OPTIONS INC

Premier Services for People with Disabilities

aka OPTIONS   |   Hammond, LA   |  www.options4u.org

Mission

OPTIONS is a local, 501c3 organization that was started by parents looking for community based services for their children with disabilities. OPTIONS mission is to help people with disabilities live and work in the community. For over 45 years, OPTIONS has been improving the lives of hundreds of people with disabilities through maximizing life skills, meaningful work and activities, community inclusion and providing support beyond the family. All of OPTIONS programs are licensed and are in good standing with the Louisiana Department of Health.

Ruling year info

1990

President/CEO

Mrs. Carrie Mercke

Main address

19362 W. Shelton Rd.

Hammond, LA 70401 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

72-1161001

NTEE code info

Developmentally Disabled Services/Centers (P82)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Individuals with disabilities experience systemic barriers that may prevent them from participating in their communities and reaching their full potential. OPTIONS seeks to overcome or remove barriers on systemic, community and individual levels through a combination of advocacy and individual supports. OPTIONS seeks to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to participate fully in their communities by providing individual and family support, health and wellness advocacy, employment supports, community inclusion, and transportation. We also work within our community and with local and state decision-makers to shape policy that supports inclusion.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

OPTIONS Enrichment - Wellness Program

OPTIONS Enrichment – Wellness Program provides engaging, meaningful activities for individuals with disabilities through recreation and involvement in the community. Participants have the opportunity to participate in a variety of enrichment activities Monday – Friday from 8am-3pm including weaving, gardening, bowling, walking-for-fitness, art, line dancing, zumba and volunteer opportunities. This program promotes self-esteem and helps develop social skills. Through involvement, participants build relationships with community members and have the opportunity to explore their unique interests and talents. Confidence, leadership skills, and involvement in community projects, volunteerism, employment, and entrepreneurship are a few of the successes. The impact of the program is evident through the demand for the program from both participants and family members.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

OPTIONS provides people with disabilities with meaningful work opportunities through job placement and supported employment. OPTIONS assists with obtaining competitive jobs in the community through OPTIONS job placement, job coaching, and ongoing supports. Individuals work at businesses such as banks, offices, grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores, and government agencies.

OPTIONS Supported Employment Program helps individuals with disabilities have jobs through OPTIONS . These individuals work on OPTIONS Cleaning Crews, Lawn Maintenance Crew, Learning Gardens, and at Fabulous Finds. In our rural community, jobs can be scarce, especially for people with disabilities. Over 80% of people with disabilities in the U.S. are not employed and this program is just one solution to this problem. OPTIONS seeks opportunities and contracts with area businesses or starts
new businesses to directly employ people with disabilities.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

OPTIONS operates 4 community homes. Each home provides a nurturing and supportive atmosphere for six individuals with disabilities to call home. Two of the homes are for women and two are for men. The homes provide an opportunity for people with complex needs to live with peers in their communities. The locations were chosen in order to maximize access to the community and provide a unique neighborhood experience for residents. Each home is staffed around the clock to ensure the care and safety needs of residents are met.

All 4 community homes have been successfully operating for over 25 years.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

OPTIONS Supported Independent Living program assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live in the community as independently as possible. The philosophy of OPTIONS is to support, assist and meet the needs of each person based on his or her unique needs and goals. OPTIONS offers services that are tailored to each person's individual needs, wants, and skills. Program participants receive assistance with finding housing and negotiating lease terms, navigating home ownership, financial case management, health and wellness coaching and support, medical case management, in home personal care, transportation and any other services needed in order to maintain the highest level of independence for that person.

OPTIONS has been meeting the needs of people with disabilities through its Supported Independent Living Program since 1985.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

OPTIONS Transportation Program is an essential ingredient to the success of all of OPTIONS programs and services. Most of the people we serve do not drive, so transportation is very important. A fleet of 24 vehicles go the distance with routes that span two rural parishes ( counties ) to bring approximately 160 people with disabilities where they need to go averaging 19,000 miles per month. Careful planning and coordination play a huge role in creating the most efficient and safest routes possible. Specialized training includes, but is not limited to, how to handle seizures, behavioral issues, health and safety, CPR/First Aid, and much more. Transportation is more than a way to get from point A to point B, it’s critical to accomplishing the mission of OPTIONS. It is a lifeline for people with disabilities to access employment, education, health care and community life.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

OPTIONS provides individuals with disabilities, who live with their families, with supports that enhance their quality of life and assist their caregivers. Family Support include assistance with activities of daily living, meal preparation, hygiene, light housekeeping, transportation and opportunities to participate in community activities. These services support the family care givers enabling them to maintain their own jobs, care for their other children, and take needed breaks. Participants enjoy the opportunity to pursue interest outside of the family.

