The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2011, March 26-27

Northeast Residence Inc.

Mission Statement:

NER honors the right of all children and adults with developmental disabilities to live, work, play, and make choices, thereby enriching our communities.

In an attempt to put this belief into practice, NER promotes the development of programs that are responsive to the individual needs of families with developmentally disabled members. As part of this effort NER operates residential and family support programs for people with developmental disabilities. In addition, the Board of Directors and employees of NER. strive to educate other members of the community on the right of people with developmental disabilities to enjoy life experiences that affirm their individuality, dignity and self-respect.

Brief Summary of Organization’s History:

Northeast Residence, Inc. (NER) first opened its doors in 1973 to provide long-term care to nine young children with profound and severe developmental disabilities. In 1982, NER was chosen to receive a grant, one of 13 organizations country wide, to offer a pilot program designed to provide respite care to families who had children with autism living in the family home. The purpose of this grant was to offer support to families as they struggled with the many challenges that having a child with autism presents. The belief at that time was that autism possibly was an environmentally induced problem and with “proper” training and support, autism could be cured. The hope was that after a six- month training program the child could move back into the family home and things would be fine. Needless to say, this theory was not correct. But what people did learn was that the need for respite-care was huge and in fact, imperative if families were to keep their children with autism and other developmental disabilities at home rather than in long-term care institutions. NER is the sole survivor of the original 13 providers. NER’s respite-care program has served more than 350 families since that time. In 1993 working with a grant from the St. Paul Foundation to develop a long-range plan, NER paved a path that has led to 28 programs for persons with physical and developmental disabilities. These programs include fully accessible respite care, after school programs, summer programs, an adult day program, in-home care for a few hours at a time as needed, and long-term care housing. In 1999 with gifts from friends, NER opened a respite-care home to replace the smaller one in White Bear Lake. This respite- care home is equipped to provide care to children and adults in wheelchairs, something we could never do before. Donations have also helped NER with capital improvements to existing properties allowing NER the ability to be good neighbors by keeping our homes in good condition and properties appealing to the neighborhoods in which they are located.

Brief Description of Organization’s current programs/activities:

1. Respite Care Population Served:

Autism, Epilepsy, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Rhett Syndrome, Tuber Sclerosis, Attention Deficit Disorder, Pervasive Personality Disorder, and Bi-Polar are just a few of the diagnosis that children and adults served by NER have. The respite-care program serves individuals ages five to adult (the eldest client served was 85). Some have more than one diagnosis and some are also hearing and/or vision impaired.

The respite care program is open to anyone in the state of MN. Generally speaking though people are from the 5 county metro area with the vast majority of the people coming from Washington and Ramsey Counties. People have come from more than 42 different communities since the program first started.

Respite care serves a variety of needs including emergency placement due to illness or death in a family, to give family members a break from one another, and/or, to help the individual with disabilities become more independent and prepared to live apart from other family members. Respite also helps keep all family members emotionally healthy and better able to meet the needs of all family members, not just the one with the disabilities. As one parent states, “I am a single parent with two other children. Respite allows our family some normal time together that does not revolve around my (disabled) son. Respite also allows not only physical rest, but mental rest for me. With time off, I can be a better parent, without it my son could not live at home with us.”

Another mother writes, “With a handicapped child even our four year old has to assume the role of caregiver. She needs time away from that responsibility. It is not possible when the handicapped child is there.”

More examples taken from NER surveys in response to the question can be found later in this application. Most impressive is that when asked “Why do you need Respite, Why NER” virtually everyone, 100% of all people feel that respite is a necessity, not just something nice to have. In additon all families who returned surveys said they would or they alreadt have recommended other families to NER.

2. Extended-Day/Summer Programs:

Primarily, the Extended-Day Program is designed for working (or just busy!) moms and dads with young and adult children who are developmentally disabled living at home. The blatant fact is….. after-school programs for kids with developmental disabilities are few and far between. Moreover, many after-school programs only serve those up to a certain age, usually around twelve years old. Beyond this age, parents report there are no extended-day opportunities available. Many children with developmental disabilities remain in the family home well into their 20’s and 30’s and up.

