Why we Started
My Life Foundation, Inc. was established in July of 2004 as a non-profit agency to provide quality services to individuals with developmental disabilities. To insure greater integrity and sustainability, I formed My Life Foundation as a non-profit with a board of directors which serves as the foundations governing board to oversee operations and services.
We now have been providing services for over a decade! We started with 15 staff serving 5 clients in our supported living program; we now are serving over 125 individuals and employ more then 215 dedicated employees. We serve a large geographic area, from the Westside of Los Angeles to the San Fernando Valley and Palmdale.
Our growth has been amazing and has been made possible by the great work and dedication of our direct staff, and by the superb leadership of Tim DeHaven, Jim DeHaven, Edgar Madrigal and Erik Duzell Sr.
In addition to our supported living services we now have added the My Day program providing specialized day services to those who are either medically fragile or whose behavioral needs are such that they are not a good fit for traditional day programs.
With this in mind, the Board and I began a strategic planning process this fall. We are in the preliminary stages of working with a consultant, Dr. Betty Glick, who will facilitate the process for us. This will be the Foundation’s first strategic plan; it will help us better plan for the future, and provide a framework for improvement and maximizing our strengths.
The desire to support people with disabilities comes from a very personal place . At age two my twin brother developed a brain tumor causing severe physical and intellectual disabilities. Through my parent’s efforts I learned that with some creative thinking, and hard work, many things are possible.
My parents made the decision to raise Doug at home knowing that our lives would be different, however they wanted to make sure that Doug’s disability wouldn’t stop the family from doing all the fun things that families do together. Having Doug in our lives gave us all the opportunity to know him, see him grow and teach us a little more about the world and the people that live in it. Even though Doug has physical and cognitive difficulties, he was included in camping trips, boat trips, day outings to amusement parks, dirt bike rides and tandem bicycles ride. Doug and I shared a bedroom for 18 years until I went to college. In those years Doug and I played, cried, laughed, doing all the things that siblings and families to together. The whole family was richer for having Doug in our lives.
All this may not seem unusual by today’s standards, but in the early ‘60s this was an accomplishment. My parents had no instructional support from a state agency, no occupational therapist who came to our home to ensure all the needed equipment was available, no respite services to give my parents a deserving break and no support from our local school system to teach Doug much needed skills. The law that created regional center system which provided the supports for people with developmental disabilities, didn’t occur until Doug was nearly 11 years old. I have often stated that the lessons I learned from my parents and Doug provided me with the best education on how to support, teach and provide a quality of life for a person with a developmental disability. These experiences created some of the philosophical principles that My Life Foundation is built upon. Principles that we use every day in providing services that are centered for the individual assisting them build a quality life.