“This is not a tough decision. This is basic human needs. Please, help.”
Watch Living Well’s CEO Tom Gillespie’s passionate plea this Tuesday at the State Capitol.
Over the past few months Living Well staff, and representatives from organizations like ours, have been testifying in front of House and Senate Health and Human Services Committees to plead our case for disability services funding. We are doing this because this legislative session is one of the most important to our industry in decades.
To be clear, without proper funding—funding that will cover an appropriate wage for our staff in addition to the expenses required to provide the services we have so proudly provided for over 50 years—group homes across the state of Minnesota will continue to close. Living Well has been fortunate to have kept our homes functioning over the past year and a half, but it has not been easy. We have made difficult decisions along the way, and had a $2M deficit in 2022 due to ever growing cost of living expenses, and the more critical issue of staffing shortages. We are 100 people short of being fully staffed, and it is not sustainable.
Please take a moment to watch this week’s important testimony from CEO, Tom Gillespie, learn about ARRM (our statewide advocacy association who are working on behalf of providers like Living Well) and read about the bills we are relying on to keep people safe and cared for.
Tom and other testifiers are often teed up when testifying by Sara Grafstrom, Director of State & Federal Policy with ARRM. Sara is the expert on the bills and knows the legislation inside and out. She represents ARRM members at the Capitol in both St. Paul and Washington D.C. and is responsible for developing and moving forward ARRM’s legislative agenda as well as monitoring and responding to issues impacting ARRM members. Prior to coming to ARRM, Sara spent two legislative sessions working in the Minnesota House of Representatives as a legislative assistant and prior to that working on various House races as well as a congressional race in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District.
Sara paves the way for the stories we bring. In partnership, we share the narrative of why disability funding matters, and why we all need to stand up and support disability services. Here is a list of the bills with great importance to disability services—SF7 (also known as the “caregiver Stabilization act. This is the broad bill, the individual bills following are piecing out the contents of SF7); SF756 (Living Well testified); HF568 (Living Well testified); HF999; and HF813 (Living Well Testified).
All of us at Living Well look forward to the day when we post primarily about the things that make Living Well stand out and rise above the other providers. Because we do, we are truly transforming lives. But for now, we all work together to do everything we can to get the funding passed, so we can do more than barely scrape by, and return to thriving once again.
The people we serve, who live with disabilities and need our care and kindness 24/7/365, deserve your time and energy. Please help us get the word out that it is time for our elected officials to do their jobs, so we can do ours. As Tom said so passionately about this week’s proposed bill, “This is not a tough decision. This is basic human needs. Please, help.”
A little proof the work matters and we know what we are talking about: As Tom pointed out in his testimony, we were in a snow emergency and knew we would have staff sleeping at the houses because overnight staff were unable to make it in for their shift. With that we want to share a photo of a makeshift bed in an office at one of our homes. Another spent the night in a hotel to be close. Another slept in their office, too … Our staff, and others like them, deserve the funding increases and the professional esteem to match their experience, expertise, and compassion.
Interested in helping to advocate for disability services and help the people we support living with disabilities and the people how care for them?
1) Please join us for a special virtual friends and family advocacy event on Tuesday, February 28, 5-5:45pm on Zoom. RSVP Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will learn the latest updates from the legislative floor from our public affairs partners and in a virtual roundtable hear from a Living Well parent, sibling, and self-advocate about ways you can raise awareness for your loved ones. We know their experiences will help fuel ideas for your own family advocacy as we enter the most important legislative session in recent decades.
Join Tom and featured speakers: Elizabeth Emerson, Vice President of Public Affairs, Goff Public; Sara Grafstrom, Director of State and Federal Policy, ARRM ; Judy Marder, Living Well parent, Board Member, and Better Life Alliance Leader ; Fran McCloskey, Living Well sibling and Board Member ; Peggy Mehan, self advocate and person served since 2001.
2) Mark your calendar for Disabilities Day at the Capitol on March 28, 2022. Email email@example.com to get on the list and sign up to be part of the Living Well groups attending.
3) Consider a donation to Living Well. Over 96% of our funding comes from government sources but the money has not been enough for quite some time. Help us cover the cost of staffing and getting the word out about open positions.