Additional help to these families has enabled parents to work outside the home without the constant worry of after-school or day-program care. Families are also more able to make and keep medical appointments and to participate in school programs for their children without disabilities when they have extended-day programs available to them. This results in a lower incidence of family crises and a chance for families to spend what many call “normal” time together.

When asked how the extended day has helped their family, one mother wrote, “I would have lost my job by now if it hadn’t been for this program. Last year I missed a lot of work because I didn’t have dependable and capable help. My child loves the staff and the time she spends with peers and the staff are great.” Respite care also gives us a much needed break and provides opportunities for our child that would otherwise not be available. (NOTE: It was NER’s respite care families that asked for after school care and now many of them use both programs.)

NER is very pleased that 100% of all families who responded to our surveys have rated the extended-day/summer program with an A or a B.

3. Long-term care:

In 1993, many respite-care families began to ask that NER open long-term care homes for their children. Prior to that time, when families were interested in long-term care, NER would have to tell them that we did not provide that service and that they should contact the county to find out how to proceed. Recognizing that this was not fair to families and that it provided an opportunity for NER to open long-term care homes, NER obtained a grant from the St. Paul Foundation to help develop a long-rang plan.

In 1994 our first two long-term care homes opened. NER’s long-term care program now has a total of 24 homes. All but three of them include former respite-care clients. This says a lot about the confidence and trust families have in NER. Like other programs, families give NER long-term care programs high marks in all areas.

4. Adult-Day Care Center:

In 1999 some of the long-term care clients served by NER were having some major behavioral concerns and their day programs did not feel that they could continue to provide services for them. The concerns were for the safety of the other people served in the programs. It was NER’s belief that the problems were more an issue of environmental concerns than anything else. The people involved had serious sensory related issues and the traditional day program setting, in our opinion was too large, too noisy, and had far too many people milling about.

In response to these concerns, NER opened its own day program for these highly aggressive individuals. We designed this program to not exceed six people at any one time with a staff ratio of one staff for every 2 people served.

The outcomes have been truly amazing! Within less than one year we saw the numbers of aggressions decline by over 80%! In the entire 13 years the worst “injury” has been hair pulling, albeit severe hair pulling, there has not been another major incident in over three years.

This is just one more example of NER’s willingness to be creative and to always put the clients’ needs above the bottom line and all else.

Why Choose NER

1. NER has served the twin cities area for more than 37 years

2. NER is a proven leader in innovative thinking to provide unique services to families who have members with developmental disabilities

3. NER has served more than 350 different families from 42 different communities in the metro area.

4. NER does not have the expertise, nor the ability to pay to have a quality web site developed but we do have the resources to keep one updated.

5. ER has an excellent history of using all gifts received to further the mission of the organization

6. NER has numerous testimonials from families, friends, and employees.

7. NER is continuously asked to do more with less and this support will make the organization more efficient, help donors make contributions more easily, help people recognize the need for volunteers in numerous ways, show support to our vendors and to those who support our fundraising events, serve as a link to all of these as well as to resources for families who are in need of support. 8.This website can also serve as a link to our employees in need of different kinds of support such as food shelves, counseling centers, and confidential reporting or commentaries.

9. NER is the best of the best! We have long-term employees who live and breath the mission because we truly honor the right of all children and adults with developmental disabilities to live, work, play, and make choices, thereby enriching our communities.

Why Respite?

1) Crises Intervention: Visits due to death or medical emergency within the family, or any threat to the safety/well-being of a person.

2) Crises Prevention: Visits due to high stress levels within the family structure in part caused by the 24 hour day-to-day care of the individuals with disabilities.

3) Transitional Living: Preparation, for both family and client, for a more independent living situation. Adapting to living away from parents and with peers so as to be better prepared when the time comes.

4) Prevents Family Breakdown: Offers a chance to have normal times together, reduces stress and helps make family members (parents and siblings) better able to deal with day-to-day responsibilities.

Why Northeast Residence Respite Care Program:

1) Proven dedication and commitment of staff to provide quality, loving care. NOTE: Audited financial reports show over 89% of all dollars goes directly into programs.

