Elm Homes

History of Elm Homes

In 1979, the atmosphere in Minnesota and the nation regarding people with disabilities was changing. People who had disabilities were most commonly placed in institutions that lacked the individualized, person-centered supports, which could propel them to live their lives independently.

It was during this time that Gene and Bonnie Miller were inspired to open their first facility for the care of the developmentally disabled in Waseca, Mn. In 1979, ELM Homes was born. It would be named by using Eugene Lorenz Miller's initials. Their first Intermediate Care Facility for people with Mental Retardation (ICFMR) was called, Larry James Home after a friend's brother who had passed away.

Even though services for the handicapped were relatively new during this time, that didn't mean the Millers didn't have experience in taking care of people. In the early 1970's they opened ELM Care Daycare in Waseca, providing opportunities for parents to go to work while leaving their children under the watchful eye of the Millers and their employees. Additionally, through the years the Millers raised five daughters along with providing a home for over 30 foster children.

Throughout the 80's the State of Minnesota de-institutionalized the developmentally disabled and the need for residential providers grew. By 1988 ELM Homes now consisted of three ICFMR facilities and two homes with Supervised Living Services (SLS). SLS's allow adults and children an opportunity to live in a home environment and give them the opportunity at independence and access to the community.

Even though the state was opening up opportunities for the handicapped, the expansion of homes didn't come easily. Community members often had the preconceived notion that the mentally handicapped belonged in institutions and would have an adverse effect on their neighborhood. The Millers continually advocated for people with disabilities, appearing before City Councils, community leaders, and speaking to their neighbors, educating them of the positive potential of people with disabilities. Because of their dedication and advocacy for the handicapped, ELM Homes now consists of over 65 locations in towns throughout south central Minnesota.

ELM Homes takes pride in aiding individuals in their desire to live their life with as much normalcy as the everyday person. Homes are located in residential neighborhoods, rural areas, and in their own homes with in-home services. The homes are well maintained and employees and the individuals work together to ensure an independent living environment. ELM Homes also provides In – Home and Semi Independent living situations to people, providing services to over 30 individuals in their home environment that allow the individual to attain their goals for lasting independence.

As trends and feelings towards ICFMRs were changing, so did ELM Homes. ICFMRs were felt to be caring for too many individuals and facilities were too institutional. In 2002, ELM Homes closed it's first ICFMR and moved individuals into SLS homes. Making these individuals' environments more home-like, helped ELM Homes reach our goal of helping increasing normalcy and inclusion into the community. ELM Homes closed its last ICFMR in December of 2011 and eight more individuals were given the opportunity to a more home-like environment.

Staying abreast of the current trends and issues facing people with disabilities, ELM Homes focused on the vocational and employment challenges facing the community it served. ELM Supported Employment Services was initiated in 2005 to allow people with disabilities to obtain competitive employment within the communities they live in. ELM SES allows people with disabilities to use their skills in various, competitive work environments. By using individual work assessments ELM consumers have the opportunity to work in cleaning services, maintenance, restaurant services, and other various employment opportunities in the communities they live. We now serve 30 individuals in SES and this is growing daily.

It has been Elm Homes' mission throughout it's history to provide quality service, by not only adapting to the times, but also by leading the industry in promoting and advocating for individuals rights and self-reliance. ELM Homes' goal is the same as the people requiring services: An independent living environment, inclusion in society, and independence. ELM Homes will continue to change, grow and adapt as new requests and services are identified.