Staff members and clients from Epic Enterprise Inc. in Dundas participated in a rally on March 4 at the State Capitol in support of a 5 percent rate increase for Minnesota caregivers working for home and community agencies that help those with disabilities.
Caregivers are seeking a raise to compensate them for their work, as 2013 marked the fifth year in a row that providers of services for the elderly and disabled did not receive rate increases to keep up with rising costs.
To have their request for fair compensation heard, supporters of the 5 percent campaign met with legislators and conducted a rally. Epic added its voice to the cause when executive director Linda Hibbard, personal support assistant Michelle Sticken and recipients of Epic’s services — Phil Brown, Tom Brown, Bob Hegner and Nathan Kohn — all made the trip to St. Paul to lend support to the campaign.
The Epic coalition had the opportunity to express their thoughts about the current funding situation when they met with legislators in their offices, including Rep. David Bly (District 20B) and Sen. Kevin Dahle (District 20B). Clients shared their personal experiences involving the services they receive and how it impacts the quality of their lives.
Following their meetings, Epic representatives — donning buttons made at Epic and the color blue to represent the 5 percent campaign — gathered for the rally in the rotunda, which was filled on all levels with hundreds of other caregivers and recipients of government funded services.
The crowd, composed of different human services organizations and individuals served by them, was energized by their unified goal. The campaign provided several speakers throughout the rally and Epic showed its support by waving blue flags, clapping, cheering and shouting, “5 percent.”
Along with other supporters, they were successful in calling attention to the desire to continue receiving adequate funding for quality care that will allow people with disabilities to continue experiencing independence and the opportunity to be successful participants in their communities.