Our History

In the spring of 1970, families and concerned community advocates formed a committee to study the need for residential living facilities for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Their vision and enthusiasm led to the incorporation of SLI. Until that time families with children who had disabilities had to make a choice between keeping adult children at home and institutionalizing them.

The first group home opened at 1216 Fillmore. Twelve men and women from Topeka and surrounding towns moved in.

Maggie Beers chaired the first Festival of Trees. At that time SLI was short $16,000 to balance the budget. That year the Festival raised $16,000!

We expanded our service delivery to include Independent Living. Many persons served had gained the skills to live in a less restrictive environment. Sheltered Living counselors helped Independent Living clients learn how to budget for food and grocery shopping, how to use the bus system, money management and other skills.

As new people came into our services and existing persons served asked to move to smaller homes, we began to offer Semi-Independent Living opportunities in small apartments. Staff lived on-site and were able to help with daily living skills and transportation.

We opened our first Assisted Living apartments at Brookfield and Villa West. This was the first time in Topeka an agency provided services for individuals with severe and multiple disabilities. The developers for each complex worked with us to design the living spaces to meet the needs of our persons served. At each complex, two apartments were linked together and it was the first time we employed awake staff overnight. SLI built three additional group homes to meet the expanding need for services, as well as continued opening of

We built 3 additional group homes to meet the expanding need for services and continued to open apartments. State institutions were downsizing and the Topeka State Hospital closed.

The staff outgrew the basement office of our group home on 36th Street and the Board of Directors purchased the Cattlemen’s Association building on Fillmore Street. Since 1972 we had provided only residential programs and all of our persons served either worked or received day services from other agencies. In ’92 some of our clients had no day service programs to attend and we opened our first program in the basement where the former office had been.

We purchased and remodeled the church across the street from the main office, opening the Maggie Beers Training Center for persons served who needed an alternative day program.

We earned our 4th Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) award. CARF is an international organization. This accreditation outcome represents the highest level of accreditation that can be awarded to an organization and demonstrates the organization’s substantial conformance to the standards established by CARF. An organization receiving a Three Year Accreditation outcome has put itself through a rigorous peer review process and has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during on an on-site visit that its programs and services are of the highest quality, measurable, and accountable.  CARF is an independent not-for profit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process that centers on enhancing the lives of the persons served. Founded in 1996 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, now known as CARF, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services.

We purchased a home on 31st Street that has living areas on both the main and lower levels. Five young men moved in at the end of July.

We provided Community Living (residential services) for 158 men and women. Thirty nine clients attend the Day program. Five case managers work with 126 families. In total, we provide services for 229 men, women and children in the three services delivery areas and employ 170 staff. We earned our 5th Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) award.

In order to consolidate and also provide better services to many of our clients, we acquired 3 brand new side-by-side homes built for our persons served. 

We celebrated our 40th Anniversary of providing services in Topeka. Since the early days, Sheltered Living, Inc. has always been on the leading edge of services for individuals with intellectual disabilities. We began the Sheltered Living Legacy Campaign in 2011 to continue to be in the forefront of service delivery. Upon successful completion of the campaign, the day program, case management services, residential and administrative personnel will be headquartered in one location at 3401 SW Harrison.

In 2012, SLI was honored to receive another three-year accreditation from CARF. Once again, SLI put itself through a rigorous peer review process and has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit that its programs and services are of the highest quality, measurable, and accountable. SLI was awarded the highest accreditation.

A long term goal of SLI has been to improve the environment for our Adult Life Skills program while at the same time consolidating office staff into one functional location. On November 11th, 2013, that goal was achieved as SLI opened the new service center at 3401 SW Harrison as a part of the organization’s Legacy Campaign. At 8:26 am, the first person served entered the facility and that moment began the next 40 years of services and supports by SLI for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

With the new service center this brought more opportunities for SLI clients.  The Community Integration Program (day services) added more opportunities for individual interest and supporting individual growth.  With a grant received for the Supported Employment Program we were able to add a cleaning, car detailing and landscaping crew for clients to build skills and find a job in the community.  A keyless access control entry system for the front door of our 19 homes was made possible through grant dollars received from Capitol Federal Foundation and Lewis H. Humphreys Charitable Trust.        

After much discussion and input from community members, board, staff and clients, Sheltered Living, Inc. changed to SLI.  The name change occurred in order to reduce confusion about the type of services provided and because the word “sheltered” is not indicative of the mission of SLI.  SLI was awarded another three-year accreditation by CARF International (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities).  This is an in-depth peer review and SLI demonstrated the highest level of quality services and programs, and strong commitment and adherence to business and governance standards.  Festival of Trees added its first ladies night, “Tinsel & Treasures” and it was an overwhelming success that brought in significant additional fundraising dollars.  The Employee Services and Supports Director received the SHRM-CP (Society of Human Resource Management-Certified Professional) certification.  SLI’s supported employment program acquired its first contract with an outside business for janitorial services.  All 19 SLI homes had computers installed to increase communication and use of technology.  SLI added $20,000 worth of fire systems to eight homes.  Encryption software was purchased and added.  
One of the restroom doors in the reception area at 3401 SW Harrison was made accessible.  SLI increased use of social media significantly.  The Washburn University baseball team volunteered at the annual SLI softball cookout and the annual SLI fall festival.  A Washburn University student completed a practicum with the CEO and developed a legislative advocacy plan for SLI.  A Washburn student began a marketing internship that will continue into 2016.  Capital Federal employees volunteered to do landscaping at 3401 SW Harrison.  Advisors Excel, MARS, Prairie Band Casino, Target & Westar employees volunteered to do painting at five homes.  Westar donated a van to be utilized by the maintenance department. 

2016                                                                                                                                                                                    SLI celebrated 45 years of service in Topeka and was honored by Larry Wolgast, Mayor of Topeka, declaring the month of May as SLI Month. An Open house celebration and ribbon cutting was held on the third of May to celebrate with the community, donors, and SLI families. Over the 45 years SLI has gone from serving 12 people to serving 131 people in 21 homes, a community integration program serving 40 people, a job training and supported employment program serving 16 people and targeted case management serving more than 212 people. Six clients shared their stories as a part of the video production "Because of SLI I..." that aired on WIBW-TV for several months. Pathway For Hope was initiated thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. This funding is managed by the SLI foundation, and provides support to people with intellectual disabilities with a priority to SLI clients. Capitol Federal Foundation and Lewis Humphreys Charitable Trust helped fund the keyless entry systems in all 21 SLI homes. This new system ensures the efficiency and safety for both clients and staff; but most importantly the new system provides our clients living in the homes more independence and a greater sense of control as well as pride. SLI also received a $233,363 grant from the FHL Bank of Topeka to support the renovations of the Shenandoah homes where 30 SLI clients reside. Burlington Northern Santa Fe volunteers provided landscaping, painting and minor repairs on three SLI homes. SLI initiated a peer-to-peer socialization with SLI clients and RoadRunners players.