This Wednesday Living Well Disability Services employees were invited to the Northland office for Employee Appreciation Day. There were burgers and hot dogs, an adorable ice cream truck and yard games for a little extra fun for all. Last year, two days before the event, due to rising Covid case counts in the metro — we had to cancel. So, we are especially grateful to celebrate our staff together this year. The event was the perfect excuse to get together again. Thankfully the weather cooperated, with only a tiny bit of rain at the end of the day.

At Living Well, we are deeply aware that the staffing shortage is a burden on our current staff, as they do the heavy lifting daily to provide exceptional care. Being responsible for another’s safety, wellbeing and daily routine is an important job. There are schedules to manage, double shifts, and extra coverage needed, appointments to catch up on, day programs that are finally open, food to prepare, smiles to encourage and life to be lived. For Living Well staff, it’s a lot to manage on a good day, add in the challenges of the past two years and it seems nearly impossible.  However, our incredible staff find a way and our gratitude for their resilience continues to grow. We are so grateful for the amazing people who show up day after day to provide care and do so with compassion and commitment to transforming the lives of those they serve.

This work has been the heart of what we do since the day we opened our first home 50 years ago, and even more so today as we navigate a new world during and after Covid. While the challenges have changed over time, one thing remains forever true—direct care staff are essential to Living Well’s mission of transforming the lives of people impacted by disabilities through the delivery of exceptional services.

A hot dog and ice cream cone will never be enough to thank the staff who remain even when things are hard. But what an event like Wednesday’s does is let them know we see, honor, and appreciate their hard work to make our homes special. Working and being supported by Living Well is special. Our employee appreciation party will continue each summer as we gather over a meal and share stories with the people who make our organization shine.

With much appreciation to our entire staff. From the newest employee hired, to the longest person on staff, LuAnn Neumann, who has been on staff 44 years and eight months—we thank you for the hard work today and always.