Avenues SLS to host cornhole fundraiser May 13

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News release 

Avenues Supported Living Services will be hosting its 7th Annual Cornhole Tournament Fundraiser on Saturday, May 13, at Lucky Luke Brewery. 

Community members of all ability levels are invited to register to play. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and prizes for the top three teams will be awarded. The cost to enter a team of two is $100 per team. Last-minute registration fees are $120 per team.  

Avenues SLS is a nonprofit agency committed to the belief that all individuals, regardless of their disability, have the right to become productive, fully participating members of their communities. Each year Avenues SLS helps individuals with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities succeed in many different areas. Their staff members enable individuals to live in a home or apartment of their choosing and create their own personal lifestyle. Instructional coaches provide support at home and in the community, building relationships, community living skills, career development and other support services.  

Maureen and Gary Spindt’s 40-year-old daughter, Janelle, is one of the individuals Avenues SLS supports. Janelle is challenged with intellectual disabilities and treatment-resistant schizophrenia.  

Maureen Spindt said, “After numerous hospitalizations and two failed group home placements, we are very grateful for Avenues Supported Living Services. Despite Janelle’s frequent auditory hallucinations, we are thrilled that with the help of her wonderful support staff, Janelle has successfully lived in her own home for over 10 years, volunteers at several places in the community, and enjoys many social and recreational activities.” 

In addition, Avenues SLS also provides people with disabilities with competitive integrated employment opportunities and access to a distribution center to obtain free gently used household items, clothes, furniture, and merchandise such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, and other merchandise. Individuals who are non-verbal, or who don’t communicate traditionally, and those with speech and language impairments, benefit from various augmentative and assistive communication devices such as picture boards, touchscreen tablets, and keyboards to help them overcome barriers toward independence and inclusion.   

Avenues SLS also hosts holiday celebrations, parties and travel trips, since many of the people they support may no longer have living family members and most lack the financial resources for these life-enhancing activities.  

Founded by Scott and Lori Shepard in 1997, Avenues SLS was one of the first Santa Clarita-based supported living agencies. Scott serves as the agency’s executive director and Lori is the director of operations.  

In a statement released by the organization, Scott shared this story of one of the people they support: Toby lived at Fairview Developmental Center, a state hospital in Costa Mesa, from the time he was 15, until 2007, when he was 27 years old. He lived in a locked residential unit and slept under his bed for the entire 13 years he resided there.  

He had a history of being put in five-point restraints, where, as Toby describes, “They tie you down by your hands and feet on a box spring and tie your head down, too. Then, they would hit me with a wet towel.”  

Toby was put in five-points as recently as two weeks before he left the institution in 2007. When Toby was confined in closed, crowded areas, or when people got in his face, Toby would “get a little nervous.” This would often lead to what Toby calls “issues” and sometimes the use of five-point restraints. 

Within a month of Toby being in Avenues SLS, it was identified that Toby had “issues” because of his anxiety. When he felt people were confronting him too much (“getting pushy”), or getting in his face or personal space, this led to “issues.” Avenues SLS was able to assist Toby by reducing or eliminating several medications, which helped him tremendously.   

Toby lives in his own apartment and splits the rent and utilities with his roommate, who also provides some of Toby’s live-in support. He worked at Six Flags Magic Mountain as a park attendant for five years, and was honored through Los Angeles County as the 2014 L.A. County Volunteer of the Year at Placerita Nature Center. Toby is a public speaker at regional and state conferences and is an advocate for the elimination of the use of restraints and seclusion.  

Lucky Luke is located at 25108 Rye Canyon Loop in Valencia. To register for the May 13 cornhole fundraiser, visit bit.ly/AveCHTickets. For additional information on the fundraiser or Avenues SLS, call the office at 661-702-9788 or visit www.AvenuesSLS.org 

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