It’s Official: Bethesda is Now AbleLight!

Live celebration concert will feature Grammy winner Michael W. Smith, NASCAR’s David Ragan, and more

Milwaukee – A historic milestone has arrived for an organization with over a century of history itself – Bethesda will officially become AbleLight on Monday, Jan. 10!

The occasion will be celebrated with a livestream concert at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday, Jan. 11, from Charlotte, N.C., featuring legendary Christian artist and Grammy winner Michael W. Smith. Overseeing the festivities as emcee will be NASCAR’s David Ragan, alongside his brother Adam, who has a developmental disability. To reserve a virtual seat, click here.

“For 117 years, Bethesda has led the transformation of vital services for people with disabilities,” said Dave Sneddon, Interim President and CEO. “Today, we’re approaching the future with open arms and bringing new friends into the mission all under a new name – AbleLight. This transition has been years in the making, and a true team effort. It marks the beginning of a new and promising era for people with developmental disabilities across the country, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

The name AbleLight was chosen from among more than 1,000 name choices, and reflects the many skills and abilities of people with disabilities while also demonstrating how the Christian organization will be a guiding light for people with developmental disabilities and their families.  

“We believe the world shines brighter when people with developmental disabilities achieve their full potential,” said Cesar Villalpando, Chairperson of the Bethesda Board of Directors. “As AbleLight, we have a renewed opportunity to serve the more than 7 million Americans who have an intellectual or developmental disability. We are committed to supporting the whole person and continuously improving the world for people with disabilities.”

Five impact areas

Going forward, AbleLight will be focused on five impact areas to enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities:

Safe and Loving Homes: AbleLight continues to provide a variety of housing options to meet every need, including group homes, supported living and host home arrangements. AbleLight will expand the innovative AbleLight Village concept, a first-of-its-kind residential community uniting individuals with disabilities with people of all abilities in a loving, welcoming environment.  

Financial Security: Managing money can be stressful for anyone, but for a person with a disability and their family, it can be daunting. To help, AbleLight’s Financial Services team provides one-on-one consultation and support to help people navigate the complex world of benefits and achieve their financial goals. This includes rep payee services, Medicaid redeterminations, Social Security reporting and ABLE account support and training.

Independence and Wellbeing: AbleLight will make it possible to achieve joy in daily living. As just one example, through its emerging Behavior Supports area, the organization provides individualized treatment plans for people with disabilities and their families to promote positive behavior change. One-on-one support guides the transition from school-based services to independent living, and from adult living skills to on-the-job support. Lastly, AbleLight College recently expanded to Concordia University Ann Arbor in Michigan, building on the successful life and work skills program at Concordia University Wisconsin.

Innovation and Technology: AbleLight will innovate for good, researching and developing new technology to improve all aspects of life for people with disabilities, and will provide customized solutions to meet individual needs. Assistive smart home technology is deployed in a growing number of homes, including AbleLight Village, promoting safety, security and independence.  

Community and Faith: A strong connection to the community is vital to a life well lived. AbleLight will make that connection through day programs, virtual programming, faith connections, and volunteering options that bring people together. AbleLight will continue to offer thrift shops as a connection point with the community and a meaningful source of revenue for needed programs.


About AbleLight

AbleLight is a national leader in pioneering life-changing services that empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to thrive. Founded in 1904 in Wisconsin as a Christian mission, AbleLight promotes independence and inclusion across the U.S. through comprehensive and individualized supports that include housing, employment, spiritual life and much more. For details, go to, like our Facebook page and follow us on LinkedIn.