For nearly 20 years Kowalski's has proudly partnered with Merrick, Inc., a nonprofit organization that offers life enrichment activities and employment support to over 375 adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the Twin Cities. Clients choose Merrick for adult day and memory care activities, job training, skill development and supported employment.
Today 28 Merrick clients are employed at six of Kowalski's 11 Twin Cities markets: White Bear Lake, Grand Avenue, Shoreview, Oak Park Heights, Woodbury and Eagan (disabled adults are employed at other locations through other partners). At the markets, clients from Merrick form relationships with Kowalski’s staff and guests while bagging groceries, maintaining coffee shops, stocking shelves and working behind the scenes in the delis and kitchens.
Merrick's philosophy is that all people are on an individual journey to lead a life they desire. Working one-on-one with clients, Merrick's staff aims to understand each individual's path as suggested by their unique passions, values, gifts, interests, skills and preferences. With the support of staff, self-discovery and assessment activities, clients at Merrick increase their opportunities for community inclusion and participation, social relationships and skill-building, which all offer a life of opportunity, well-being, independence and societal contribution.
"Family-owned Kowalski’s Markets was one of the first grocers in the state of Minnesota to recognize the value added to their business when employing people with disabilities," said Karen Herrera, development and communications director for Merrick. "Kowalski's management has always had full confidence in the clients' abilities and have never viewed their disabilities as a limitation."
"Merrick's mission of empowering adults with disabilities through vocational and social opportunities is in alignment with Kowalski's values as a civic business," Kowalski's CEO Kris Kowalski Christiansen says. "Through person-centered planning, the self-discovery process and self-advocacy activities, Merrick guides their clients to 'find meaningful jobs, actively engage in their communities, build relationships, enhance personal skills and lead more self-determined lives.' This is the opportunity we offer to all of our employees."
Merrick, Inc., is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. You can help support the mission of Merrick and learn more about their programs, services, business solutions and volunteer opportunities as well as learn how to donate to support their life enrichment and employment support programs at www.merrickinc.org.