OPTIONS has been providing Family Support Services since 1991.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

OPTIONS Weaving Studio was founded by volunteers in 2012. Volunteers and staff enthusiastically worked together to develop the OPTIONS Weaving Studio as a wonderful, fun place for people with disabilities to explore their creativity and artistic skills. Today it is both an employment opportunity and an enrichment activity. Several individuals have started their own businesses in partnerships with OPTIONS Weaving Studio. They work with OPTIONS marketing team to develop their business cards, price tags, and marketing materials. They make rugs, table runners, tablet bags, towels, and many other beautiful items. See OPTIONS Weaving Studio Facebook page for more details.

OPTIONS is proud to offer the cutting edge opportunity to people with disabilities to explore their creativity.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

OPTIONS Learning Gardens was established in January 2020. The purpose of the Learning Gardens is to focus on nurturing the mind, body, and soul of people with disabilities through therapeutic gardening. The Learning Gardens is an inclusive program that allows participants to engage in gardening activities while learning farm to table concepts. Also, The Learning Gardens continues to provide employment for individuals with disabilities. The individuals with disabilities that are employed by The Learning Gardens assist the Learning Gardens Instructor during activities with their peers. The Learning Gardens Program has been a great success in meeting the needs of those with sensory challenges. The environment created promotes an educational and peaceful atmosphere.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

Located in Ponchatoula, OPTIONS Fabulous Finds is a gently used, upscale resale store. People from the community donate clothes and other items and the individuals with disabilities who are employed there sort the donated items, maintain store inventory, and assist customers. The store is open to the public Monday – Saturday. For more information visit OPTIONS Fabulous Finds Facebook page.

OPTIONS has successfully operate the OPTIONS Fabulous Finds since 2012.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

OPTIONS has a team of nurses who oversee the proactive/preventative healthcare needs of people with disabilities. Some of the people we serve are non-verbal and vulnerable. Many cannot communicate clearly when they are in pain or having physical or emotional difficulties. It requires keen observation, excellent training, and extensive knowledge of each individual to recognize a potential problem.

Men and women with disabilities can live well into their seventies and beyond. This means that their existing disabilities are compounded by the disabilities of aging including dementia, heart disease and cancer. We oversee the care of these individuals as their healthcare becomes more complicated by the aging process. By providing our staff, clients, and clients’ families with health and wellness education, training, and support, we enable them to make well-informed decisions about their healthcare.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities, People with intellectual disabilities

Related Program

OPTIONS Enrichment - Wellness Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In the last few years, we have increased our efforts to recruit volunteers from various background to enhance the many programs we offer at OPTIONS.

Average number of dollars received per donor

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities, People with intellectual disabilities

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of overall donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities, People with intellectual disabilities

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Be the Key Society members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with disabilities, People with intellectual disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Founded in 2015, Be the Key Society members are donors who have pledged $1000 per year or more for 5 years.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

To continue as the premier provider of opportunities that enables people with disabilities to be valued, respected, and integral members of the community

To provide people with developmental disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, epilepsy and spina bifida with meaningful daily activities which give them self-esteem and a reason to get up in the morning

To assist people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with health and aging issues

To improve the lives of people with disabilities by providing support beyond the family

To create an environment for persons with disabilities to develop work skills and find and maintain jobs within OPTIONS businesses and in the community

To provide care for individuals in their family home who are unable to care for themselves or their primary caregiver needs assistance

To provide 24/7 support for people with disabilities in their own homes or in one of OPTIONS community homes

OPTIONS has a detailed Quality Enhancement Plan with the help of stakeholders that include: Participants, Families of Participants, Employees, Board of Directors, Donors, funders and business partners . OPTIONS uses a variety of formal and informal methods to obtain input from stakeholders. The priorities of the Quality Enhancement Plan include:
- Expand opportunities for community integration and meaningful activities to enrich the lives of participants.
- Continue to attract and retain highly qualified staff.
- Increase our investment in employees at all levels of the organization through training opportunities, coaching and professional development.
- Increase revenue through fundraising.
- Recruit and retain additional regular volunteers and increase the number of event specific volunteers.
- Maintain employment opportunities for participants through community job placement and support and supporting individual entrepreneurs.
- Increase use of technology in programmatic documentation and administrative departments in order to maximize efficiency in all areas.

