Michael Weinandt Plans to Retire from Great River Homes, Inc. after 42 Years

Michael Weinandt of Wabasha has announced his retirement after 42 years of employment as Administrator of Great River Homes, Inc.

Great River Homes, Inc. is a private non-profit organization established by a group of local citizens to develop and operate community-based residential alternatives to institutional placement for persons with disabilities in Wabasha County.

Great River Homes, Inc. established the first residential program in Wabasha County in 1976. Great River Homes, Inc. started with six employees, serving eight people in one home with a budget of $64,000. Today, Great River Homes, Inc. has seventy-six employees providing services to seventy people and has a budget of $3.2 million. The growth has been in response to community needs.

“It was very exciting to start providing services in 1976 because of the need to deinstitutionalize and because there were elderly parents who had adult children living with them and they were concerned about their future,” said Weinandt.

Sheryl and Michael Weinandt started working for Great River Homes, Inc. on August 2, 1976 and have both worked for the non-profit ever since. Sheryl has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Michael had a teaching degree and was a licensed nursing home administrator. Michael’s career began by providing direct service on a part time basis while in college in Worthington, MN in 1971.

After graduation from college they saw an ad for the job in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and thought the opportunity to work together and develop services was an opportunity just right for them with their backgrounds. They were sold on the job when they encountered the genuine compassion of the board members during the interview.

Sheryl and Michael began their careers with Great River Homes, Inc. as live-in staff, which gave them a great opportunity to know and meet the needs of the eight people they lived with. Michael said, “It was more of a lifestyle than a job. We thoroughly enjoyed the people and enriching their lives with new and fun experiences. Sheryl has been phenomenal in her dual role of direct service and nursing. It has been a great journey we have shared together. The opportunities for people with disabilities are so much greater now than in the past.”

Their fondest memories are of the people. The people receiving services, family members, employees, volunteers, board members and the community. “We have been surrounded by caring and supportive people. It truly has been a privilege and honor to have this career. I have always believed the reward of working for Great River Homes, Inc. is working for Great River Homes, Inc.,” said Weinandt.

Michael is quick to point out the success of Great River Homes, Inc. during the past 42 years is the result of quality services provided by dedicated employees and support from families and the community.

The immediate plans for Michael are to help train the new Executive Director who will start work on October 1, 2018. Retirement plans include more time together as a couple, more time with their three children, their spouses and eight grandchildren. They plan to continue to make a difference in the lives of others as parents, grandparents and volunteers. Although Sheryl has not set a definite date for her official retirement.