Author: Megan Kuneli

Bark’s Bytes #43 | Sameness

Published November 9, 2021

In the wee hours of 6/26/21, without following parliamentary procedures and with no public testimony, language creating a taskforce to eliminate the 14(c) special minimum wage option in Minnesota by August 2025 was included in an omnibus bill later signed by the Governor. While the how and why that happened may be a topic for a future editorial, right now 6,000 people with disabilities and their families need to understand the consequence of this legislation.

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Bark’s Bytes #42 | Being BOLD

Published September 27, 2021

In mid-March of 2020 our services were shutdown by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Human Services (DHS) as part of Governor Walz’s peacetime emergency plan to mitigate the transmission of the Covid-19 virus. Despite the best efforts of families and residential providers, we quickly understood how detrimental it was to the mental, physical, and emotional health of clients to be isolated at home 24 hours a day with no end in sight. In mid-June we were permitted to begin serving a limited number of clients and felt compelled to serve as many as possible within the DHS restrictions.

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DSPs Recognized by Vadnais Heights City Council

Published September 12, 2021

On Tuesday, September 7, 2020, Vadnais Heights Mayor Heidi Gunderson and the Vadnais Heights City Council proclaimed the week of September 12-18, 2021, as Direct Support Professional Recognition Week.

We’re so pleased that the City of Vadnais Heights recognizes the importance of these amazing individuals who are the heart and soul of what we do at Merrick, Inc. Without Direct Support Professionals, our mission to empower adults with disabilities through employment support and life enrichment services would not be possible, and they don’t often get the recognition they deserve.

View City of Vadnais Heights Proclamation

Merrick DSPs at Vadnais Heights City Council
Left to right: Vadnais Heights Mayor Heidi Gunderson and DSPs Shelly Newcomb, Maolanie Thao, Brady Mallek, and Joanne Valenzuela.

2021 Summer Social Picture Gallery

Posted August 12, 2021

Donor Wall
Melissa and staff
John and baby
BOT President Crystal
John and Jim
Dollie and Travis
Tricia and Dorie
Old Friends
Andy, Emerson, and Laura
Terry and Stephanie
Alex and family
Corby and Ginny
Brian and family
Jim and Kristina
Sarah and David

MN Peacetime Emergency Lifted

Published July 9, 2021

The MN peacetime emergency has been lifted effective 7/2/21 and temporary modifications by the Department of Human Services have ended. Merrick, Inc., has resumed typical operations.

Vikings Leave Lasting Legacy

Published June 30, 2021

  • Female client playing games on a tablet
  • Staff entering client activity on tablet
  • Male client playing games on tablet

Because Merrick, Inc., is a non-profit, our funding is limited. The average cost per client for services provided is $80 per day and the government reimbursement is about $75 per day creating a $5 daily gap per client. With approximately 375 clients enrolled, and 252 days of service in a year, this leaves an annual shortage of approximately $472,500. Over the past 10 years, the Minnesota Vikings have donated their gently used tablets, laptops, desktop computers and other miscellaneous technology to our program. This equipment, if purchased new, would have cost at least $150,000 and difficult to include in our already stretched budget. Because we do not have that expense, we are able to focus more of our funding on providing excellent services to the clients we serve.

The tablets are used to assist people who cannot use their physical body and engage their minds in meaningful activities each day. They are also used for education, including helping clients learn to read, write, and for communication of important wants and needs for those who cannot speak to the people around them.

Our program was closed for three months during the Covid-19 pandemic and clients could not attend in person so we provided remote services via Zoom. This service was critical in keeping people connected and engaged during a very difficult period. We were able to bring tablets to the homes of clients who could not afford them so they could stay connected to the community and still receive the meaningful services that they needed and desired.

One very important aspect of our program is employment support and it is essential that every person in our program be paid fairly for the work they complete. Thanks to the Vikings, our employees have the needed technology to log client work and training activities in real time which makes it more compliant with Department of Labor standards.

All of our employees and clients have access to the internet via laptops or desktops which are in nearly every office and workspace throughout the building. We are also able to offer laptops to our managers for better access in our building and when they are away from their office.

