Meeting Recap - January 11, 2022
Today’s meeting was held off-site at Achieve Services.  CEO Tom Weaver said that Achieve was founded in 1964 to serve the needs of children with developmental disabilities.  As governmental programs for disabled kids increased, Achieve gradually shifted its focus to developmentally disabled adults.  By 1974, Achieve had created an adult day program with vocational training and community-based programming.  In 2004, Achieve spun off from Anoka County and became a private non-profit agency.  Pre-COVID, they were serving about 195 individuals and, although the pandemic has reduced that number to 135 participants, Achieve still has a budget of 4.3 million dollars.  Because many of Achieve’s participants are unable to drive, transportation is an integral part of the program and there are 35 handicap equipped busses to provide transportation to Achieve, to and from community based employment, and home again.  Achieve honors the personal choices of  its participants by offering options of community-based employment, Achieve Center based employment or non-employment services, or some combination of the three. 
 
Government funding for Achieve is split about 50/50 between State and Federal, but the Disability Waiver Rate System (DWRS) provides only 80% of revenues, leaving 20% to be funded by other sources.  Tom said that DWRS has resulted in decreased wages for staff, resulting in an increase in staff turnover rate from 7% in 2016 to 37% in 2020.  Achieve has received a DWRS “Transition Grant” to develop a sustainable business model but the real solution would be to restructure DWRS reimbursement to fairly compensate disability services.  Further complicating the issue is a federal task force goal to eliminate wages below minimum wage for disabled workers.  Tom characterized this effort as a well intended but short-sighted initiative which, if implemented, would result in thousands of lost jobs for disabled workers and those who are attempting to help them find meaningful employment.
 
Tom offered several ways that we can support Achieve’s mission:
  - Tell your network about Achieve
  - Attend their Annual Gala
  - Ask you legislator to support Achieve
  - Include Achieve in your planned giving
  - Donate online at Achieve Services
 
Many thanks to Tom, Program Director Carol Donahoe and Development Director Brooke Jensen for an informative presentation and an inspiring tour of the facility.
 
Nils Friberg had the honor of presenting Cindy Carlson with her Paul Harris Fellowship + 2.  Nils thanked Cindy for her support of the Foundation as well as the many, many ways she contributes to the vitality of this Rotary Club.  Nils and Cindy are shown below (this photographer apologizes to Nils for failing to ask him to remove his mask for the photo…soon we may not even notice our masks)
 
Next week’s meeting (Jan. 18th) is back at the Exchange with local author Rex Greenfield as our presenter.
 
Speakers
Jan 18, 2022
Local Author - One lifetime is not enough - and above average pickle ball player!
Jan 25, 2022
Redistricting
Feb 01, 2022
Wishes and More
Feb 08, 2022
Cars for Neighbors
Feb 15, 2022
Airport Foundation
View entire list
Russell Hampton
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