Cari McCann began employment as Executive Director of Great River Homes, Inc. on October 1, 2018. Cari replaces Michael Weinandt who is retiring after 42 years as Administrator of Great River Homes, Inc.
Cari has a teaching degree and 17 years of experience with Home and Community Options in Winona, MN. Cari was most recently Director of Human Resources for Home and Community Options. Cari lives in Wabasha with her husband and three children.
Cari’s office is in the Central Office of Great River Homes, Inc. at 611 Broadway Avenue in Wabasha. Cari invites employees, family members and the community to stop by to meet one another. Cari looks forward to knowing everyone associated with Great River Homes, Inc. and continuing the tradition of quality person-centered services.
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.
Great River Homes, Inc. held a Pizza Party celebration with people receiving services and their families, employees and their families and board members and their families on September 13, 2018.
The celebration was in conjunction with National Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week held the week of September 9-15, 2018. The Pizza Party was held at Round Hill in Arkansaw, WI and featured brick oven pizza with more than 100 people in attendance.
Great River Homes, Inc. recognized the sixty-five employees who provide direct support to seventy children and adults. “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,” said Michael Weinandt, Administrator.
“Great River Homes, Inc. would not exist without caring and compassionate employees. Direct support is one of the most challenging and rewarding occupations. A special thank you is extended to our employees and their families for the sacrifices you make to be there to provide essential support. Your work is appreciated this week and every week of the year,” said Michael Weinandt, Administrator.
Dan Schaefer, a board member of Great River Homes, Inc. took the opportunity to recognize the importance of the trust and respect between direct support staff and individuals. Dan also said, “We need to keep telling the story of Great River Homes, Inc. to increase public awareness, understanding and support”.
Employees of Great River Homes, Inc. receive special recognition after five years of employment and every five years thereafter. Longevity of employment is valued because of the experience and accumulated knowledge. The 2018 milestone employees of Great River Homes, Inc. are: Shelly Kopp (5 years), Susan Hermann (10 years), Tom Grable (15 years), Kim Pyle (15 years), Jim Newman (30 years) and Mitzi Ryan (35 years).
Round Hill donated the brick oven pizza. Tim Kriese of Lake City provided musical entertainment at no charge. Kwik Trip donated bottled water.
Great River Homes, Inc. is a non-profit organization with a mission of improving the lives of people with disabilities in Wabasha County by providing person-centered services.
Great River Homes, Inc. Recognized Peggy Slawson, In-Home Support Service Coordinator for her outstanding job performance at the Association of Residential Resources in Minnesota Conference in Prior Lake, Minnesota
When Peggy Slawson started providing In-Home Support Services in 2014 there was a concern if she would have enough hours to make her a full-time team member. She quickly had as many hours as she wanted to work because of her outstanding job performance.
At each person’s support team meeting, the question is always asked of them, “do you want to continue receiving services from Peggy or would you prefer to have someone else?” The answer is always the same, they all want services from Peggy!
Peggy provides direct support to ten individuals varying in age from 8-61. Peggy is always positive and has a great ability for ensuring person-centered services with full community inclusion.
Some days can be challenging as a Direct Support Professional. Not only does Peggy work well with the individuals, but also with their families. She handles difficult situations calmly and professionally. She is a problem solver and truly wants the best outcome for the individuals.
Peggy’s schedule changes daily to meet the needs of the people she supports. Peggy has a passion for her job and she makes sacrifices for the individuals so they can live life to the fullest.
In a profession where we sometimes have challenging situations e.g. staff shortages, changing schedules, regulations, and funding issues. Peggy overcomes the challenges and is outstanding because of her positive attitude and person-centered thinking!
Peggy Slawson of Plainview is pictured above with an ARRM Cares Award she received for her outstanding direct support of people with disabilities as an employee of Great River Homes, Inc.
