Bona Vista celebrates 65 years

Sep. 12—It all started with a letter printed in the Kokomo Tribune in 1956.

The letter called on parents of children with disabilities to ban together for more support and resources. Several parents responded.

This is the origin of Bona Vista. Today, the organization services dozens of counties and 1,700 clients.

Bona Vista provides wraparound services for people with disabilities, from birth to end of life.

Staff, clients and community members celebrated the organization's 65th anniversary Monday.

A lot has changed over the past six and a half decades, but at the same time, plenty remains the same.

Bona Vista is still committed to what its clients need, that hasn't changed, according to Brianne Boles, CEO and president.

"I think Bona Vista is a needed, vital service for our community, for some of our most vulnerable populations," she said.

Bona Vista started with adult and pediatric therapies, eventually expanding into First Steps, services for children between the ages of 0 and 3. Employment services were added, too.

"We've evolved and made changes to programs and services based on needs and wants of our clients," Boles.

The CEO said employability skills and housing projects are two ways Bona Vista has adapted since its founding.

Bona Vista has both group homes and supported living sites for clients who need housing. The organization also provides in-home services for clients who live on their own or with their parents.

There are also services that aim to prepare parents who have children with disabilities. Boles said the goal is to "embrace the family and give them the resources they need."

Bona Vista's Crossing location on South Plate Street, where Monday's celebration was held, offers day services. Clients can do a whole host of activities.

"The goal of what we do is provide a meaningful day for who we serve," Boles said.

Self-sufficiency and quality life skills are an emphasis, especially for Bona Vista's adult clients.

Boles added Bona Vista is always on the search for more volunteer and community enrichment activities for their clients, such as its Trunk or Treat event Oct. 12.

Staff at Bona Vista, called direct support professionals, are the organization's "lifeline," according to Boles. Finding staff remains one of Bona Vista's biggest challenges.

Monday was marked with a cookout, cake and appearances from members of the Kokomo Fire Department and State Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo.

"Our goal is to be here 65 years from now," Boles said.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.