Ricky Brennan Receives Caring Community Award

Article by: Fred Nystrom

For the past four years, LEO has sponsored the Caring Community Award, which is given annually at the Issaquah Community Awards Banquet. The award highlights individuals who have given of their time to assist those with developmental disabilities, and/or those who have been instrumental in promoting inclusion and community cooperation.

This year, the award was given to a very surprised Ricky Brennan, a resident of the Rose House. Ricky was invited to a “dinner” by his father, Tim, and had no idea that he was joining over 100 community leaders for the evening of awards.

Fred Nystrom, the Executive Director of LEO, in his introduction of Ricky said in part:

“Ricky is an active Aktion Club member with the Kiwanis and has worked for the past 16 years at the Issaquah Costco Warehouse. And by the way, for you employers looking for faithful employees, Ricky has never missed a day of work in all that time. One of the things Ricky enjoys doing is helping the Kiwanis Club set up their food stand for the Concerts on the Green. He is described by the Kiwanians as getting things done quickly and correctly. He has also volunteered on many other fundraisers. 

Ricky is proof that we each have the capacity to give back to our community and by doing so, we help to improve the quality of life for everyone.” 

Well done, Ricky! We are so proud to have you in the LEO family.

Searing Sibs Go to Washington

By: Katherine J. Searing, J.D.

The National Disability Policy Seminar: a yearly event where family, friends, professionals, politicians, and self-advocates come together to discuss issues, new and old, which affect the lives of individuals with disabilities.  Issaquah natives Katie and Wil Searing were honored to be selected as the Arc of Washington representatives to this year’s seminar, and they had a lot to say, see, and do.

Wil Searing has autism and lives in an adult family home owned by the LEO organization in Issaquah, so he brings a first person perspective of many federal programs that affect his everyday life including housing, employment opportunities, and federal benefit programs. Katie Searing is a disability law attorney in Seattle practicing with the Dussault Law Group. She represents a wide variety of clients affected by disabilities and federal programs.

The Seminar is a three-day event with two days of lectures and panel discussions, and one day dedicated to “Hill visits.” Katie and Wil met with all of the Congressional delegates representing Issaquah on the federal level: Representative Dave Reichert, Senator Patty Murray, and Senator Maria Cantwell. Wil, with help from Katie, explained the importance of adult family homes in the community, employment opportunities and assistance, and educational opportunities and accommodations for individuals with disabilities.  Representative Dave Reichert, who has previously visited Wil’s adult family home, agreed that education is critically important to our society. He also let Wil sit in his chair and pick up his phone. Representative Reichert let Wil know that he has talked to the President on that phone. He asked Wil what he would say to the President. Wil promptly responded with, “You rock, Obama!”

The Seminar was a great opportunity for the Searing siblings to learn about disability policy issues and how to advocate for themselves and others in the community. Wil invited Representative Reichert, Senator Cantwell, and Senator Murray and their staff to the LEO houses to learn more about his home and how they can help the disability community back at home from Washington D.C.

LEO on Kiro Radio

We want to thank KIRO radio for visiting The Angela House on Issaquah Highlands and interviewing Evelyn Galasso, Nancy Whitaker, Rose Finnegan, and Fred Nystrom on Thursday October 1st. It features the way our homes are run in the community and how difficult it is to find a new location to build the next LEO home.


Drum Class Starting July 25th

LEO is going offer a drum class taught by Shane Shook starting July 25th!

Shane is a local musician and teacher with nearly twenty years of drum experience. The class is a nine week session, which will be eight weeks of instruction followed by one recital. Families and friends are welcome to come to the recital so the students can show off what they’ve learned.

Location: Memorial Field House: 105 2nd Ave NE Issaquah, WA. 98027

Cost: $100 (includes recital, 8 week instruction and use of drums)

Please contact Abbey White: abbey.white@lifeenrichmentoptions.org to coordinate the collection of donated instruments.

Caring Community Award presented to Eli and Jim Dever

img5Annually, Issaquah has the Community Awards banquet where the city, chamber and local organizations honor exceptional volunteers and those who have given many years of service to the community.