2) NER Respite is highly recommended by county case managers, families and licensing workers.

3) NER Respite falls under state and federal rules and regulations and is inspected regularly for compliance.

4) Individuals need and want to spend time at NER.

5) NER Respite is essential if parents want to keep their children at home.

6) NER comes highly recommended by parents.

7) In recent surveys respondents rated quality of NER services excellent.

8) For many, Northeast Residence has been the only respite care available that will accept individuals who are non-ambulatory and/or diagnosed with severe and/or profound developmental delay.

9) For families who have children in wheelchairs there is little to no respite care available. Many of these families have never even spent one full day apart from their child with special needs. Some say, NER is their only hope of finding help!

Following is a sample of comments answering “Why Respite, Why NER” taken from surveys:

"Thank You ! Than You ! Thank You! You keep our family whole by giving us a respite break. A special place where we know our daughter is safe and happy!"

"We wish you would open a Respite Care Program in Little Falls or St. Cloud. We drive 400 miles round trip for a break for each Respite Stay!"

“Our daughter is mentally retarded and blind. NER has provided us with a sense of relief. We were able to take our first trip in 34 years when she was at NER. We would not have done this if the staff and supervision were not excellent. Our daughter enjoys going to NER.”

“My son can never be left alone although he is 16. He’s a child that will never grow up. He can be very destructive and violent and has temper tantrums. He gets up at night so I rarely get full nights sleep. As he gets bigger, so do the problems.”

“I am a widow and over 70 years old. I have sole responsibility for my son’s personal care and all his needs.”

“I am a single parent with two other children. Respite allows our family some normal time together that does not revolve around my (disabled) son. Respite also allows not only physical rest, but also mental rest for me. With time off, I can be a better parent, without it my son could not live at home with us.”

“With a handicapped child, even our “normal” four year old has to assume the role of caregiver. She needs time away from that responsibility. It is not possible when the handicapped child is there.”

“The only time our child gets a chance to go into the community is when he is at NER.”

" We depend on Respite services in order to keep our daughter at home. She loves going and we have peach of mind knowing she is safe."

Extended day responses included:

“ The staff do an excellent job! They have good training and they are able to meet my child’s needs.”

"The extended-day staff is like family to our daughter."

“The extended-day program gives me piece of mind and I do not have to worry about my child when I cannot be at home. The staff are wonderful and they know my child very well."

Long term Care survey results:

"She feels like staff is her family , which it is now. The staff that I know are caring and thoughtful of the residents they care for. She loves the trips they plan and offer her and she is always well taken care of. The house she lives in is nicer than the one I live in! That is a testetment to how good you folks take care of her."

"I am so pleased with the care and support my son receives receives at his home. The supervisor and staff are all great!"

“The home is always clean and pleasing and the staff are friendly and kind to my


“I think NER does a very nice job. I know my child’s medical needs are being met and that he is safe and happy.”

“The RN has been wonderful and she shows that she really cares about my son and his many medical problems. Since living in the NER home, his care has greatly improved.”

“The supervisor is very knowledgeable and does a great job of training staff. I really appreciate all the good care. My husband and I know that our son is in good hands and we do not worry about his future when we are no longer here.”

"My sister has been with NER for 10 years and we all know she is happy and her medical needs are all taken care of, thank you!"

"The NER staff is so well trained and qualified. Communication lines are always open and well received. We couldn’t imagine a better place for our son."

"I always tell people about how wonderful NER is and how helpful NER has been to our family with support and kindness and caring. I am so lucky to have had NER in our life for the past 24 years. I can’t imagine trying to manage without the help and caring NER has been to our family."


"When Robert first began coming to Northeast Residence, Inc. (NER), he was six years old and in school. The school’s before and after-care system was not a good fit for Robert, so we began looking for alternatives. We found that alternative in NER’s extended-day and summer program in White Bear Lake. Robert spends after-school time and non-school days in the company of his peers, going on outings, doing activities, or just chillin’ out, all while being cared for by trained, caring staff. We couldn’t go to work and do the things we do if it weren’t for extended day.

