The Broken Arrow-based Gatesway Foundation is celebrating 50 years of service to individuals with intellectual disabilities with an array of events, beginning with the introduction of a new visual image.
To mark its semi-centennial year, CEO Judi Myers said Gatesway asked More Branding + Communication of Tulsa to develop a new logo and corporate identity line.
Justin Johnson, principal with the firm, said the visual it created features not one but two elements reflecting the mission of the agency and its ultimate goal.
“The letter ‘G’ is a symbol Gatesway has used in various forms over the years,” Johnson said. “We wanted to keep some of that brand equity intact but make it more iconic and enrich it with a layer of meaning that communicates what the agency does.”
To meet that goal, Gatesway’s new ‘G’ is formed by a series of progressions that continuously get stronger until the final one, fully developed, depicts a human figure ready to take flight.
“This is Gatesway helping people with intellectual disabilities spread their wings and achieve things they or their families never thought were possible,” Johnson said. “It’s what this organization is all about. Over and over again, the employees we interviewed told us the proudest moment of their professional life comes when a client is able to break away from them and live an independent, fulfilling, productive life.”
Johnson said a new corporate theme line, “Opening Up The World,” was conceived to support its new logo and reinforce the agency’s mission.
Also on the 50th anniversary calendar are revisions to its annual charity golf tournament, the event for which it is best known – the Gatesway Balloon Festival – and a new gala where the organization’s will unveil a hall of fame.
Myers noted that when the agency first opened its doors in 1963, about the only option a family had was to institutionalize a challenged loved one. “There was simply no place for people with developmental disabilities in our society,” she said.
That scenario began to change the day Helen Gates was told her son, Ronnie, who was born with Down syndrome, would have to leave the state-supported school he was in and be placed in a geriatric nursing home. “He was 21 years old. What kind of life could he have in an environment like that?” she often asked friends and associates.
“We do things the Gates way,” quickly became a rally cry that has enabled the agency and its employees to touch the lives of more than 1,000 individuals and their families and, in the process, help write hundreds of success stories, Myers said. The array of services it now offers includes community residential facilities, group homes and intermediate care facilities, and vocational programs ranging from an on-campus vocational training operation to work crews and independent community employment opportunities. Health care delivery is also part of the agency’s operational mix.
Approximately 400 employees meet the needs of a like number of clients on a 24/7 basis every day of the year. Its annual operating budget tops $16 million.
“Fifty years ago, we were viewed by many as a brash newcomer pioneering a set of revolutionary concepts and approaches,” Myers said. “Because of the success we have enjoyed, it’s amazing how many of those concepts and approaches are now accepted as industry standards.”
Without question, the world in which this agency operates has changed dramatically over the past half-century. And while Gatesway continues to change to meet today’s needs, Myers emphasizes one fundamental aspect remains the same as the day 50 years ago when Helen Gates first opened its doors in a rented house in Tulsa.
“Then as now, our goal is to do everything in our power to help the people we serve acquire the living skills, vocational skills, and social skills necessary to become vital parts of their community,” she said. “We don’t always succeed that that doesn’t mean we don’t always try. We want to open up the world for them,” she said.
Editors: For more information, please contact Judi Myers or Joe Williams at Gatesway, 918-258-3900