Donations support programs and services that change the lives of adults with disabilities through employment and community integration.

East Suburban Resources (ESR) believes everyone has the right to be employed and to fully participate in all their communities have to offer. To that end, the nonprofit agency, located in Washington County, nurtures individuals with unique support needs in overcoming obstacles to employment and the community.

Consider Jonathan's story. Jonathan is painfully shy and very quiet. Yet he has become a fixture at the Woodbury bakery where he has worked for more than five years. He packages baked goods, keeps dishes and floors clean, and even waits on and speaks to customers as he helps run the cash register.

"ESR and this job brought Jonathan out of his shell," according to his stepfather, Steve. "He almost never initiated a conversation with anyone before. Now we hear him talking to a variety of people, whether he knows them or not. It's been a fun thing to watch."

ESR works with area businesses to provide a variety of job opportunities that match the skills and interests of the individuals it serves. More than half the 345 individuals in ESR's service have jobs in the community, where they forge relationships with coworkers, earn an income and experience the sense of pride that comes with having a job.

It was a challenge finding a job for Ben and Chad. Neither of them likes to sit still. Fortunately, they don't have to as employees of ESR's Chore Services. This program pairs adults with developmental disabilities and low-income seniors in the community who need a little help to remain independent in their homes. As Chore Services employees, Ben and Chad mow lawns and help with yard work, or shovel snow to ensure seniors' safety during cold weather. The program brings together two very different, and often isolated, populations in a situation that provides pride and a feeling of belonging to all involved.

ESR's service menu also offers opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities to work on light assembly, packaging and mailing projects for area businesses in its community program sites in Cottage Grove, Forest Lake and Stillwater. These in-house opportunities provide another employment option for those who may not wish to work in the community.

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