Robert also receives care through NER's in-home program. His staff, who also happen to work with him at the extended day program, comes to our family home to do things with Robert while we tend to other family and household needs. With these two supports in plac we are able to put the "normal" routine back in our family.

When Robert turned 15 we felt it was time to give respite care a try. So, in January, of last year Robert began attending respite care as a “stepping stone” for Robert’s future. It was harder on us than it was on Robert. He really did well on his first visit sleeping away from home. Admittedly, it was not as easy one us. But, after his second visit and we saw that he made himself at home, we became more comfortable. We know he’s in good hands; we know we don’t have to worry. NER has taken the stress out of our lives.”

Jim and Kathy Florian


"It has been more than 20 years since we were first introduced to NER. Our county social worker recommended we consider using NER’s out of home respite care program to allow us the opportunity for periodic breaks from the day-to-day care for our daughter, Karen

Respite provided more than we realized was possible. Not only did we get the much needed breaks, but the respite care program also gave Karen a sense of independence while at the same time laying the foundation for what Karen would experience ten years later.

In August of 2000, Karen moved from our home to one of NER’s “group homes”. Karen enjoys living with three housemates and she has established that she doesn’t live with her parents anymore and that she has her own home now. She likes to visit us, but is happy to return to “her” home. Karen loves her home and loves her staff.

Karen also attends NER’s adult day program, an alternative to the traditional day program. This smaller and staff intensive program provides Karen with the structure and environment she needs to be successful throughout her days

NER ranks as the best group home in the twin cities. I can say this because through my work I have seen many other group homes and none of them compare to NER.

As an adult who had never lived away from her parent’s home, the transition to a group home would have been devastating for Karen and for us had she not used the respite care program first. We are so very grateful to NER and pleased with the choices we have made for Karen. NER ROCKS! John and June Martin


Spotlight...An Interview with the Jantzen Family:

Elizabeth Jantzen was first introduced to NER just over three years ago at the suggestion of her social worker. She began visiting our respite-care program in Little Canada for overnight stays. Respite allows her parents, Jim and Joy, to do things they might not otherwise be able to do while Elizabeth is at home, like a vacation. It also allows Elizabeth time away with her peers, as most young adults enjoy. She likes the activities and the people at the NER respite program. As Joy shared, “She loves it!”

Later the following year, Elizabeth began coming to our extended-day program in White Bear Lake. This was a much-needed program for her parents who, up until this time, had to piece together care for Elizabeth in order to go to work. In addition, the care was often undependable. NER extended-day has given them the dependability they need. Their work schedule, as Jim said, is “not all hinged on the performance of one individual”. .. coming into their home. Elizabeth loves the social time with peers and activities at extended-day. Jim and Joy said Elizabeth talks about her extended day friends often.

Elizabeth also enjoys the in-home care she receives from NER. A staff from the extended-day program comes to the family home to be with her, which gives her parents time to tend to other household and personal needs. The staff also helps Elizabeth attend her many outside activities such as going to pottery class and participating in the handbell choir at the MacPhail Center for Music.

The mix of programs that Elizabeth and her family participate in at NER works well for them. In fact, Joy said, “They’re survival now. Without them, I don’t know how we’d survive.” The combination of respite, extended-day and in-home provides a balance that meets the needs of the entire family. The needs of our families have always driven and created our responsive programs. Referring to the variety of programs NER provides to its families, Jim said, “NER has the whole enchilada.” We like to think so.

Elizabeth’s future plans include attending a day program and getting a job. Another possibility is a group home that she calls her own. However, group home funding for this type of living arrangement is on hold along with the state’s economy. For now, they are very satisfied with the programs NER offers, and we are happy to serve them.

What new functionality we are looking for

Professional, yet easy to navigate



While there are many things to consider and we only learned of this program five days ago, we have been busy coming up with some ideas that we are really excited about.

NER recognizes that if we are chosen for this amazing opportunity we have a lot of work to complete in a fairly short period of time, but we are up to the challenge. Heck, we have to meet some pretty big challenges nearly every day and this is what keeps many of us motivated and energized.

For the purpose of creating a website that can really “POP” I have solicited the input from NER’s board of directors, the quality assurance team, the HR department, the training department, the finance department, and from information and comments that parents have mentioned over the years.

