Living Well Disability Services

Living Well Disability Services: An Extended Family Affair

In 34 years, Tapemark Charity Pro-Am has given $183,627 to Living Well Disability Services

The experience of raising their daughter Sarah truly became an extended family affair for Pam and Joe Gonnella. When it became apparent that Sarah’s brain injury at age five was going to leave her with a permanent and complicated disability, people quickly joined hands to provide support. Their definition of “family” extended to include church members,
neighbors and friends as people volunteered to provide care and encouragement.

The outpouring of support began at Sarah’s hospital bedside and expanded to a daily 5-hour therapy program involving more than 90 people. Sarah’s dad Joe reflected on those days:  “The experience expanded our family. These folks not only helped Sarah but they helped us by sharing our grief and hope.”                              

As Sarah grew up, Pam and Joe sought advice and services from organizations trusted for providing support and advocacy for people impacted by disabilities. Arc Greater Twin Cities, Arc Minnesota and Living Well Disability Services provided help as Sarah and her family’s needs evolved. Each group was able to support them at different times with different supports.  These three organizations as well as ProAct (where Sarah’s brother Mark works as a brain injury specialist) benefit from the generosity of the Tapemark Charity Pro-Am.

“We speak from the heart when talking about all four organizations,” said Pam Gonnella, Sarah’s mom. “They provide essential services to people with disabilities and their families.”

In 2013, Sarah moved into her new home with Living Well Disability Services, set in a quiet and close-knit neighborhood in Mendota Heights. Sarah enjoys a full schedule of activities including her favorites: art projects, animal-assisted therapy and going to sporting events. Her weeks are also filled with activities with her housemates and family.

“Sarah’s new home with Living Well Disability Services is an answer to our prayers – for Sarah to be with people who know and love her and take good care of her,” said Pam.

About Living Well Disability Services

Living Well Disability Services delivers exceptional services that transform the lives of people impacted by intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities. Founded as Dakota’s Children in 1972 by parents, volunteers and community partners in West St. Paul, we are a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization today providing person-centered services to people living in the region. Services are available to people whever they live; in their own home, their family’s home or in one of the 33 group homes owned and operated by Living Well Disability Services. Learn more at livingwell.org