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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Laura Baker School Association

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Human Services

Mission: Our mission is to respect the life choices and dreams of people with developmental disabilities and help them reach their goals.

Target demographics: People with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Geographic areas served: Rice County, Minnesota and the surrounding area.

Programs: OAK STREET SERVICES is a licensed intermediate care facility (ICF-DD) that provides a home with services for people 16 years or older who, because of their developmental disabilities including people with Prader-Willi Syndrome, are not able to live independently in the community. COMMUNITY-BASED LIVING provides residential services in multiple homes in Northfield. Each of the homes has 24-hour staffing, providing people with developmental disabilities the support, training and assistance they need to live as independently as possible. FAMILY SUPPORT SERVICES helps families navigate the world of raising a special needs child and ensure the successful future of their special needs adult. We do this primarily through Respite Care events. CREATIVE ARTS PROGRAM uses art and music as creative tools so clients can focus on developing physical, cognitive, emotional and social skills. Our creative arts programing serves as a catalyst that enriches the individual and community life of clients and staff by providing opportunities to learn from each other through shared creative experiences. PATHWAYS TO THE FUTURE helps to serve as a voice for people with disabilities and engaging the community to advocate for: Accessible, affordable housing, adequate respite resources for families and Public Policies that benefit people with disabilities.

Community Stories

39 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Patty B.5

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter was welcomed with open arms at Laura Baker. After moving 10 times in 2 years, she finally found a place that she could call home. Love, love, love the staff!

1 Madison S.3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I love getting to see my college buddy every week. It's such a rewarding experience to engage in all aspects of my community!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm a college student in Northfield and have been volunteering at Laura Baker over the past year. It brightens my day to visit the clients over on their campus and interact with the most lovable, caring people. The team at Laura Baker works incredibly hard to create an inclusive and nurturing environment - I would recommend visiting or volunteering here to anyone!

2 Alyssa Herzog M.

Donor

Rating: 5

There are two things that set Laura Baker apart in my mind:
1. Its unending commitment to the central idea that all people deserve to live a life filled with dignity, respect, and meaning, and to adapt their services and programs to meet the needs of individuals and families.
2. Its careful attention to the importance of community building, within LBSA and with the larger Northfield community, and its open invitation to be a part of their mission however it works for you.

I am proud to support their work and to connect with them both professionally and personally as their exceptional staff work tirelessly to provide excellent quality of care for their clients and to create an inclusive community for all!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My experience with LBSA dates back to the early 90's when I worked in one of the residential units during my breaks home to Northfield from college. My time there impacted the rest of my life and made me forever sensitive to those with special needs. Laura Baker School does an amazing job of assimilated its residents into our community. I am proud to have worked there and am proud to support the School to this day.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Laura Baker is one of those amazing organizations where you can feel the love and respect. From leadership, clients, staff, donors and volunteers it is nothing short of magic that happens there.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LBSA plays a vital role in Northfield and greater community. I've had the pleasure of being a volunteer and donor with this organization for several years and truly believe it just continues to get better and better. Their service to clients and people they attract to work towards their mission are impressive. I'm proud to be part of it!

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 5

This organization is well managed from the top to the bottom! They have a strong leader who not only does a great job managing staff but also is always looking to innovate. Their board is engaged and believes in the mission and making a better life for the clients they serve.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered and interned with LBSA while I was in college, and I feel so lucky to have been apart of the LBSA community (and still am)! The work they do for the community is extremely important, so I want to say "thank you" to the LBSA team. The staff provides exceptional care and they are a top notch nonprofit organization. I highly recommend LBSA.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

About once a month I participate in an art or music project with Laura Baker residents. These are held at my church in Northfield, and the activities are led by the Laura Baker music therapist and the art therapist. The artistic activities give us all a fun way to interact and get to know one another. Some of the residents are out going and are easy to relate to. Others are shy and have trouble communicating, and I'm glad that they are there, even if we can't interact much. The Laura Baker staff do an incredible job of creating an environment where we can all be comfortable and be creative making art and music together. I believe that by bringing these residents to my church, Laura Baker has done an excellent of involving the community.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Once again, yesterday was a wonderful meeting with Ken!

In the 45 years I've known him, I don't recall seeing him more engaged, happy and healthy..........I think this is a wonderful testament to the work you are doing with him.

This is a great outcome for me because a year or two back Ken had a number of physical issues that were preventing him from living independently. We were so lucky to find Laura Baker and the caring staff at your Prairie home.

I thank you for your service and commitment to him.........you guys are "rock stars"

Denny Newell



1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My daughter is in the best possible environment receiving the services and opportunities that she needs. She has been able to achieve more than I thought was possible for her. It is her home and she is very happy there. She has a very caring staff and all of her needs are available and met. I definitely give Laura Baker School Association a 5 star review!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My sister has been at Laura Baker since the 1970s. She loves it there! It is her home! She has lived on campus and in two of the residential homes off campus. We are so lucky to have found Laura Baker and all of its services for my sister. She participates in many of the programs that are offered, such as the art program, music program, pet visits, gardening, farm visits and many more. She has had some health issues in the last year and everyone has been so helpful and kind as she transitions through all of this part of her life. This has been a wonderful placement for my sister. She is very comfortable there and this makes our family happy to know she loves it! Thank you, Laura Baker School Association.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