We envision some sort of headers at the top of the home page that would lead readers to the various areas such as:

Programs and Services, Resident Spot Light, Board Activities, Special Events, Career Opportunities, Donations and on-line giving, Training, Annual Report etc

Other things that have been suggested include:

-Pictures of residents- activities

-Resident testimonials

-Staff testimonials

-Parent testimonials

-Board profile and volunteer opportunities.

--Monthly newsletters posted

Job descriptions, including desired work experience

-Internship & volunteer opportunities (get word out to colleges for paid internship- like what Amanda did)

-Option to "subscribe" to job opportunity updates (if updated weekly)

Lists of employment opportunities

Online training options

Education on various kinds of giving. Just information on planned giving, our endowment, general donations, etc. Then, maybe have a link to our actual donations page from that page?’

Annual report

Parent support group meetings

Links to services with various support services for staff and/or parents.

Information on Special Needs Trusts

Information on Burial Funds

How the new functionality will help

NER fully believes that we are the leader in providing quality services for families and individuals with developmental disabilities. Often times counties contact us and ask if they can have a family tour some of our homes just so they can see what a "group home" can and should look like.

We set the standard high and we want to raise the bar high for all providers. We want to be the example for others to follow and we beleive that this new and improved website can help us achieve that goal by educating families and other providers.

We also believe that it is our responsiblity to do wahtever we can to help eliminate the stigma of having a "group-home" in your neighborhood. When we do our jobs well, with good supervisions, self-evlauations, obtaining good feedback, and being responsive to concerns from neighbors and/or parents only then are we able to make good progess in meeting this goal.

This website will give people are opportunity to learn more about NER and to provide feedback and ask questions. We can even have our annual parent surveys on the web site for those who prefer to do them on line.

It will also provide information on how to learn more about obtaining services and how to support our mission through volunteer work and various kinds of donations.

We would like to be linked with local high school or colleges for work study or internship programs. NER has had several employees go on to be special education teachers, a couple of them have become physicians, some RN's etc. The work provides excellent experience for so many different areas as well such as such as physical therapy, are andmusic therapy, neurology, psychology or psychiatry etc. The list goes on and our college students by and large have little to no experience working with people with special needs......even if it is their plan to work in the medical or educational fields.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

Before & After Snapshots

Thumbnail_screen%20shot%202011-04-04%20at%2010.57.26%20am Thumbnail_new%20home%20page

3 Messages from Supporters

2011-02-10 17:23:50 UTC
Robert Morse for NE Residence

On Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 7:42 AM, Morse, Robert, A wrote:

My youngest brother, Brian, has always been an integral member of our family growing up. He is autistic, and cannot communicate like any average person, but always needed supervision to go through life, was always very happy, and very vulnerable. I am the middle child of 5 with 3 brothers and a sister. I'm a cop's kid, and I never remembered wanting for anything, but I know it was tough raising our size family on a cop's salary. I remember when he reached 21, and he needed to start life apart from my folks. It was like a death in the family, and there was absolutely no way I could ever describe it with any justice, only it was extremely hard. Over the course of 25 years, the death of my dad and ongoing lives of us children with our own families, there were different group homes. My mom has continued to work tirelessly for her son. There have been some good, and very bad, stories for Brian along the way but he was able to obtain a waiver from Hennepin County (no small task!) in order to get him out of his last For Profit home in N Mpls with below average care, some of which was dangerous we later found out. Through the work of NER administrator Corrine Schmidt and multitude of NER staff, Brian is now living in an NER home in Roseville.

NER is 1 of 3 non-profits in MN that provide group home living, with respite care which is always operated at a loss but desperately needed. I have seen lives turned upside down for the good, parents and family who had no lives suddenly being able to enjoy life, and the residents NER serves have happier lives, a place to call their own home. NER was a breath of fresh air, always placing residents first in all decisions. I am on the Board of Directors as the Treasurer on a volunteer basis and I can tell you this - NE Residence' mission to take good care of the vulnerable is its life breath, and is a model for Ramsey County. NER needs a great website to further its work as we build for its future with an endowment fund during these times of ever decreasing government funds to care for the vulnerable in our communities. The need is continuing to grow, but NER is one of a kind. Thank you for your consideration.