Three years ago LEO introduced the first Caring Community Award to honor those who have done exceptional work in promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities into community activities.

This year, LEO’s Executive Director presented the Caring Community Award to a very surprised father and son team, Jim and Eli Dever. Eli was acknowledged for his kindness as a repeat driver in the Issaquah and Sammamish Challenge Series races over several years. “Eli was always the driver we could count on to show special care to even the most impacted of the co-drivers”. Eli has now outgrown the ability to fit into the race cars and has been ‘retired’. His actions have set the new standards for all future drivers to live up to.

Jim Dever was honored for the work he has done in making videos to explain how a LEO home functions and how the residents add to the life of the community. Jim has also been instrumental in volunteering at local Challenge Series races and presenting the races on Evening Magazine.

Mother’s Brunch 2015


Thank you to all who attended our Mother’s Brunch in celebration of moms of kids with developmental disabilities this year. We had a packed house with families enjoying the wonderful brunch provided by the catering team at Swedish Hospital and the melodious sounds of Tim Scallon. Tavon Center provided the fun flower pot activity that brought out the creative side of kids young and old. For those of you who missed out on the fun, don’t worry, we will be doing it again next year!

An extra big thank you to all who made this event possible: Swedish Hospital, Nicole Yurchak, Tabitha Ryberg, Tavon Center, Megan Hamilton, Becky Gordon, Tim Scallon, and the many volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without you!

GiveBig 2015


Thanks to all who participated in this year’s GiveBig Campaign put on by the Seattle Foundation. Because of your generosity, we raised the most we have ever raised during GiveBig! The total brought in drum roll please $3421!!! We were also just informed by the Seattle Foundation that they will also be sending us additional funds based on the total amount of money pledged (stretch pool). We were blown away by the success of this campaign and can’t wait until next year to go even bigger with GiveBig 2016.

Drum Drive

img2LEO is going offer a drum class taught by Shane Shook. Shane is a local musician and teacher with nearly twenty years of drum experience and has experience instructing people with developmental disabilities. To help outfit the class with drums and percussion instruments, we need some help. Do you have a pair of maracas or a type of drum that you no longer use and would be willing to donate to LEO for this awesome class? Spread the word and help us make this class happen! Stay tuned for more details on the Drum Class.

Challenge Races Coming Up!


Get ready for the Annual Challenge Series Races! The first of six state-wide races will begin at the end of June in Spokane and finish up in September in Snoqualmie. If you want to volunteer to help at one of the races, know of a responsible student (between 4’8″ to 5’2″ and up to 130 pounds) who would like to learn how to be a driver of the gravity race cars, OR if you know of someone with cognitive or physical disabilities who would enjoy being a co-driver, let us know!

Please contact Abbey White: abbey.white@lifeenrichmentoptions.org for more details or how to register for the races.

June 20th – Spokane
July 11th – Richland
July 18th – Issaquah
August 22nd – Sammamish
August 29th – Oak Harbor
September 19th – Snoqualmie

Thank you for joining us on our Journey!

Over 200 supporters of our organization enjoyed good food, good company, and great singing at our 2013 fundraising luncheon, “It’s About the Journey.” The success of the event can be measured by the more than $90,000 raised to support our work of providing a quality life for those with developmental disabilities, as well as by the many smiles from the touching story of LEO’s history, as told by Rose and Leo Finnegan, and the inspiring performance by the Issaquah Parks and Recreation chorus class for those with special needs.


Master of Ceremonies John Curley kept everyone entertained while also accurately describing the ever growing needs of the special needs community that LEO works so hard to support. The chorus’ touching rendition of the Josh Groban song,   “You Raise Me Up,” as directed by Sue Vigal and Howard McOmber, reflected the appreciation our organization, and those we serve, feel for all of our wonderful supporters.

Our sincere thanks go out to our sponsors and our raffle prize donors for their generous contributions. We would also like to express our heartfelt thank you to everyone who attended, and to those who sent donations to support our mission of building a caring, supportive community for our most vulnerable citizens. With your support, we are now closer than ever to our goal of a fourth adult family home, which will make dreams of independent living come true for five more young adults.