FESTIVITIES — The holidays at Bona Vista are always full of surprises, like when Santa comes to visit Day Service programming and brings Mrs. Claus. The adults served, like Christie McKinney, always get a kick out of sitting on Santa’s lap and seeing what goodies the volunteers have to share.

I want to introduce you to a couple of our adults who started coming to Bona Vista Programs as children in our preschool program.

It’s true! There have been many times over the past six decades when a child came to us for preschool or therapy services and then came back to us after high school to continue as an adult. Take Christie McKinney, for example. She started at Bona Vista receiving occupational and physical therapies when she was 9 months old and attended preschool with us, too!

Christie is one of the friendliest people you will ever meet. She has her shy moments or times when she just wants her book and a diet coke. But, she has the best smile, enjoys getting her nails painted each week, and loves her staff at Bona Vista.

Not only does Christie come to us for Sky’s the Limit day programming, but she also lives in one of our residential group homes. She enjoys getting her dance on and loves interacting with others. She can be ornery, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

It makes you pause to think, though, where would Christie be or what would she be doing if Bona Vista ceased to exist? Let me say this – her parents are fantastic! So, there is no doubt in my mind that they would go to the ends of the Earth to make sure Christie’s days were full of learning and fun. However, that would mean that they wouldn’t be able to work outside of the home, and Christie wouldn’t have as much independence.

Christie isn’t the only one either. There are many like her and some who don’t have such wonderful parents in the picture. What would happen to them? Who would look after them?

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I’ll give you one more example – Kenny Martin. Kenny came to Bona Vista for preschool and now participates in our Opportunity Knocks program. If you’re not familiar, the Opportunity Knocks program helps adults learn job readiness skills. They interview professionals in different fields, learn resume writing, work on math and customer service skills needed to work in our Corner Décor gift store, and so much more.

Thanks to all that he has learned in that program, and with help from his employment specialist, Kenny now works at the Kokomo Family YMCA! In addition, Kenny lives in one of Bona Vista’s Supported Living housing locations. What does that mean? Kenny lives on his own and receives just a little assistance with some daily living skills. Otherwise, he’s an independent man. And, I feel like I say this about most of our people, but he is genuinely nice. He’s caring, compassionate, and loves to be around other people. Oh, and he can sing! That’s one of the only times he doesn’t stutter, too. How cool is that?

Again, when I think about Kenny I think about where he’d be or who he’d be living with or what he’d be doing without the services that Bona Vista Programs has provided for the past 61 years. We know that many of our adults have family that still come to get them for holidays or weekends, but some of them don’t. We know that for some of our adults, we are the only family they have. That’s a big responsibility. And, we take it on willingly because we love them and consider it an honor.

That’s also why we ask for your support so often through volunteerism or fund raising. It takes a village to make an organization like ours work and maintain for another 60 years. But, when you think of our organization I don’t want you to just think about the people sitting behind desks or staff who work with our individuals. I want you to think about the individuals we serve – their stories, their well-being, their needs and desires. When you think about Bona Vista Programs, I want you to think of Christie and Kenny and the future individuals we will serve that we haven’t even met yet.

If you’d like to take a tour of our organization, donate to the cause or find out how you can support those we serve, don’t hesitate to contact me at or 765-457-8273.