The County Road F home is home to four great ladies. Three have lived together for many years. Jeanne Ottman is the home’s Program Manager. She has an extensive background working with people with autism and has worked in the field for 35 years. She worked for other group homes and PAI (a day program) for 10 years, where she met Sandy, one of the ladies who resides at County Road F. “When I learned of an opening at NER I applied and got the job here,” Jeanne says. “I was super excited to see Sandy was here! We were already friends.”
Meet the County Road F team:
Erin has worked here the longest—11 years—and is one of the “weekend gals.” Erin has worked at many homes for NER and was the Program Manager and live-in for this house at one time. Erin knows the ladies (and their history) the best of anyone. The ladies love her cooking and have favorite dishes that they like her to make, especially chili. “They consider her a friend and confidant and they know she cares about them,” Jeanne says. “Her mom is also close with them and sends them cards during the holidays.” Erin picks up holidays and plans wonderful holiday celebrations with great meals, activities, and BBQs.
Hinda is another weekend staff and has worked at NER for seven years. She also helps at NER’s Gramsie home. Jeanne says Hinda is 100% reliable. “She has never called in—even when her car died.” She also almost always says “yes” when asked to pick up a shift. The ladies like to go thrift store shopping with Hinda on Fridays and on the weekends. “Hinda knows the ladies well and has a calm disposition, which is very important on long weekends,” Jeanne says.
Denise R. is the Lead staff and live-in and has been part of the team for five years. “She is absolutely my right-hand person,” Jeanne says. “Denise helps with shopping, finances, gassing and washing the van, cleaning and organizing, and writing out the calendar. “The guardians all like talking with her. She fills them in on what the ladies are up to,” Jeanne says. The ladies see her as a caring person to talk with who will help them problem solve various situations. Denise is a great cook and likes to try new recipes. Her dog, Toto, and cat, Lynx, work when she does. “Their unconditional love means so much to the ladies,” Jeanne says.
Beatta (Bea) ” . . . has been working with us for three years,” says Jeanne. “She is a childhood friend of mine. She saw my struggles with staffing and wanted to help. She picks up three shifts a week and goes on additional appointments or outings with the ladies.” Bea worked hard getting the home’s gardens ready and got the ladies excited for gardening. “We have many garden areas in the yard, and she makes fantastic meals with our garden bounty. She has made the ladies vegetable eaters.” Bea makes sure the ladies have everything they need for a successful outing to Market Fest (in White Bear Lake), shopping, or checking out new park trails.
Camryn has worked at the home for nearly three years and currently works as a float. “Camryn was a quick learner and has a lot of enthusiasm for the job,” Jeanne says. “She enjoys taking the ladies shopping and out to eat. They all like 1:1 outings with her. She is fun for them to have around as she jokes and talks with them.” Camryn is also very helpful with technology questions they might have about their iPads, and she introduces them to new apps, music, and games. (Camryn has recently accepted the Lead role at our Gramsie home. “They are lucky to have her!” Jeanne says.)
Denise M. joined the home eight months ago. “She used to work here years ago,” Jeanne says. “She called one day to ask about taking the ladies out as a volunteer. I suggested she just apply and work a shift as the training is not much more than volunteer training. On Tuesdays I can count on her to manage things so I can go to appointments, take care of the shopping, and do paperwork.” Denise takes the ladies to fun events she finds like Saints and Twins games. She also brings fresh eggs in from her chickens. “Denise is a good advocate for the ladies and makes sure that they do things they like and want to do,” Jeanne says.
Let’s meet the County Road F ladies!
Sandra (Sandy) – Sandy has called County Road F home for 23 years. “Sandy is non-verbal, but very fluent with her communication book and also signs—some are her own version,” Jeanne says. Sandy is friendly with everyone she meets. She has a wide smile and open arms. “She is glad that hugs are back after having to do fist bumps during COVID,” Jeanne says. “In the community, cashiers and wait staff adore her. She is very polite and will sign ‘Thank you’ and give a thumbs-up for good food or service.” Sandy is a HUGE Elvis fan. Her family threw a surprise birthday party for her with an Elvis impersonator, whom she fell in love with (we think the feeling was mutual). She likes to watch the Food Network—Gordon Ramsey is her favorite. “She wants him to come to the house,” Jeanne says. “She laughed when I said I did not want Gordon Ramsey yelling at me in the County Road F kitchen.”
Virjean – Virjean has resided at County Road F since 2000. Although she is retired now, she used to work at Accord. Now she participates in a remote day services program. She loves to play games, exercise, and play music, all on Google Meets. Although her brothers live far away, she keeps in contact with them through calls and letters. A huge Vikings fan, Virjean took part in a Hammer Travel trip to Vikings Spring Training Camp. “She also enjoys being active and has a YMCA membership,” Jeanne says. “She loves to shop and get out—almost every day.” At home, Virjean likes crafts such as painting and coloring and does workbooks with math and reading in them. “Virjean loves policemen,” Jeanne says. “Staff went with her to a Coffee and Donuts with Cops event here in White Bear Lake and she took photos with all the officers on her iPad.”
Linda – Linda moved to County Road F in 2011. “She is very shy at first but will talk your ear off once she knows you,” Jeanne says. Linda works part time at Wedding Day Jewelers as a cleaner and also attends a day program at Kaposia part time. She loves to go bowling on Fridays. At home, Linda likes to do puzzles, watch DVDs, color, paint, cook, and help with cleaning—which she’s very good at. “I might ask her to wipe the counter down and she will pull out the microwave and wipe behind it and the toaster,” Jeanne says. Linda enjoys going shopping and on overnights with her niece and guardian, Julie, and her family. She is a huge Disney princess fan and loves John Denver and can sing almost all his songs. Linda also likes to pick the green beans growing on the chain-link fence. “The next-door neighbor will poke them through the fence for her,” says Jeanne.
Melissa (Missy) – Missy is the newbie to the home, having moved in just four years ago. While she is significantly younger than the other ladies, they are very happy having her there and she has adjusted well and likes where she lives. Missy is very schedule oriented. “She makes up her own calendar every month,” Jeanne says. She loves her tablet and is very proficient at using it. She likes Digimon and is a regular customer at Battleground Café nearby where she buys Digimon cards. “Missy’s mom visits weekly and the ladies all like to visit with her,” Jeanne says. “We are all entertained by Missy’s one-liners, repeated words from favorite shows, and her exceptional singing voice.”
As a group, the ladies like going to the mall, festivals, and out to eat. They also love bonfires and dipping their feet in the small pool in the backyard. “They all like to dance and are fans of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and most any Disney movie,” Jeanne says. “They also like to bake and look up new recipes and have a great interest in our gardens. They help with planting, weeding, and harvesting. They also look forward to and plan 1:1 outings with our volunteer, Mary. She takes each one out once a month.”
What makes this home special?
“The ladies,” Jeanne says. “Linda calls her housemates her sisters and they really are like sisters. They enjoy decorating for the holidays, helping with chores around the house, and are all concerned about our lives (as staff) and their housemates’ lives, just like a family.”
Thank you to our County Road F home staff for everything you do to help the people we support live life to the fullest.