LifeROOTS disability-services provider is hoping to reopen for in-person interactions this fall.

A $5,000 Cable One grant presented through the local Sparklight office is helping employees prepare. LifeROOTS Director of Adult Programs Angela Ortega said the nonprofit was the only entity in New Mexico to receive one of the spring 2021 Cable One Charitable Giving Fund grants.

The money is going toward implementing COVID-safety practices to allow reopening of the LifeROOTS Rio Rancho location, which Ortega hopes will be at the end of September.

Before the pandemic, LifeROOTS, which serves children and adults with disabilities, had 40-45 clients in Rio Rancho.

Now it has 22 City of Vision clients eagerly awaiting the return of in-person services, she said.

LifeROOTS CEO Matthew Molina said participants set goals for their daily lives, and employees work with them to reach those aims.

“The important thing is, this $5,000 is going to go a long way to meeting those goals and furthering our mission,” he said.

LifeROOTS CEO Matthew Molina, center, in suit, and his team accept a $5,000 Cable One Charitable Giving Fund grant from local Sparklight General Manager Jane Shipley, just right of Molina, and her team at the Rio Rancho Sparklight office July 30. The grant will help the Rio Rancho LifeROOTS location open for in-person services with COVID-safe practices.
(Courtesy photo)

Ortega said the grant will help LifeROOTS buy personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies and more table-top activity items such as blocks and marbles so staff members can sanitize them between uses without causing delays.

The table-top activities are often part of occupational, physical and cognitive therapy sessions.

The Sparklight grant funds will also allow employees to rearrange the Rio Rancho LifeROOTS building and possibly get more equipment, all to allow for social distancing.

“So that way we don’t put anybody at risk,” Ortega said.

Molina said LifeROOTS is working with the state to be sure it meets all reopening safety requirements.

Employees are also doing a thorough review of the facility, from the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system to lighting to parking, to make sure everything is ready for reopening.

LifeROOTS has been providing virtual services during the pandemic and won’t stop doing so even after reopening, she said.

“We will continue offering that service, as there is a demand for that,” Ortega said.

Also, Ortega said leaders are revamping the nonprofit’s documentation system on top of the COVID-safety practices to allow for more focus on participants.

“We want to make the job easier for our employees so they can focus on person-centered services,” she said.

LifeROOTS already aims for those person-centered services, Ortega said, with participants deciding what they want to do and staff members helping them do it.

Molina said it’s important for people to know that LifeROOTS will open for in-person services again.

“We’re just really, really looking forward to opening back up, and I think the participants are, as well,” he said.

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