In early 1992 there was a group of parents of teenagers with significant disabilities. As their transition teachers instructed them, they went into the community to look for services for their children and learned that the only service available after graduation was to move their child into a large, segregated group home. These parents were dismayed by the fact that they would have to move their child out of the Ankeny area where they had relationships with other students and with community members at local establishments. What they wanted for their children was a service that would come to them and be designed specifically to meet their unique needs.
This group of parents met to discuss options for starting a not-for-profit organization to serve their children in their home-community rather than moving them out after graduation from High School. By 1993, what was then Creative Community Options, provided their first Supported Employment Services and quickly added Supported Community Living Services. All services at this time were for adults with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injury.
For the next five years, we provided services primarily in the Ankeny area and worked to obtain our first Accreditation with Distinction from The Council in 1997. In 1997, the annual budget was $300,000 and the focus of the organization began to shift to include growth in numbers and geography, while continuing to work on quality of services and organizational development.
From 1997 through 2002 we experienced slow systematic growth and developed organizational systems, while providing the same services. By late 2002, it became apparent that there was a significant unmet service need for individuals with Autism/Asperger’s, a fairly recently discovered disability with relatively little research and understanding.
In August of 2002, we were able to capture some incredible talent in this area and began serving individuals with Autism and Asperger’s. The year 2003 and 2004 were filled with rapid expansion as case managers learned about the new service. Our revenues jumped to $2.8 million in 2004 with projections for 2005 to exceed $3 million. In 2003 we added mental health services and now provide Home Based Habilitation and Supported Employment to adults who have a diagnosis of Mental Illness.
At the end of 2005 we added a full-time Mental Health Coordinator who has focused on expanding our mental health support and continues to enhance the quality of our person-centered services and expand our Autism and Mental Health support services. In early 2008 the Board of Directors voted to add Brain Injury services. At the same time the Board of Director’s role began to grow and change as well. The Board began working to sophisticate our message and expand community awareness of the services that are being offered in the community. The most important role of our Board is to communicate what we do in the community and actively participate in each of the fund-raising strategies.
Also, 2008 brought about a name change for the organization. We are now known as Candeo. It is a Latin word meaning “to grow, to shine, to grow brilliant”. The advantage of our new name is the story that we can tell. Our organization is based on providing the very best of services to our clients. Candeo means “to grow” and that is what we do when providing services to our clients; we help them grow and attain their goals. It means “to shine, to grow brilliant”. The services that we provide to our clients allow them to shine with brilliance in their everyday lives.