Matthew Stolle’s article “Disability community: Worker shortage is a crisis” published on Monday, Feb. 4, has opened a door to an outpouring of support from our local community. We are grateful for your willingness to bring a spotlight to this important topic, and we are eager to continue the conversation to give the community more information.

As outlined in the article, the funding cuts have certainly contributed to a long-term and ongoing staffing shortage due to our inability to offer competitive wages. Yet, each and every day, we are dedicated to upholding our commitments to the individuals who choose to work and live with us. Ability Building Center (ABC) and Hiawatha Homes (HH) are among a network of dedicated providers in Rochester who offer a wide array of quality support services. Collectively, ABC and HH support more than 720 individuals in Olmsted County with a combined 106 years of experience. It is imperative to continue this mission of moving forward alongside individuals with disabilities in our community.

This is a challenging time, but commitment, dedication and teamwork have taken the lead. Quality services are being delivered with dignity and respect; however, the number of open hours absorbed by this dedicated team is not sustainable.

This is the case for providers all over the state of Minnesota, so we are coming together to share our voices during this legislative session. We are supporting the adoption of the 2019 Best Life Alliance Legislation: Senate File 06 and House File 179. This legislation implements a Competitive Workforce Factor to address a 17 percent wage disparity between disability services wages and wages of occupations competing for the same workers. In addition, it adjusts the timing of the scheduled rate adjustments to every two years to better keep pace with actual economic conditions.

Many of you have asked, “how can we help?” Join us!

• Contact your legislators.

• Attend the ARC SE MN Disability Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 19.

• Attend the ARRM/MOHR Disability Services Day at the Capitol on Tuesday, March 12.

• Join our team in spreading the word.

Please help Minnesota uphold its commitment to people with disabilities and the people who support them. We need your help to keep these services strong and keep people with disabilities actively involved in our community. To learn more, we invite you to reach out via phone, email, or Facebook.

With the right set of support and development, all of us have the ability to give back to the community in some way. This participation creates a winning solution for our whole community. Together, our voices can make a difference.

Crystal Landherr is director of development and communications for the Hiawatha Homes Foundation. Bruce Remme is the executive director of the Ability Building Center.

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