Get to Know Darcy Soine
Darcy has lived in Lake City, MN all of her life. She went to school at Lincoln High School and began working after graduation. Darcy chose to live independently in her own apartment in Lake City soon after beginning to work. Darcy was encouraged by her family to have choice and control over her life. She was supported in her decisions to work and live independently by her family, support staff of Great River Homes, Inc. and staff at her worksite in Red Wing. Everyone uses supports to make decisions and individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities need supports to make choices in their lives just like everyone else.
Darcy and the people who support her help her make both large and small decisions about her life. Darcy chose to take care of her health by learning about her conditions and the medications that help her manage her health. This was a large decision for Darcy who now is able to package her daily medications and take them in the correct doses at the correct time. Darcy also discovered that she enjoys giving back to her community by sharing her time and talents with the residents of the Lake City Care Center. Darcy states that the people there make me so happy. She feels valued and accepted there. Darcy’s family and support providers supported and encouraged her decision to try volunteering and she loves it!
Like everyone, Darcy has not always made the best decisions for herself, but each time has learned from those mistakes. Her family and support providers respect Darcy’s right to make decisions for herself even if they don’t always agree with them. Darcy is empowered to live the life she chooses for herself by making informed choices and decisions.
King Michael Loesel and Queen Catherine Rice
Great River Homes 2018 Spring Formal was well attended and enjoyed by all.
Chuck Elias had a special birthday on February 17, 2018. It was not only special because it was his 30th birthday. It was also special because Patrol Officer Paul Kruger, of the Wabasha Police Department stopped by to wish Chuck Happy Birthday.
Chuck has a brain injury he sustained from a car accident when he was 13 years old. Chuck receives residential services from Great River Homes, Inc. in Wabasha, MN. Chuck is unable to communicate with words, but is able to express his feelings with facial expressions and in other ways.
Chuck enjoys watching COPS on television. Bridget DeFrang, Program Supervisor thought Chuck would like to have a real “cop” visit him on his birthday. Bridget called Police Chief Joe Stark and asked if a police officer could stop by Chuck’s home on his birthday. Patrol Officer Paul Kruger responded. Paul was in his full uniform and showed Chuck his police car with the flashing lights on. Chuck was grinning ear-to-ear and very excited throughout the visit.
Paul Kruger and Joe Stark of the Wabasha Police Department are to be commended for making Chuck’s birthday special and understanding how important it is to serve our community with compassion.
March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. This years theme is “See Me for Me” which means looking beyond someone’s disability and seeing the person. Officer Paul Kruger did look beyond Chuck’s disability when he made a personal connection with Chuck on his birthday.
Chuck Elias is pictured above with Officer Paul Kruger of the Wabasha Police Department on Chuck’s birthday. Paul Kruger took time out of his busy schedule and gave Chuck the gift of his time, the best gift of all.
The Twenty-Seventh Annual Great River Homes, Inc. Benefit Golf Tournament and Dinner held on Friday, June 8, 2018 at The Jewel in Lake City, Minnesota was a success as a fundraiser to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
The golf tournament activities included: a nine-hole best shot foursome tournament, golf contests, fundraising raffles, a live auction, and dinner provided by The Jewel.
Great River Homes, Inc. had the annual fundraising event for the benefit of people receiving services from the agency. Great River Homes, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides residential and in-home support services to 66 children and adults with disabilities in Wabasha County from 2–83 years of age.
“The golf tournament was a great success in terms of increasing public awareness, raising funds, and having fun in the process”, said Michael Weinandt, Administrator of Great River Homes, Inc. “We had 80 golfers and a very generous response from area businesses, organizations, and individuals.”
Volunteers and employees of Great River Homes, Inc. conducted the golf tournament with the help of Travis Heitman, Event Manager at The Jewel in Lake City. The Jewel served a ribs and chicken dinner. The golf course conditions were excellent and enjoyed by everyone. The weather was perfect. Thanks to the volunteer efforts of everyone, the proceeds will directly benefit people receiving services from Great River Homes, Inc.. Gifts were solicited by members of the Board of Directors of Great River Homes, Inc. and Great River Homes, Inc. staff.
