virtual programming, faith connections, and volunteering options that bring
people together. For example, Paul, a Bethesda volunteer in Oregon, leads Bible
studies for people in group homes, including prayer and singing worship songs
in English and Spanish. Paul has contributed his time and talent to many
conferences over the years and is a real blessing to the organization and the
people who call him a friend.
AbleLight will continue to offer
thrift shops as a
connection point with the community and a meaningful source of revenue for
Announcing the new name
Bethesda employees received a
sneak peek of the new name during a special event held at Hales Corners
Lutheran Church in Hales Corners, Wis. It featured Christian artist Building
429 and was emceed by Megan Alexander, correspondent for “Inside Edition” and a
popular speaker on faith and work. Additional events are planned as the January
official “go live” date approaches.
Information about AbleLight and
the transition will be shared on social media and a dedicated page on the
Bethesda website, BethesdaLC.org/AbleLight.
Bethesda is a national leader in
pioneering life-changing services that empower people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities to thrive. Founded in 1904 in Wisconsin, Bethesda
promotes independence and inclusion across the U.S. through comprehensive
and individualized supports that include housing, employment, financial
services, assistive technology and much more. In January 2022, Bethesda will
become AbleLight. For details, go to http://www.bethesdalc.org, like
page and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.