~In This Issue~June 2014
Clear, Simple, and Wrong by John Crea
Annual Charity Golf Schamble Recap
Client Spotlight | Philip
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We partner with: Brausen Repair Centers
Since 1969 Brausen Repair Centers have served the St. Paul, Roseville, Arden Hills, Shoreview, North Oaks, New Brighton, Little Canada and surrounding areas. They work hard every day to repair your vehicle right the first time, on time. They are family owned and Jake Brausen represents the third generation of the Brausen family members involved in the daily operations. 

Please choose to support our partners with your spending dollars! 
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Marketing & Communications Coordinator Emberly Hermann-Johnson via email at 
We seek your referrals! 
Help us continue to find meaningful work for the clients at Merrick by suggesting business partners who might be interested in hiring a client or a work crew. Send referrals to Executive Director John Wayne Barker at:
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2014 Golden Gala
Friday, October 10
The Prom Center in Woodbury

Celebrating 50 Years
with 50 Stars! 


Sunshine, Smiles, & Gratitude

Sunshine and warmer temps mean taking advantage of the outdoor season in Minnesota. More outings, lunch outside, and the freedom to move about without the hassle of snow and ice brings smiles to clients and staff. In this issue of Navigator, we celebrate staffing changes brought to us through the newly implemented 245D regulations, Work Procurement and Contract Manager John Crea sheds light on terms in our industry, we recap the 2014 Charity Golf Schamble, and we feature client Philip in our client spotlight column. Enjoy and keep those sunny smiles shining! 
Clients enjoy the sun in Merrick's courtyard which contains a labyrinth design. 
Clear, Simple, and Wrong by John Crea
There is a running argument in the field of vocational services: Are adults with disabilities better off employed "out in the community" or at "sheltered workshops"? The simple answer, of course, is out in the community. But as my brother the engineer likes to tell me, "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." (H. L. Mencken)

Working out in the community often is the best outcome for many clients at Merrick. But that's not the case for all-perhaps not even for most. We provide social and pre-vocational services for 375 adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities. Each of these 375 people have a unique personality, interests in different types of work, a distinct skill set, and support needs exactly like no other. So how can there be a single right answer to what kind of work each should be engaged in or where they should employed?


A major part of our organization's mission is to provide meaningful work for the clients, "meaningful" defined as: (i) engaged in preferred work; (ii) completed by the individual; (iii) in a setting of choice (facility, crew, hired); (iv) working desired hours; and (v) at a satisfactory wage. This column focuses on (iii), the setting of choice.


Let's define what it means to work out in the community, and compare that to what it means to work in a sheltered workshop.


Out in the community

The idyllic image of our clients working out in the community is in a fully integrated setting, constantly interacting with coworkers who are non-disabled and the public. Each day the clients benefit from these interactions, just as surely as they enrich the lives of all those with which they work. This is a fine image, and in some cases it is precisely accurate.


In other cases, though, the setting falls far short of that goal. There are businesses where individuals and work crews are huddled into their own work area, their interactions with coworkers is limited to one or two production workers in the back room, and their interactions with the public are rare indeed.


The reality for most  work crews, and to a lesser extent for some clients hired by a business, falls somewhere between the two integration extremes. Mind you, it is not a bad situation if the arrangement suits both the work crew and the business establishment. This passes the third test for "meaningful work", the setting of choice.


Sheltered workshop

One of two images may come to mind upon hearing this term:

  1. A warm fuzzy place where the clients are totally pampered and never forced to do anything not to their liking, or
  2. A sweatshop where the clients are chained to a worktable and forced to slave away by Simon Legree wannabes.

Most would agree that here at Merrick we are a lot closer to #1 than #2. But not entirely so. We are, after all, a "pre-vocational service", preparing the clients for work "in the real world." A major part of the service we offer is to guide clients toward realizing their goals and dreams. To that end, this guidance often includes some gentle encouragement by the direct support staff to the clients to show up every day prepared to work, and while on the job, to stay focused on the task at hand.


As to the social setting at Merrick, while warm and fuzzy might be a reach, there are many, many chances every day for the clients to interact positively with each other and with the staff. So much so, that some clients who could very easily be working out in the community tell us that they prefer to work here at Merrick. For many of our clients, working at 3210 Labore clearly is the setting of their choice.


This column will unlikely change many minds, and the debate "out in the community" vs. "sheltered workshops" will continue. As always, Merrick will continue to consider the client's choice in these matters. 

Annual Charity Golf Schamble Recap

With thanks to presenting sponsor Lake Area Bank, we are pleased to share the news that the Annual Charity Golf Schamble raised $35,000 to fund our mission even without actual golfing taking place!

Even The Hulk with our friends from
Warners' Stellian couldn't keep the rain away! 
We sincerely thank all involved for making the event successful and so much fun, and hope that next year Mother Nature allows us out on the links! The 2015 Charity Golf Schamble is scheduled for Monday, June 8, 2015 at Troy Burne.
Client Spotlight | Philip | Utility Services



Philip is a kind, soft spoken, gentle man who was born in Miami, Florida in 1934. Philip did not attend any special education classes growing up, as they did not exist when he was a child! Instead, his loving and supportive parents hired tutors to assist with Philip's education. They even found a special private school for Philip, a challenge in the 1940's, that he was able to attend through the age of 15.  


Philip's father was very involved in their community. He helped Philip get a job as a bank messenger in Miami, where he successfully worked for 20 years. During those two decades, the only time Philip missed work was when his father passed away. In 1985, Philip moved to Minnesota. He lived with his brother and sister-in-law until he moved into a supported living program in Ramsey County. He currently resides at Axis where he lives with roommates, including his significant other.


On November 16, 2006, Phillip enrolled for services at Merrick. He quickly made friends and became involved in self-advocacy. He jumps at the chance to go to the Capitol to meet with his legislators, likes to learn new things at conferences and workshops, and participates in internal self-advocacy activities. His friends value his friendships because he is quiet, sentimental, compassionate, sensitive, insightful, witty, and humble. 


Currently, he works in Utility Services where he happily spends his time shredding expired pull tabs to earn spending money. He is prompt, dependable, and puts in a good day's work. Earning money, enjoying friends and family, continuing to be a learner, and having opportunities to try new ventures-----he is living the good life in his 70's!  


Get to know more clients at Merrick and why our communities are better off because of the services we provide with the client spotlight stories on our website: http://bit.ly/clientspotlight
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