A highlight of the event was Jesse Litscher sharing his life story. Jesse receives services from Great River Homes, Inc. Jesse grew up in the Fountain City WI. Area He graduated from Cochrane-Fountain City High School. During this past year, Jesse moved to Wabasha, participated in the Grumpy Plunge to raise money for the Rotary Club of Wabasha and Great River Homes Inc., lobbied at the Capitol in St Paul as a self- advocate and was hired at the Eagles Nest coffee house in Wabasha.
Special thanks to the co-sponsors of the tournament: All Creatures Veterinary Clinic, Ameriprise Financial-Dennis Bussian, CFP, ChFC, Bluff Country School Bus Service, Norm and Kathy Bussian, California Overland, Christensen Group Insurance, Fiesta Foods, Hartert’s Store, Inc./Hartert’s Building Solutions, Interstate Building Supply, Kennedy Snyder Drug, Lake City Federal Bank, Lakeshore Agency, Paul Busch Auto Center, Riverboat Lanes, Rotary Club of Wabasha, Scheel’s Super Valu, Schoen Family Dentistry, Springer Appraisals, Swan Jewelers, Wabasha Dentistry, Wabasha Discount Market and Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe.
Great River Homes, Inc. acknowledges with sincere gratitude the following businesses, organizations, and individuals from the area for their donations to the Great River Homes, Inc. Benefit Golf Tournament:
Abbott Funeral Home, Ackermann Total Eye Care, Ag Partners Coop, AmericInn of Lake City, AmericInn of Wabasha, Bank of Zumbrota, Ed and Pam Bauman, Bennett’s Food Center, Bennett & Sons Sand & Gravel, Bruce and Liz Carlstrom, Dairy Queen of Lake City, Danckwart Landscaping, Family Farms, Edward Jones Investments John and Steve Lang, Foresight Bank, Gallagher Benefit Services, Kathy Geraghty, Sandy Gerken, John and Darlene Gilcreast, Great River Homes Central Office Staff, Leigh and Joni Hartert, Richard and Ruth Hartert, Hills Hardware, Huettl’s Meats, Jerry Arens State Farm Insurance, J & J Barbecue, John Falvey State Farm Insurance, Kevin Passe Family, Kwik Trip, Lake City Golf Club, Lake City Graphic and Shopper, Lake City Lions Club, Lake Pepin Floral and Gift, Lake Pepin Golf Course, LARK Toys, Mahn Family Funeral Homes, Mall of America, Metro Sales, Minnesota Lynx, Minnesota Twins, Mount Frontenac Golf Course, Mutual of America, National Eagle Center, John and Sheila Nelson Family, On the River Boutique, Passe Electric, Troy Passe, Paul Flicek Insurance, Peoples State Bank, Perry Dental, Tom and Pat Peyla, Piper Hills Golf Course, Saint Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Schleicher Funeral Homes & Cremation Services, Schwalbe Construction, Silver Star Saloon, Slippery’s Bar and Restaurant, Chuck and Mary Kay Springer, St. Paul Saints Baseball Club, Steve Gentry Construction, The Bluffs at Coffee Mill Golf Course, The Jewel Golf Club, The Olde Triangle Pub, Tom Heffernan Ford, Turning Waters Bed, Breakfast & Brewery, Diana Turner, Treats & Treasures, Villa Bellezza, VFW Post 4086,W.A.K. Construction, Wabasha Rubbish Removal, Wabasha Warehouse Liquors, and Wild Wings.
Great River Homes, Inc. extends its thanks to everyone for their support to benefit people with disabilities in Wabasha County.
The Twenty-Seventh Annual Great River Homes, Inc. Benefit Golf Tournament and Dinner was held at The Jewel in Lake City on June 8, 2018. Shown above are the 80 golfers who participated in the fundraiser.