Values and Ideas That Guide Our Work

The following set of ideas and values guide our work at Keystone as we help people live more meaningful lives through finding home, friends, work, and presence in the community.

Self Determination

Effective human services must see the individual and family using services as the ultimate customer, the individual to whom they are most accountable. Services should be responsive to the needs of each individual rather than the needs of the system. All people have the right to direct their future. They have a right to control how they live their lives and where and with whom they live. They have a right to exert influence over the resources that support them, and they should be actively involved in all aspects of planning and delivering services. People have the right to choose their lifestyles and their careers. When people need help, it is friends and family closest to them who assist them in broadening their experience and exercising their right to choose. It is essential that each person have a network of support chosen by him or her. Professionals and staff work for the individual rather than for the system. Families, friends, and staff assist people to create more meaningful relationships, link them with needed supports, remove barriers, develop safety networks and help make dreams come true while never forgetting who is in charge.

Natural Supports

Dignity & Respect

We will use language and words that create an environment of dignity, respect, and valued identities for the people we support and their families. All people have an inherent right to be treated with dignity and to be respected as a whole person. Most of life’s greatest lessons are learned when we make choices that we later realize were mistakes. All people have the right to the dignity of risk.

Inherent Value

All people are inherently valuable regardless of their level of ability or disability.

Foundation of Service

We believe that service from one person to another is a transcendent endeavor that should be based on an individual’s personal experience of a spiritual, religious, philosophical, humanitarian or social justice motive. We believe it is important to live in an environment where all of us have the opportunity to consider the moral and spiritual aspects of our work. We desire that the many people associated with Keystone will experience their work as a calling, and wish to encourage and nurture deep commitments, friendships, non-paid relationships, and life sharing.

Model Coherency

Model coherence involves bringing all elements of service planning, treatment, philosophy, staffing, funding, training, supervision, and professional identity, together into a coherent whole in order to meet the true needs of the person being supported.

Developmental Model

We believe that all individuals grow and develop throughout their lives.

Community Building

Our vision is that of creating an environment where all people, regardless of background and ability, can grow, make choices, and be valued and contributing members of our community. Everyone has the ability to contribute to his or her community in a meaningful way. Giving of ourselves helps us establish a sense of belonging and identity. Community membership includes having an opportunity to be employed, to have your own home, to be truly involved in the routines of the community, and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Community Connectedness

Human service agencies must sustain a deeply rooted connection with the people and communities they serve. This connection is a product of members of the community perceiving ownership and influence within the organization, while at the same time the agency influences and educates the community. This is an essential public policy issue of profound importance necessary to ensure that communities retain a sense of responsibility for the social trends and problems addressed by the organization.

Natural Supports

The use of natural supports is essential to enduring success. Natural supports from family, neighbors, churches, synagogues, and the community define a resource of immense value and create a viable alternative to high cost formal program-based services. These supports are, by definition, volunteer and charitable and, consequently, deeply aligned with the role and identity of community nonprofit. Services should be offered in the least restrictive, most natural setting possible. Individuals should be encouraged to use the available natural supports in the community and should be integrated into the normal living, working, learning, and leisure time activities of the community.


The relationships a person has with others are precious and should be treated in that way. A relationship must be treasured, protected, and nurtured. Those with whom the person has enduring relationships provide the strength, assistance, and security which ensure each person’s well-being.

More Values

Change Agent

We believe that we have a deep obligation to serve as a change agent sharing our experience with others both individually and within the public policy and service delivery processes.


We are deeply committed to decreasing the dependence of people and families on formal services. All that we do should contribute to the strength, independence, community presence, and capacity of each person.

Whatever It Takes

We value an attitude where nothing is impossible as long as it is legal and causes no harm. “No, we can’t” as an answer is replaced by “How can we make this happen?” Making things happen doesn’t always require money. Realizing dreams is about opening up opportunities that do not depend on the limited resources the system has available.

Cultural Competence

Culture determines our world view and provides a general design for living and patterns for interpreting reality that are reflected in our behavior. Therefore, services should be culturally competent and be provided by people who have the skills to recognize, understand, and be responsive to and respectful of the mores, history, race, ethnic origin, values, beliefs, religious practice, customs, language, rituals, and practices characteristic of a particular group of people.

Effective Treatment

When a person or family needs formal services and or treatment, those services and treatments must be effective.

Fiscal Conservatism

We have a great responsibility for the stewardship of the resources in our care and must work diligently to create services that are increasingly effective, accessible and affordable. Fiscal integrity is an essential quality of government supported services. Because of the life & death issues addressed, all constituencies must trust the system and have knowledge of how resources are being used, confident that they are being applied in a manner that serves consumers and the community.

Age and Cultural Appropriateness

Services and supports should reflect what typically occurs within a particular society for valued members of an age comparable to the age of the person being served.

Family Focused

Family members and people receiving services must have a very powerful role in governance, planning, policy, advocacy, and oversight of the system, agencies, and their services. The family is the primary support system for their loved one and services should help the family advocate for themselves. The family participates as a full partner in all stages of the decision-making and treatment planning process including implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.

Social Movement

Never has there been such a great threat to, and opportunity for, people with disabilities and the community movement. Nonprofits that survive and find a role of significant influence in the emerging service system will be in a position to define the fundamental nature of services and supports.

Learn More About Our Activities

We promote social inclusion, build sustainable community-based support systems, and advocate alongside people with disability.