Sally and Angie Westre from Alee Services met with us to discuss their recently opened expansion in Clarkfield. Angie has built up locations already over the last five years in Waseca, Montgomery, and Faribault.
Alee Services helps serve people with a wide array of develpmental disabilities and mental health. The way it works is a family applies for a case manager with the county. After that, the case manager works on setting up the services needed, hypothetically referring the case to Alee Services. Alee Services will look at the paperwork and see if they think they can meet the patient's needs.
The various services offered include independent living services, respite, semi-independent living, and supported living services. Basically they follow and implement the programs from the case plan, teaching them life and coping skills and helping them build independence.
They work with clients all over the spectrum regarding level of needs. From more advanced skills like cooking and finances, down to basics like showering and eating. Some clients live with their parents, some live on their own. Angie mentioned that some clients have even started families of their own. They also work with all ages. They currently have clients as young as five and as old as 65.
Another huge aspect they try to build is socialization and community involvement. They do what they can to bring clients to events in the community. It helps immensely to have peers and friends, and it's enjoyable for the workers to see relationships grow.
The program Angie studied in school was called Community Support for People with Disabilities, if a person were to study it now, the program is called Community Social Services. "There's nothing like a small town community, everyone supports each other, and are so tight knit."
Why Clarkfield? Sally is Angie's mom, and she lives in Clarkfield. Clarkfield is also centrally located in Yellow Medicine County. They didn't want to throw Sally in over her head starting out. She will be directing the Clarkfield site. They already have four clients being served, two from Canby, one from Granite, and one from Montevideo. After building up clients, they discussed expanding to Chippewa County. Their overall goal is to fill some of the gaps in the need for mental health services in rural areas.
They expressed a lot of gratitude for the work the case managers do. The case managers are under-thanked. "People tend to assume it's their job, but they really do go above and beyond to get people the help they need."
Going above and beyond also describes Alee's company culture. They have very little turnover. They give clients their personal cell phone numbers, and are on call 24-7, for problems big and small. "We want to be there for them. I think our families see that, and so do the case managers."
Alee does what they can to match personalities between staff and clients. "Male staff are harder to come by, but we try to match people with what they want." They had a former construction worker join the staff, and his schedule quickly filled up, helping the clients with woodworking projects, fishing, sports, and other manly adventures.
"We're thankful to have the opportunity to start in Yellow Medicine County, and them accepting us as a new provider."