A personal connection to the MN Vikings organization is welcomed by our employees and especially our clients. Merrick has received many items including signed jerseys and footballs to use as prizes in our fundraising events, silent auctions, and raffles. Pre-Covid-19, clients were invited to the annual Punt, Pass and Kick contest and also to watch a practice, take a tour of Winter Park, and meet the players. This experience has left a permanent glow in the hearts of those who attended.

It is our practice to recognize and thank our supporters and we have a donor wall in the foyer of our building. The Vikings tile is displayed there as a reminder of how grateful we are for their generosity through the years. We extend our continued thanks to the Minnesota Vikings organization, and to Todd Hauck, IT Specialist for coordinating this effort.

  • TIle
  • Viking Practice
  • Computer Center

2021 Charity Golf Scramble Picture Gallery

Posted June 1, 2021

01A   Lake Area Bank 1
01A   Lake Area Bank 1 w/clients
01B   Lake Area Bank 2
01B   Lake Area Bank 2 w/clients
02A   Steen
02A   Steen w/clients
02B   Greenbaum
02B   Greenbaum w/clients
03A   Weber/Jacobson
03A   Weber/Jacobson w/clients
03B   Murphy 1
03B   Murphy 1 w/clients
04A   Murphy 2
04A   Murphy 2 w/clients
04B   Murphy/Northview Dental w/clients
05A   Warners' Stellian
05A   Warners' Stellian w/clients
05B   TCM
05B   TCM w/clients
06A   Gangl
06A   Gangl w/clients
06B   Clapper/Hallgren
06B   Clapper/Hallgren w/clients
07A   Hough/Marzitelli
07A   Hough/Marzitelli w/clients
07B   Versatile Vehicles
07B   Versatile Vehicles w/clients
08A   Austad
08A   Austad w/clients
08B   Total Mechanical
08B   Total Mechanical w/clients
09A   Maguire
09A   Maguire w/clients
09B   SevenHills Cleveland
09B   SevenHills Cleveland w/clients
10A   Sanfilippo
10A Sanfilippo w/clients
10B   Attorneys Title Group
10B   Attorneys Title Group w/clients
11B   Koch NationaLease
11B   Koch NationaLease w/clients
12A   Brausen
12A   Brausen w/clients
12B   Mahre
12B   Mahre w/clients
13A   Interstate
13A   Interstate w/clients
13B   Blue Sky Vitamin
13B   Blue Sky Vitamin w/clients
14A   Hauck
14A   Hauck 2
14A   Hauck w/clients
14B   Trenary
14B   Trenary w/clients
15A   Redpath
15A   Redpath w/clients
15B   Lindermeyr Monroe
15B   Lindermeyr Monroe w/clients
16A   Cashe Software
16A   Cashe Software w/clients
16B Triple Crown Gaming
16B Triple Crown Gaming w/clients
17A   HSCL
17A   HSCL w/clients
17B   Ferlic Filter
17B   Ferlic Filter w/clients
18A   Toshiba
18A   Toshiba w/clients
18B   Demaray/Kneisl
18B   Demaray/Kneisl w/clients
Executive Director JWB standing back to back with Santa

Bark’s Bytes #41 | You

Published February 9, 2021

It took me nearly three months and I just finished reading the “Subminimum Wages: Impacts on the Civil Rights of People with Disabilities” 2020 Statutory Enforcement Report issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (CCR). Not only was it long at 349 pages and detailed with 1,320 footnotes; more than 9,700 public comments were submitted (far more than any other issue ever studied by the CCR) and is a great example of a predetermined partisan recommendation waiting for a report.

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Report to the Community 2019-20

Published January 7, 2021

We’re proud to announce that Merrick, Inc.’s Report to the Community 2019-2020 is now available for your viewing pleasure and can be downloaded by clicking here. Readers will encounter the following in this year’s Report to the Community:

  • A Message from the Executive Director
  • A Summary of Our Programs
  • Volunteer, Business Partner, and Client Spotlights;
  • Merrick By the Numbers;
  • and more.

Download 2020 Report