Franklin Countys First News

An open letter to the greater Farmington community from LEAP

Life Enrichment Advancing People (LEAP) would like to take a moment to thank this community for all the well wishes and other types of support we have received since the tragedy of Sept. 16, 2019. There are really no words that can adequately describe the losses and impacts to many people who were injured or directly impacted that day. A firefighter died, and another person remains hospitalized with severe injuries. Since that day, for many people, a new normal has emerged as something you can’t shake but must work through on a day to day basis.

For those of us at LEAP, we had our mission to focus on, and that helped. I think it was the same with the firefighters and first responders. The next day, and every day, they needed to get up and face the challenges before them. People needed us, our communities needed us, to remain sturdy and do our jobs.

One thing I have learned, and I think many can echo is that, from day one, our communities stayed strong and united. Everyone helped each other. At LEAP, donations, cards, supplies and people showed up and gave us anything we needed. Food, physical assistance, office space, computers, anything. We didn’t even have to ask. At the fire station, people gathered for events, fundraisers or just stopped in to say hello and thank you. Sunday evening suppers happened every week for a couple months. Churches held prayer vigils and community organizers held concerts and other benefits. So many things were happening all at once you could not possibly attend or acknowledge them all- it was a blur of hope, inspiration and good will in the face of tragedy. I will add that every single card, letter, call, text or act of support made a difference, and continues to make a difference.

So now we are four months out, and I thought I would try and answer some questions people might have, about LEAP and our plans. LEAP is an organization that is scattered throughout our communities, with well over 30 locations. We employ about 160 Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) to assist adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The people we support live their lives as ordinary people who need a little extra help here and there. They live in apartments, supported housing and homes in all the regular places, as we all do. The building we lost on the Farmington Falls Road was the result of many years of planning, saving, designing and eventually, constructing. Like any complex business we have back office function needs of accounting, human resources as well as directors and managers for certain programs. In addition, we must provide a lot of mandated training to new staff and annually to all staff. The building we lost was our new administrative and training space, the first time it had all been under one roof.

Currently, LEAP training and administration is in the space vacated by Barclay’s Bank at 128 Weld Road, in Wilton. Fortunately for us, this space was move-in ready and came with desks, chairs, training space and many of the accoutrements you need to run a business. We are grateful to Gil Reed and Marc Berry for helping us out there and with the immediacy that we needed. Currently, LEAP's board of directors and senior management are going through a process of trying to plan the next steps. We are considering staying in this location, as well as looking at other commercial options and/or building on some property we own in Farmington. We are not considering rebuilding at 313 Farmington Falls Road.

LEAP is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit charitable organization, whose charitable mission has always depended on great employees working together as a team. A team that has remained strong through the recent challenges and has big plans to emerge stronger and continue as a great resource in our community and beyond. Come find us in Wilton, or at www.leapcommunity.org.

Darryl Wood
Executive Director, LEAP

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1 Responses »

  1. Thank-you Darryl. LEAP is an organization doing it's good work that many of us "out here" don't necessarily see. We do recognize it's need and wish for it's continued success and help in the community. Best wishes to all the staff and especially to Larry and all his family.

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