As we transition into a new year, we often spend time thinking about the past and looking forward to the year to come. That is never as true as it is this year for Home and Community Options. Home and Community Options is looking forward to celebrating the careers of three amazing women that will be retiring from HCO over the course of the next year: Paula Krage, Kathy Murck, and Mary Jansen. As current members of our Management team with a long history of supporting individuals with disabilities, these irreplaceable women have helped mold Home and Community Options into the strong agency it is today.
Paula Krage started working for HCO in 1983. For the past 37 years, she has been a long-time advocate for people with developmental disabilities. She has been instrumental in supporting individuals as they build self-advocacy skills through the Grassroots Advocacy Task Force. Paula is also known for her talents as a mentor. Over the years, she has supervised countless student interns and employees across all levels of our agency as they learn, gain new abilities, and work to achieve their career goals. Paula’s advisory skills, charisma, and natural ability to help those we serve find their voice will be greatly missed when she leaves us in March.
Kathy Murck has dedicated the past 32 years to the HCO mission. Since 1988, Kathy has supported hundreds of individuals gain independence, and one of her greatest passions has been helping individuals live independently in their own homes. She has been known for building strong teams, providing quality services using person-centered approaches, and has been a key leader on numerous HCO committees. When Kathy leaves us this summer, we will greatly miss her unparalleled work ethic, quiet consistency, and willingness to take on new challenges.
Mary Jansen has been a part of HCO team longer than any other employee. Retiring this fall with 45 years of supporting the mission and vision of HCO, Mary has been a key leader in shaping how our services have grown and changed over our agency’s history since 1976. She has been an active part in bringing people back to the Winona community from institutions, transitioning individuals from adult foster care to independent apartment living, helping families get the services their children need in family resource homes, and enhancing independent living with remote monitoring. Mary’s longstanding knowledge of disability services, leadership skills, and rich sense of humor will be missed by both employees and those we serve across all programs within our agency.
Naturally, these transitions are met with mixed emotions. We are saddened to have these longtime colleagues retire from the agency. They have grown to be close confidants, friends, and even members of our families over the years. Paula, Kathy, and Mary will always be an important part of HCO’s history, and we know that our agency would not be what it is today without their contributions.
Yet, with change also comes opportunity. Three years ago, the HCO Management Team established a training curriculum to begin mentoring up-and-coming leaders throughout our organization. With 27 members currently comprising our leadership team, eighteen have been with HCO for over 10 years (ten of which have been with HCO for over 20 years). With a strong mix of experience and new, fresh ideas, we are excited to continue to cultivate these amazing employees as they help grow, change, and shape HCO for future generations.
All of us at HCO wish Paula, Kathy, and Mary our heartfelt congratulations as they each begin the next exciting chapter of their lives. In the coming weeks and months, we hope you will join us as we share more about these remarkable women and how they have helped change the way that the Winona community has embraced individuals of all abilities.