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2018 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

28 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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




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.

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

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

LBSA has stood the test of time over 100 years as an organization to fit the needs of those with developmental disabilities in our community to live out their dreams. I'm a proud board member that recognizes that our staff is able to do tremendous work with so few resources at their disposal to deliver on our mission. It's a testament to their passion to serve their fellow community members in need.

Donor

Rating: 5

Giving and offering my time to Laura Baker Services has been tremendously rewarding for myself and my family. The work this organization does for their clients is amazing and I'm happy to be a part of it. We are very fortunate to have this organization and the residents, staff and volunteers that come with it in our community.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

The receptionist did not even know what ICF-DD meant when I called and had me transferred to Human Resources and then when I finally did connect with someone, they acknowledged that they received my message but had other priority clients and did not think to at least let me know this. Overall rude customer service.

Comments ( 1 )

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LBSA 05/02/2018

We apologize that you had a bad experience. I can't speak to this specific incident but we do have volunteers that staff our phones and may not know all of the terminology. We always are looking to improve our service. If you would like to discuss further you can reach Andrei at ext. 108

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I'm honored and blessed to be employed by such a wonderful place of growth, warmth, kindness .
I couldn't ask for more. I'm honored to be a part of the resident's lives. THANK YOU LBSA

DANIELLE DASHEUR

Not a board member I'm just an employee but I didn't see that option.

1 Julie T.2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have served Laura Baker Services as a Board Member for over a decade because I strongly believe in its mission to honor the life choices of individuals with developmental disabilities and to advocate for the resources that will help each person reach his or her potential. I love telling the story of Laura Baker to those who may be new to the organization. The executive director is tireless in her dedication to the individual and collective needs of the clients served, and she has, through decades, helped shape an organization that is highly respected by families, social service agencies and staff. I have experienced Laura Baker to be a warm, creative and nurturing environment to clients and to new and long-term staff. Unfortunately, the legislature and governmental agencies do not allocate sufficient funding to agencies serving persons with disabilities at a level that permits LBSA to compensate highly skilled, compassionate, and creative staff at a competitive level, given cost-of-living expenses in this community. Inevitably, many highly skilled and compassionate professionals move on to other positions that can compensate them at a more sustainable level. Those individuals I know personally who have moved on continue to value Laura Baker’s learning environment, the "can-do" attitude that emanates from the top, and the trust and camaraderie of the team. One thing I have observed is the delight a staff member may show in the quirky sense of humor of a particular client, the tender sensitivity another client exhibits, and the shared pride both client and staff experience when a difficult challenge is met with courage and accomplishment. Our entire Northfield community is enriched by the presence of Laura Baker Services Association in our midst, both on the Oak Street campus and in the various group homes and family homes around town. - Julie T.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

When we moved to Northfield 22 years ago with our one year old we did not know how fortunate we were to be raising our daughter in a community that included Laura Baker Services. Not even when she was diagnosed with developmental delay and our second child was born with Down Syndrome did we know how fortunate we were to be living in a community that included Laura Baker.

But today we will proudly tell everyone that will listen, "We have been blessed to raise our children in this community BECAUSE of Laura Baker."

Over the years Laura Baker Services has given my husband and me and voice so that we can share the triumphs and struggles of raising children with special needs with others in the community so that our lives can be understood.

Because of Laura Baker our daughters have had the opportunity to get together on a monthly basis on the Laura Baker campus and socialize with special needs peers and volunteers from the community to engage in themed activities and build relationships in their monthly Family Support Services respite offering.

It's because of Laura Baker that parents have been able to meet regularly to share concerns and brainstorm solutions to the issues that face our now 20 -something adult children with disabilities. In this venue we have discussed possible housing solutions, opened the door to potential employment and identified the lack of transportation as a huge hurdle in our youth gaining independence.

Because of Laura Baker our youth were able to experience face to face interviews with many business people in the community in a non-threatening atmosphere where they could talk about their strengths and weaknesses challenging the potential employers to think of employment in a new way ie; "What gifts does this individual have and how can they be used to benefit my business?"

Because of Laura Baker our oldest daughter was able to become a resident in one of their group homes 2 1/2 years ago. As a 21 year old she had been wanting to have her "own place" for quite awhile so her transition went very well. Over these 2 years her independence and ability to navigate in the adult world has been a great gift to not only her, but our whole family. She gladly does her share of household chores and enjoys living with young women close to her own age. The staff continue to impress us with their ability to facilitate mending relationships of the four young women living under one roof and all of their comings and goings. Her group home has done a fantastic job keeping our daughter engaged in the community and meeting her head to head with all of her needs.

Because of Laura Baker we can think positively of the future for our daughters.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Laura Baker Services Association is an incredible organization that helps people with developmental disabilities realize their life's dreams. The focus at Laura Baker is on the client and revolves around the fact one solution does not fit all needs. A wide array of living options are supported at this organization and clients and their families can choose what works best for their situation. Laura Baker creates a home for each individual with all appropriate supports. The staff is selfless and passionate about their vocation and it shows in the care they provide. The Northfield community is extremely supportive of the Association and recognizes that they are one of top employers in the area. In addition to serving the clients well Laura Baker Services also makes a positive contribution back to the community of Northfield. The positive impact this organization has on a person with developmental disabilities and their family as well as the community is second to none.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Laura Baker is a unique place in Minnesota for people with disabilities. For individuals like my son Seth who lives there it offers a small campus community where he is able to know others, participate in social activities, and live in a connected way. Seth has severe autism and can't participate much out in the community. This left him isolated and living alone in a room in a group home much of the time until he was able to come to Laura Baker. At Laura Baker he is surrounded by a group of caring professionals and other residents that mimic a family for him, something he never had in prior placements. This clean, well cared for campus with 5 group homes, embraces its residents as though they really are related and their quality of life really matters.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

My relationship and that of my company, has been primarily on a professional level. I have had the sincere honor and pleasure of working closely with the amazing LBSA staff for over 25 years, My involvement has included finding cost effective solutions to their vehicle needs, and providing the various fleet vehicles. During these many years. I have had the opportunity to attend several of the LBSA's events, including and participating in the annual Golf event for the past 12 years. I assure you that my experience has been nothing short of incredible…time after time! The administrative staff, caregivers, and all the volunteers have been delightful to interact with. Everyone involved with Laura Baker Services is consistent in their sincere loyalty and dedication to the organization and the clients they serve. It has been a pleasure to witness the warm and caring interaction of clients and staff.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

Laura Baker makes a difference! It betters the life of each client it serves, but it also betters the lives of their families and the community of Northfield. It is well run even on a very low fat budget. I had no idea of the wingspan of the organization, but there are so many areas LBSA serves. I am proud to be on the board!

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Over fifty years ago when my two brothers with Downs Syndrome became residents of Laura Baker School Association, my family did not realize their capabilities. The two learned to read and write, to be mannerly, to handle money and to live and work in a community. When my youngest brother began to have memory problems, he received special care. He eventually lost physical ability and needed help with everything. His caregivers were loving and attentive. The day he was dying, the night staff person came to see him one last time. If I had memory problems, I’d like to live where he lived. The older of my two brothers has enjoyed great stability, living in the same house with the same house mates for many years. He continues to work and to enjoy his favorite outings. Their living at Laura Baker has been a blessing to my brothers and our family.