My family has been associated with Laura Baker since my sister went to live there over 40 years ago. My Dad was one of the first Board members and after he retired from the Board I was asked to become a Board member. It was one of the best decisions I have made, being part of an organization that focuses on the people it serves. A lot of organizations focus on the bottom line or serving clients the way they are told. I learned very quickly that Laura Baker Services is not that type of organization.
Laura Baker is the type of organization that does not believe in following, they believe in Leading. The individuals who call Laura Baker home are not just clients, they are alive with their own personalities and have dreams like everyone else. Being part of this organization has brought that so far to the front that it has made that thinking a part of my life.
Being part of Laura Baker Services has filled a spot in my life that I didn’t know needed to be filled until I became part of it. Laura Baker is constantly looking ahead and pushing the boundaries on the care people with developmental disabilities. It is an organization that I believe leads in not only how people with developmental disabilities are cared for but how they can live the lives they want and deserve. People can very easily overlook others that are not the same as they are, Laura Baker works to make sure that the people they serve are not forgotten but instead raised up. I am proud and honored to be a part of this organization and being on the Board with other great people who believe in Laura Baker’s Mission.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We are so fortunate to have LBSA in Northfield! They provide guidance and opportunities for so many with developmental disabilities, while also providing support to their clients and families. The Northfield community is blessed to have their clients take on many different job opportunities in town. The highlight of my year is always seeing their choir sing at the annual gala. Between my husband and I we are honored to volunteer and also support them through our business.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

For well over a hundred years, Laura Baker Services has been an integral part of the Northfield community by providing much needed services to those with disabilities. But the importance of this organizations goes beyond this.

Throughout the past several years, I have had the opportunity to work with the staff of Laura Baker in a business relationship as well as a community relationship. I’ve seen first-hand how Laura Baker brings people together through its opportunities for service, volunteerism and fundraising, while providing an understanding and awareness of the needs of their clients, including the importance of integration. Because of this, I believe those who live in our town are better able to appreciate ALL who live here!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I first became aware of the Laura Baker Services Association and their programs when I lived in Northfield. At the time I had a sister-in-law who had developmental disabilities, but was generally quite happy and could do a number of things on her own. It was a natural thing to turn to Laura Baker Services for help and guidance. Laura Baker Services was a wonderful fit for Kathy. It is very obvious that Laura Baker Services personnel really care about their mission.

-LBSA has a very experienced first rate administration whose first priority is their clients
-They have personnel who quite obviously genuinely care about what they are doing
-LBSA has a very diverse board who are members of the Norhtfield community and obviously care about their work and mission.
-Northfield and the surrounding community provide great support to LBSA and its clients. This is substantiated by the surrounding community support of Laura Baker Services generally and the annual Laura Baker Gala in particulatr which provides extraordinary support of LBSA and its clients.

If you are looking for a place for your special loved one I highly recommend that you make an effort to check out Laura Baker Services in Northfield. I am sure you will be very happy that you did. May God continue to bless this wonderful organization.

Frank Brust

1 Mary C.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Laura Baker is a huge part of our community! I have owned a small art/gift store in town for many years. I've enjoyed having many of LBSA's clients come visit me and get introduced to art and the craft of "making." I've interacted with them as a volunteer as well as a community member.

Growing up with a brother with special needs, I understand how lonely life can be for folks with anything that sets them apart. I love that Laura Baker works to make their clients part of our town by giving them a chance to have rich and diverse lives.

Sandi Gerdes (the Executive Director) is a constant champion of needs for the clients they serve. She sets an incredible example for all of us on what it means to care for your neighbors and look beyond your own circle to be part of the bigger picture.

I also enjoy seeing the local students from both colleges (St. Olaf & Carleton) having the chance to be exposed to people with different needs. This opens their eyes and hearts to build better adults. This exposure takes away the fear of the unknown for many of them who have never experienced someone who sees the world through different eyes. We all need that reminder on a regular basis & we all need to lend a hand to maintain our fabulous community!

Mary Closner




1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Laura Baker touches our family's life in so many positive ways; from Family Support Services each month to daily living support for my sister. LBSA is a fantastic community member and provides opportunities for parents to get together and meet, opportunities for my boys to help with the golf tournament, and to have the community come together for a summer fun day. Not to mention regular opportunities for college students from both St Olaf and Carleton to come together and share time with clients on a regular basis. Northfield would not be what it is without Laura Baker.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Great organization from the employees to the leadership team and board! LBSA has a clear mission and a profound impact on our community. The continue to look for ways to further their reach and enrich the lives of those they serve

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Serving on the LBSA Board of Trustees has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. LBSA's mission is to enable its clients to live their best, most fulfilling lives. I am so proud to help enable LBSA to realize its mission through my involvement with the LBSA Board of Trustees. LBSA's longstanding history of providing exceptional support and care to its clients has made LBSA a pillar of the Northfield community.

Our Executive Director (Sandi Gerdes) is second to none. She not only has an incredible grasp on the issues that face LBSA day-to-day but an inspiring vision for LBSA's future. Sandi both walks the walk and she talks the talk. It's not uncommon to see Sandi at local establishments visiting with clients and families in the evenings and on weekends. The clients and the organization are so important to Sandi.

This organization and its people are something truly special.