By Dianne Gauger

Guest Contributor

Ability Building Center (ABC) Houston County Program Director Judy Johnson says staff shortages has been an added challenge for ABC amid the other difficulties of this year. 

“We struggle to find staff to fill our Direct Care positions,” Johnson stated, “We continue to provide supports to 70% of individuals; Some of this support is at job sites in the community. Additionally we help persons in small cohorts in our buildings and some in individual homes.”

“Daily changes with scheduling is a commonality,” she added. “ABC has a preparedness plan that all staff and individuals follow to ensure the safety of all. Anyone that has an exposure to a positive case quarantines for 14 days. We have had to close program sites to allow for our facilities to be professionally sanitized. Staff absences due to a positive exposure presents scheduling difficulties.”

According to Johnson, a few people have been able to return to their community job sites. Staff and individuals wear masks, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services closely monitors ABC. The agency is required to follow safety instructions. These include length of shifts in the buildings, sizes of cohorts, and quarantine guidlines. ABC also has a very strong safety committee which evaluates each individual situation and determines the best measures to take to keep everyone safe.

She also states ABC continues to get referrals and strives to provide person centered supports which are best suited to each person’s needs.

Johnson attributes the continued flow of positivity which is very characteristic of the agency to both the staff and the persons served. Staff are creative in offering unique experiences for individuals to feel included and actively participate in daily activities.

 In October, the annual recognition banquet was held as a drive-through event. Participants and staff were recognized for their longetivity at ABC by driving through a line to accept their rewards. A carry-out chicken dinner was provided for lunch. The agency vehicles were decorated and paraded throughout the streets of Caledonia.

ABC thanks the community for their continued support. All donations given are much appreciated as they assist with a forward movement in the right direction.

ABC has done an amazing job as it has joined the rest of the world in having to make adjustments to daily routine during a pandemic. Johnson summarizes this with the ABC motto: “Apart or Together, ABC Forever” Anyone who has experienced ABC in any capacity knows how greatly these few words hold it “together” as they hold so very true.

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