Many of you are receiving this January newsletter at the “end” of December. I will mostly reserve my comments to 2015, but somewhat look ahead to 2016. Stay tuned for the January newsletter to be more robust with thoughts about the New Year!
This has been a year of transition, as the Board of Directors likes to point out. The long-time Executive Director (28 years), Corrine Schmidt retired at the end of 2014 and while Corrine is still involved in providing advice, planning trips for our clients and helping out in other ways, I had the opportunity this year to experience a lot of firsts.
The end of 2015 marks a full-first year for me at Northeast Residence as the Executive Director and the first full year for Shari Newgard as Program Director (though Shari has been in her position a few months longer than me and has been with Northeast Residence for 15 years prior to her role of Program Director). I have enjoyed every minute of my experience here. I am so fortunate to have this experience and getting to know our clients, our staff, our families and our business partners has been the highlight of my year. Planning toward and for our future is another element that is very exciting.
In looking briefly ahead to 2016, we continue to expect changes at the legislature in funding and regulations. Additionally, we have been notified that DHS will be coming for a compliance monitoring visit to ensure we are following the regulations we are required to follow, and as any good provider will tell you we at Northeast Residence welcome this visit. We want to highlight the good work that we do and continue to receive guidance and partnership from DHS as we are two years into these new 245D regulations.
While the 2016 legislative session doesn’t officially begin until March of 2016, we have learned that the state has a large surplus again. The Advocacy Committee at NER has begun making plans and has agreed that we will be putting a focus on what we can do to educate and persuade the legislature and Governor that funds should be invested in people with disabilities. The Northeast Residence Advocacy Committee would like to invite you to a meeting at the NER Main office (410 East Little Canada Road) on January 28, 2016 from 6-8 pm. This meeting is open to families, guardians, staff, and those citizens that are interested in making a difference for the clients we serve. You may recall that for the past few years there has been a group of organizations advocating on behalf of 5% increases to the rates that providers are paid, called the 5% Campaign. The 5% Campaign has recently changed their name to The Best Life Alliance. I encourage you to like them on Facebook and get the latest on their efforts.
As with any effort, only participation from the public will achieve success. While the name of the official effort is different, the goal remains the same – to secure increases from the legislature for disability services so that providers can increase the pay of caregivers. At NER we are fully committed to this effort and we ask that families, staff, loved ones and others join us to learn more about how to get involved.
In closing, I encourage you to read the newsletter article by our Board Chair, Joan Purrington in regard to new Board members. I want to acknowledge and thank two Board members that have left the Board of Directors this year. NER appreciates the many years of service by our former Board member Dale Roffers and the work of our former Board member Margi Miller. Their dedication and commitment shines through in the work that they did and the support they provided to the clients of NER.
Please also read the article by Jessica Baker, the “new” Development Director recently hired by NER for this position. While Jessica is known to many, given her years of service to NER in other roles, Jessica has a passion for NER, and for raising money.
Please welcome our new Board members, Karin Jacobson, Andrea Perzichilli and Jackie Ulrich.
Happy Holidays to you all and have a Happy and Safe New Year!
Heidi Holste, Executive Director