Robert A. Morse
Bremer Community Business Banking
Taking Action!
B 651-762-2406
F 651-762-2418

2011-02-11 15:11:14 UTC
Joan Purrington

This e-mail is in support of Northeast Residence (NER). I volunteer for this excellent non-profit organization that meets the needs of children and adults with developmental disabilities. NER was started by parents with children with severe developmental impairments. The parents were looking for an organization to help their children learn the very basics of self-care. There was no organization in the our area to assist them. The parents started NER with the hope that the children would learn the skills needed to live more independently. Over time it was clear that the children needed to be in an environment that provided 24 hour care and met the basic needs in a home setting. The demand for services at NER continued to grow. NER established a strong administration that works very hard to provide high quality care with very low overhead.

The NER staff is well trained and caring. It is our goal to have the community become more aware of the skills that each of our residents demonstrate as they live, work, and play in our community. We also want potential employees to know about and to select NER as a place to work and develop.

A revised web site is needed for us to continue to communicate our Mission and to hire the best employees to work with the residents in our care.

Best regards,
Joan Purrington
Board of Director

2011-02-14 13:34:53 UTC
Gail Hays

Northeast Residence has applied for consideration in the Overnight Website Challenge. I have been employed with NER for 23 years, 18 of those as the supervisor of the Respite program and currently as a Staff Development Coordinator. I write in support of our application.

We serve people with developmental disabilities, providing permanent residential services, as well as our highly valued Respite and Extended Day programs. We have served hundreds of families over the past 38 years. As the Respite supervisor, I heard time and time again from clients' parents that our programs were a key factor in keeping their families intact and healthy. As many of our Respite clients transitioned into our permanent group homes, I heard again from these families how happy and grateful they were to have their children/siblings move into a safe, secure and loving environment.

NER is a non-profit organization. We have a longstanding operating philosophy of putting client need first when we address budget issues, often in the face of declining resources. This means we lack the dollars needed to take advantage of the technological advances that can make administrative, training and outreach efforts more efficient and productive.

With an improved website, NER will be able to:

1) communicate with client families, effectively keeping them fully informed about new services and opportunities

2) communicate more often and more efficiently with our staff, improving the teamwork model we embrace

3) greatly enhance our staff training/development programs, making online training opportunities available

4) improve staff recruitment strategies, attracting the most qualified applicants

5) reach out to communities, informing the public about our services and inviting them to contact us

6) enhance fund development strategies, ensuring a secure future for our residents

NER is committed to our residents, clients and their families. Please help us serve them.

Gail Hays
NER Staff Development Coordinator

Our Mission

As mentioned earlier NER has a formal mission statement and that is: "NER honors the right of all children and adults with developmental disabilities to live, work, play, and make choices, thereby enriching our communities." In an attempt to put this belief into practice, NER promotes the development of programs that are responsive to the individual needs of families with developmentally disabled members. As part of this effort NER operates residential and family support programs for people with developmental disabilities. In addition, the Board of Directors and employees of NER. strive to educate other members of the community on the right of people with developmental disabilities to enjoy life experiences that affirm their individuality, dignity and self-respect. While there are many good providers in our communities I am certain wihtout a dobut there are no providers more dedicated more certain of their mission than NER. We believe and we practice our mission by trying to ensure that our yards look better than any other on the block, that our houses are maintained better than any in the neighborhood, that our residents look well groomed and presentable when we take them into the community and when one of them has difficulties in the community we remove them so people do not stare at them. We know that life is not perfect and that for the people we serve it can sometimes be very difficult so we must always do all that we can to be positive and diligent in our work. We know that staff are human and they make mistakes but it is managments job to work with them and support them in everyway possible. We hold open houses to invite neighbors in so they can meet the people who live in their neighborhoods. Some come, some not, but at least we reach out to all of them so they can see that we are all more alike than not. I have worked for Northeast Residence since 1986 and I see very positve changes but there is still much more that can be done. A new and more informative and inviting website will help us keep moving in the right direction.