Last year was great, but just like everyone else, all of us at Living Well Disability Services are excited about what the new year will bring. There are adventures to be had, parties to be thrown and partnerships to build and grow. While we don’t have a crystal ball, we do have a few things already in the works to help ensure the people we serve, our staff, and our supporters alike, will have fun in the new year. Access to opportunities to get out into community to show the world that disability services are worthy of inclusion and support are important to us. Here is what we have planned so far:
January: Up first is a road trip through Grand Marais up the Gunflint Trail to YMCA Camp Menogyn. This week from January 4-7 a small but mighty group of Living Well staff, people served, and volunteers, will make the five-hour drive for our annual partnership with Wilderness Inquiry for a four-day dog sledding trip—this year without the dogsledding. While there is no snow, there is 12 inches of ice and ample opportunity to get fresh air and activity packed into a January adventure. Stay tuned to next week’s blog to learn all about it.
February: Advocacy is the theme for the month. As we ramp up to Day at the Capitol many house visits take place, allowing the people who live and work at our homes to meet elected officials and tell them about the importance of disability services. Living Well staff also visit the capitol building for meetings with various groups of legislators and senators to tell them what our industry needs to be successful.
March: On March 19, we invite all Living Well advocates to show up for Disability Services Day at the Capitol. We will gather in the rotunda for a rally about why disability services are a critical part of society, then break into small groups to meet with individual lawmakers. They say the Capitol is our once-a-year opportunity to advocate as part of a large collective of providers. When we tell our stories within the walls of the Capitol, we feel heard and seen, and we can gather needed momentum to help our messaging rise to the top. Please email Cheryl.edwall@livingwell to get on the list and sign up to join us. We will provide talking points and best practices for meeting with your legislators. You can also email your reps in advance, find yours here ADD LINK.
April: National Volunteer Week, April 21-27. During this week we celebrate and heap gratitude on the volunteers we cherish. With over 900 volunteers supporting our mission 2023, we would be remis to ignore their steadfast commitment to helping us move our mission forward. For volunteer information contact Kathy.Anderson@livingwell.org.
May: Each May we gather for a Staff Appreciation Party at our Northland office in Mendota Heights. There will be food and fun for staff to share with their families, and the people they support. It would take more than a BBQ to adequately thank everyone who dedicates their careers to making a difference in the lives of others, but at the root community is key and gathering with other like-minded caring humans is good for the soul.
June: Family Fun Day is the highlight of the year for many of the people who love Living Well. On this special day we invite the people we support along with their families and guardians to spend a few hours at Como Park. We play games, share stories and memories, break bread together, and listen to music from Tony Redmond, AKA Elvis.
July: The ARRM Forward Annual Conference is the largest educational event focused on front-line support staff and middle management development in Minnesota, drawing more than 700 DSPs, site supervisors, program managers, program directors, executives and more. Last year we had three ARRM Cares Award finalists recognized from the stage, here’s hoping we have a few DSPs up there this year, too!
September: Every year in September we celebrate the incredible work our DSPs do during Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week, always held in early September. This is a national celebration and is a great way to highlight the care professionals who help Living Well meet our mission. The tireless and continued support of people living with disabilities is essential beyond measure and without our staff’s dedication we would not be able to exceed the needs of the people who rely on us for services and care beyond the basics.
September 20, 2024, is also a BIG day for us this year. Mark your calendar and join us for our 2024 Gala, once again at The Depot. Our Gala is a beautiful celebration of the work we do, and we marvel every year as our donors, advocates and people served come together to show the community that people with disabilities and their families are worthy of support and inclusion. Contact Jamee.Yung@livingwell.org to learn about sponsor opportunities, Heather.Heier@livingwell.org to inquire about event details, and Jessica.Maurer@livingwell.org with auction item donations.
October: In October we gather our long-term staff and celebrate work milestones. Our Employee Recognition Event is a special time to honor the beautiful humans who show up year after year, and in many cases, decade after decade, to help others live rich and full lives. There are raffle prizes, and everyone who has worked at Living Well for five or more years is invited to attend. If you have gift cards or donations you would like to donate to this event, with 100% of the donations going to staff, contact Anh.Phan@livingwell.org.
November: Gratitude Month is the month to celebrate everyone who makes Living Well shine. During November we will share our gratitude for our incredible Volunteers, Donors, Partners, and Self-Advocates.
December: Every December we host a Giving Tree in our reception area and our houses throughout the community host a variety of celebrations. The Giving Tree is a delightful way to support the people we serve as it provides people without family with presents and gives volunteers and donors the chance to provide smiles during the holidays.
… and these are just the things we have planned! We look forward to another great year of community events, concerts, dinners out, neighborhood gatherings and so much more. 2024 is going to be great!
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