Episcopal Group Homes: A Ministry of Care

Jeremy Wendt, Executive Director, EGH

Episcopal Group Homes: A Ministry of Care

In the late ‘70s in Minnesota, people with developmental disabilities had far fewer housing options than they had today. Often, these individuals lived with their families, or lived in large facilities that many families wished to avoid.

Several families from St Martin’s by-the-Lake in Minnetonka Beach knew someone in this challenging situation, and set about doing something about it. St Martin’s Reverend Ed Eilertsen heard about the ideas of group homes during his time in California. A group of St Martin’s families pooled resources, ideas, sweat equity, and financial investment into a non-profit organization that would be known as Episcopal Group Homes (EGH). Rev Eilertsen’s wife Judy, along with persons like Rody Heffelfinger Hall, Phil Goan, and Bob and Betty Galloway helped purchase a home in Wayzata where EGH services began. Shortly thereafter, they purchased a fourplex apartment building where EGH still serves people today.

Rev Eilertsen believed that “bigger isn’t necessarily better” and EGH has grown only by finding new opportunities to serve based in the person-centered philosophy established at EGH’s foundation. Since then, EGH serves individuals within three group homes and the Wayzata apartment building. However, most of the people EGH serves live in homes of their own or with their families.

Just as the group home model was seen as an improvement over larger facilities in the time of EGH’s infancy, current trends serving people with disabilities favor individuals receiving services wherever they choose to live. This follows the philosophy of person-centered planning, which EGH embraces. Instead of one or two staff supporting 4-12 individuals, people often receive one-on-one personal supports. This promotes choice, dignity, and inclusion for support recipients.

However, this person-centered approach does necessitate higher numbers of capable support personnel, and we’ve all heard how all human service fields are experiencing critical shortages of employees. We at EGH are no exception. We have a core group of long-standing dedicated employees, but we’re always looking for the next great Direct Support professional.

We’re proud of our history being born within an ECMN congregation. We consider it part of our mission to uphold the tenets of service and opportunity that our founders established. Should anyone within the ECMN parishes want more information, or if you or anyone you know may be interested in learning about supporting our individuals, we would love to hear from you. I’d be happy to visit any parish interested in hearing more about EGH, our story, or ways you can help.

Jeremy Wendt
Executive Director
Episcopal Group Homes, Inc