In my 2 months as Interim Executive Director of NER, there have been so many things which have impressed me about this organization; the passionate commitment to the mission, the way home and a sense of belonging is created here, and the dedication to person-centeredness, just to name a few.
However, one of the most impressive aspects of NER is how it was on top of the COVID-19 planning since it first broke out in Minnesota. Consider this timeline:
March 6 - Minnesota has the 1st positive COVID-19 test result.
March 12 - 9 confirmed cases of COVID-19 are in Minnesota.
March 14 - Lin Curran creates and implements NER's 1st COVID-19 Pandemic Plan.
Now that's a quick response!
I'm very pleased to report that this early preparation for COVID-19 continues to pay off. As of the writing of this letter, none of the people supported by NER has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This is a remarkable achievement by a staff who is working hard to provide the safest environment for the people we support.
And, we remain diligent. We are continuing to update our plan to ensure compliance with state regulations, and that we are following best practices to protect the health of the people we support and our staff. You can view our plan here:
Ben has been with us for almost 11 years! He moved into his home with NER on November 1, 2009.
Some of Ben’s favorite pastimes are coloring pictures and cutting them out, reading his Halloween book, or doing anything related to Halloween. It’s his favorite holiday, hands down! He loves to watch movies with his housemates, especially “The Wizard of Oz” and “Beauty and the Beast”. Ben is a real foodie. Trying new foods and sharing favorite foods with friends both make him happy, because he loves to eat. However, his ultimate favorite thing to do is to go on an adventure in the van or car! Whether it is exploring a park, trying a new restaurant or hitting an old favorite, visiting family and friends, or just taking in the sights on a nice long drive, Ben is down for the fun!
His eyes will tell you exactly what his heart is feeling. He may not use typical verbal communication, but he is in no way unable to communicate! His smile will absolutely melt your heart. He is a funny, compassionate and caring friend. He just loves to be around people and be a part of the action. He is welcoming to everyone he meets. Likewise, he finds a place in the heart of anyone lucky enough to spend some time with him.
The ladies at the County Road F house look forward to camp every summer. The possibility that camp might be cancelled due to COVID-19 was difficult news to think about. In anticipation that it did cancel, we decided to make a list of all the things we love about camp. We decided we would work our way through the list at our own Camp County Road F. Having the list and some plans softened the sad news when it was announced that camp was indeed cancelled for this summer. As we check items off our list, we have found that County Road F Camp-at-Home can be very entertaining and educational!
First off, a "Camp County Road F" sign was created. We then purchased a fire ring, and we continue to have fun nights roasting marshmallows and hot dogs. After it warmed up, we dipped our feet and played water games in our pool, had an "eye spy" hike, and tie-dyed T-shirts. We have learned new dances ("The Cupid Shuffle" and "The Chicken Dance"), and we have a book of campfire stories to read. Camp County Road F continues to be a fun adventure, and our list of favorite camp activities continues to grow. We hope to all take a pontoon ride soon, use our water balloons, go to a beach, and have the "traditional?” camp piñata, which is the newest addition to our list!
Bree has been working at NER since December 2017, though he’s been working in the field for 18 years. He is the lead staff at the County Road B2 house, the live-in staff at Hugo A, and he picks up shifts at Virginia.
Bree’s favorite thing about working in the field is that every day is a different day, and you don’t know what to expect. His hobbies include reading romance and adventure, and cosplaying Ichigo Kurosaki (a Soul Reaper dedicated to protecting the innocent and helping tortured spirits find peace) from the anime Bleach. It’s no surprise that the qualities of this character shine through Bree’s everyday life.
Dylan, the Program Supervisor at Hugo A and B, states “The thing that Bree is so great at is that he’s always able to manufacture a positive atmosphere. Even when he’s tired, even when he’s working long hours. It affects everyone around him in a positive way and helps connect people. He takes interest in what the people-supported are interested in. Asks questions, digs deeper in. It really helps them connect more. It affects how well he is able to engage the people. Even people who don’t connect very well with staff get excited when Bree comes to work, because they know he will come and engage in their interests. As a person he’s dynamic, and dynamic in how he provides services. It’s really a special skill that he has.”
Lauren, the Central Community Program Manager, says that Bree’s patience with the people-supported is heartwarming, and his dedication is stellar. Bree has a “can-do” attitude that allows him to tackle anything in stride. “We should touch on his smile. It can literally light up the room”.
Family, friends, and Beyoncé are important to Bree. (In fact, he likes to be called Breeaunce with his friends.)
His favorite memories at NER are the summer luaus. Particularly, getting to see everyone and everyone being together. He believes hard work and dedication are what makes a good staff.