Through use the quality enhancement plan, OPTIONS is able to identify barriers and create plans to overcome them. OPTIONS has a demonstrated 45+ year history of improving the lives of people with disabilities in our community. Our on-going commitment to Person-Centered services and community integration makes us responsive to the unique needs of individuals and their families, allowing participants to experience greater continuity by accessing a variety of services in one place.
OPTIONS has a reputation as an organization that has integrity and is committed to doing the right thing and providing quality services, which is demonstrated in the fact that we are respected partners with over 40 local businesses who provide employment/community services for people with disabilities. Excellent financial management is focused on using all available resources to enhance the delivery of services.

We also provide a positive work environment where the input of all team members is valued and respected, leading to innovation and willingness to explore new approaches to service delivery. It also has positive outcomes in the longevity and dedication of employees. Our commitment to including stakeholders in decision making and on-going efforts to increase communication result in positive outcomes in all of our focus areas, including Healthcare, Customer Satisfaction, Compliance, Service Provision, Staff Development & Retention, and Safety of our participants.

OPTIONS has a long and happy history of sustainability: we have been operating since 1973 (originally part of TARC). When our founder and parent to one of our clients, Mary Pirosko, moved to the Hammond community and discovered there were no services available for her son, Stephen, she began to develop community services for people with disabilities. Along with a group of dedicated parents, many of whom are still very involved, Mary helped build OPTIONS into the premier organization that it is today, in turn, positively affecting the lives of thousands of people with disabilities, their families and businesses in the surrounding community. Her involvement continues to play an integral role in the organization today.

OPTIONS has an excellent track record of financial stability as evidenced by its external financial audits and is highly regarded in the disability community and by the state of Louisiana. OPTIONS's external auditor report, Jim White, CPA with Bernard & Franks, continues to report that "OPTIONS has excellent working capital, low administrative costs, and a great fundraising efficiency ratio". Each year White's audit reports that OPTIONS is in compliance with governmental auditing standards. With regards to fundraising, White reports that donors would perceive OPTIONS as a good investment due to its excellent working capital, organizational efficiency and reasonable salaries. OPTIONS is a good steward of the donations, equipment and resources it has.

OPTIONS continues to provide its donors, stakeholders and the community with relevant information about its services and activities. OPTIONS accomplishes this through its website, Facebook, direct mail and events like its Annual Legislative, Business and Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast which it has held annually for over 20 years. OPTIONS is responsive to the needs of the people they serve.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    OPTIONS provides services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The term “developmental disability” refers to any mental and/or physical disability that starts before the age of 18. The term includes individuals with cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy as well as intellectual disabilities.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    During Covid-19, OPTIONS participants have been unable to participate in Day Programs due to statewide closures. To overcome this barrier, OPTIONS created a Virtual Day Program to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    The design of all OPTIONS programs and services are created through feedback from participants, staff and family members.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

OPTIONS INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

OPTIONS INC

Board of directors
as of 03/04/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Paul Titus

Cretin Townsend Homes

Term: 2021 - 2023


Board co-chair

Mrs. Laurie Johnson

K-Team Printing and Marketing

Term: 2021 - 2023

John Poteet

Louisiana's 1st Choice Auto Auction

Matthew Alombro

Louisiana's 1st Choice Auto Auction

Eric Dosch

First Guaranty Bank

Matthew Cotton

Edwards Jones

Patrick Coudrain

Cashe, Coudrain & Bass Attorneys at Law

Paul Titus

Cretin Townsend Homes

John Martinez

Attorney

Laurie Johnson

K-Team Printing

Teresa Landry

Mark Kay

Jay Burchfield

RPC Pest Control

Sarah Mitchell

North Oaks Health System

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/24/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/02/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.