This July, HCO Program Services Director, Kathy Murck, retired from Home and Community Options. Kathy has been dedicated to the mission of HCO and those we serve for over 30 years. During her time with us, she has provided steady and consistent guidance for both coworkers and those we serve.

When Kathy Murck initially came to Winona, she attended Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and received a degree in statistics.  However, she was finding it hard to settle down to a job in her field after graduation, so she decided to pursue another degree – this one in Social Work – from Winona State University.

Kathy first heard about the then-fledgling agency of Home and Community Options in 1988. She didn’t know anything about supporting individuals with developmental disabilities at the time, but when she applied for (and was offered) a job working part-time at HCO, she took it. The agency was rapidly growing and changing at the time, and Kathy started out supporting 10 individuals at one of HCO’s programs. “There was so much to learn. It was all new to me. The individuals taught me a great deal and made me a better person.”

In September of 2015, Kathy took on the role of Director of Program Services, where she was able to use her skills to build strong teams within HCO.  She is very knowledgeable about services available for individuals with Developmental Disabilities and she is best known for her ability to understand and build independence for individuals living semi-independently in the community. Her quiet, consistent manner and her ability to turn difficult situations from challenges into opportunities have made Kathy an indescribable asset to her teams and those she’s supported throughout all levels of our organization.

Kathy has also been active in several committees over the years, including the Grassroots Advocacy Task Force.  The task force provides opportunities for supported individuals (and staff) to learn about the legislature’s involvement in creating the regulations that determine their care. She has assisted individuals to learn about their rights and responsibilities as voters, and regularly assisted groups going to the Minnesota Capitol to share their thoughts with local legislators.

While working at Home and Community Options, what Kathy has enjoyed the most is “seeing people grow and gain independence… trying new experiences, and becoming valued members of their community.”

Though she is looking forward to spending time with her husband and family, working in the garden, reading, and traveling during retirement, HCO will continue to hold a special place in Kathy’s heart.  Looking back on her time with HCO, she shared, “I thought the part-time position would provide me valuable experience. I didn’t know I would stay after receiving my Social Work degree, but I found the work to be a natural fit and rewarding.  It’s been a wonderful place to work, with a close-knit group of co-workers. We look out for each other and also have fun together. Here, I found a home.”

Thank you, Kathy, for the years of dedication you’ve shown to HCO and in supporting individuals of all abilities in our community. You will be greatly missed.