On Thursday Sept. 23, the Julie and Gary Ransdell Living Learning Community at LifeWorks hosted a ribbon cutting event for the grand opening of the living learning residential and community building.
LifeWorks at WKU is a two-year residential program designed to support living, working and recreation for individuals on the autism spectrum who are 21 years of age and older.
The apartment buildings located on Adams Street were completely renovated in 2019 and finished in 2020. Due to COVID-19, the community only had two participants in that cohort. This year there are ten participants in the cohort, but they have room for twenty-eight people.
David Wheeler, the director of LifeWorks LLC, explained the new parts of the community and what the program is all about.
“Life Works at WKU is a two year structured program that offers on site housing at the Julie and Gary Ransdell living learning community,” Wheeler said. “Our participants engage in support employment services, community engagement, and independent daily living skills training.”
The Life Works LLC offers the Bridge Program for participants who aren’t ready to live on site. They are given the opportunity to participate in classroom instruction only.
Both options allow the participants to be provided with critical training for future employment and daily independent living.
Mary Lloyd Moore, executive director of the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex, was also there to speak at the grand opening event.
“Today the dedication of the Julie and Gary Ransdell Living Learning Community, a 501c3 that is the outgrowth of the CEC is the combination of amazing vision, generosity and support for a program that can also serve as a model for many communities with in the commonwealth and beyond,” Moore said.
Moore went on to thank the sponsors, directors, and many other important people involved in making this living learning community and ribbon cutting event possible.
Former WKU President Gary Ransdell and Julie Ransdell, the people who the Living Learning Community was named after, spoke at the event.
“I am wearing the puzzle piece which is a sign and symbol for autism and it’s all the pieces of the puzzle that got together. No two puzzle pieces are the same, similar to autism, which makes it hard to treat, diagnose, or understand,” Julie said. “ This living learning community is just another piece of that puzzle and it all goes together for us to help these young adults become productive adults that can live on their own.”
Gary Ransdell spoke after Julie Ransdell in thanking the people who helped make their vision possible.
The event coordinators and directors invited all of the LLC participants and important members of the event up to cut the ribbon together. The common building was open for refreshments and a tour was given to anyone who wanted to see the residential and common areas of the Living Learning Community.
“It’s this program that will pave the way for your success and I can’t wait to see what each of you become in the years ahead,” Ransdell said. “Bill Gatton is the donor that provided five million dollars to build and renovate this facility and to make it possible today for us to do this.”
News reporter Makaio Smith can be reached [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @MakaioSmith