Celebrating 120 Years of Commitment

This summer, we’re celebrating our 120th anniversary! We’re excited to reflect on our rich history and our commitment to serving individuals with developmental disabilities. We have been blessed to support over 9,000 individuals since our doors first opened in 1904, and one story that truly illustrates the AbleLight mission is Paul’s.

Paul’s story

When Paul was 13 years old, he became the sixth resident at AbleLight (formerly called Bethesda) in 1904. His family chose AbleLight for its Christian foundation, knowing we would be able to provide the care and opportunities he needed.

Paul thrived in our community, finding joy and fulfillment in helping others. He assisted residents who were blind, supported others in wheelchairs, and provided companionship to those with limited mobility. His life exemplified our mission to provide security, dignity, and hope for all people with developmental disabilities through Christian love.

Paul lived to be nearly 101 years old in a life full of love, purpose, and support in his home at AbleLight.

He just felt like ‘this is home.’ I think he found his fit… anyone who lives to be over 100 is pretty content and fulfilled in their life.” – Pat and Idona, Paul’s great-nieces

Learn more about Paul’s story and our 120th anniversary below!

AbleLight’s journey

AbleLight was founded in 1904, when concerned Lutherans opened their doors to people with developmental disabilities known as Faith Home. In 1923, the organization adopted the name Bethesda Lutheran, taken from John 5:1-9 and meaning “House of Mercy.”

Through the years, the organization grew in geography and the services it offered. In 2022, the organization changed its name to AbleLight, embodying two crucial and foundational concepts.

“Able” conveys our belief that everyone has infinite value and can and should contribute to our world. “Light” reflects our Christian foundation and symbolizes love, hope, and progress. Together, AbleLight is a name that speaks to an organization that guided by God, illuminating a path for people with disabilities.

While our organization and even our name has changed through the years, our mission and commitment to individuals with developmental disabilities have remained the same. We’re honored to have the opportunity to serve this community, and we’re so excited to see what the future holds!

Get involved!

You’re invited to join in the celebration all summer long! As we reflect on the last 120 years, we want to hear from you. You can share your favorite AbleLight memories or stories with us on our website here.

Our mission can come to life because of our generous supporters. This generosity has made a profound impact in providing safe homes, fulfilling jobs, and so many other opportunities for the people we serve. When you donate before Sept. 1st, you can join a special group of donors recognized in our upcoming impact report – celebrating your commitment to our mission and your role in our history!