Starting wage increases!

Written by: RSI Human Resources


We’re excited to announce that as of 2.01.23 RSI’s Board of Directors has approved a $2.00/hour increase to all Direct Support Positions at RSI.


This effects many different positions at RSI, including: Direct Support Professional (DSP), Team Supervisor, Behavioral Support Supervisor, In-Home Services positions, Employment positions, and Program Coordinator positions.


We hope this gesture by RSI’s Board relays our gratitude to everyone who is doing so much to staff RSI programs and keep the people we support safe and cared for. Thank you, RSI employees!



RSI is Offering Community Connection Services in Duluth and East Central MN

RSI is Offering Community Connection Services in Duluth and East Central MN 

We are excited to announce that we are accepting referrals for our Community Connections service for individuals living in the Duluth area and in east central Minnesota. 

The goal of Community Connections is to develop tools and processes for matching people who receive waivered services with people and groups locally to build sustainable relationships that provide meaningful connections and build natural supports within their community. We believe that those connections can develop into powerful relationships that can benefit the people we support, the people they meet, and the community they live in. 

Community Connection services are delivered in three distinct phases:

  • Discovery 
  • Connection 
  • Sustainability 

About RSI’s Community Connectors 

RSI’s Community Connectors are trained in Person Centered Practices and Person-Centered Thinking. RSI has been providing these services in the Duluth area through a two-year Department of Human Services Innovation grant. We’re now happy to announce that our team has grown and we’ve been able to expand Community Connections to begin to serve individuals living in east central Minnesota.

For more details on our Community Connections service, delivery methods, and billing, click here. 

For information from the DHS Community-Based Services Manual regarding specialist services, click here. 

Please contact us with any questions or to make a referral: [email protected] or (218) 451-1190 



Remembering Jim Houle

Written by: Jon Nelson, RSI Executive Director


We lost a long-time member of the RSI family when Jim Houle passed away on August 20, 2022. Jim was currently serving on the RSI board as Vice President. This was his 19th year on our board.

Jim spent many of his years with RSI as the President of our Board of Directors. He was passionate about RSI’s mission, and he loved to be engaged and see the impact RSI had on the lives of the people we support. Over the years, he had visited every RSI home. He enjoyed visiting and seeing how the decisions the board made affected RSI employees and the people living in the homes. These visits helped strengthen Jim’s advocacy for our services.

It is not by chance the RSI board is so strongly driven by mission and focused on the employees who provide RSI services. Jim’s leadership over the past two decades helped create this focus. Part of his legacy is the board practice of providing year-end bonuses to staff whenever possible. Jim always wanted RSI employees to know the board appreciates their work and understands the challenges of our work.

Jim was also key to starting the practice of having people RSI supports speak at the annual board meeting each year. He loved to hear their stories about the impact RSI had on their lives. He was very proud of all of us, the RSI employees, and thankful to be part of carrying out RSI’s mission.

Jim’s leadership and support on the board was a critical part of RSI’s growth over the past 20 years. He was part of expanding the mission to serving people with mental illness and expanding RSI services beyond St. Louis County. During his tenure, RSI more than tripled in size. This growth in services and people served is another big part of the legacy Jim leaves behind at RSI.

Jim did not want to have a funeral service. His family is honoring his wish. There may be a celebration of his life event planned for the near future. Please keep Jim’s family in your thoughts as they grieve his loss.

Rhine Lake Retreat is Open for the Season

We’re excited to announce that RSI’s Rhine Lake Retreat is open for the summer!

We are currently accepting booking requests from area providers and non-profits as well as private groups for day trips and overnight stays.


About Rhine Lake Retreat:

Rhine Lake Retreat is located in Finlayson, MN and was started in 1984 by Una Miller, with the mission to create a safe, accessible, and affordable recreational setting for people with disabilities. She was inspired by her son, Darin, who has Downs Syndrome and loves the outdoors. In 2020, RSI acquired Rhine Lake Retreat and continues to support that mission.

Learn more about lodging, available activities & classes, accessibility, and more on our website! Click here.

To make a booking request, contact David at (218) 428-6284 or at [email protected] to request dates for a visit to Rhine Lake Retreat.

RSI’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policy



Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Policy  
Business Name:   Residential  

Services of  


MN, Inc. (RSI)  

Date   03/25/2022  
EEO Official  


Julie Kichak   EEO Official  


HR Director  
EEO Official  



218-740-7604   EEO Official  



[email protected]  


This is to affirm our policy of providing equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment in accordance with all applicable laws, directives, and regulations of federal, state, and local governing bodies or agencies.  

Our organization will not discriminate against or harass any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, marital status, familial status, membership or activity in a local human rights commission, or status regarding public assistance. We will take affirmative steps to ensure that all our employment practices are free of discrimination. Such employment practices include, but are not limited to, the following: hiring, upgrading, demotion, transfer, recruitment or recruitment advertising, selection, layoff, disciplinary action, termination, rates of pay or other forms of compensation, and selection for training, including apprenticeship. We will provide reasonable accommodation to applicants and employees with disabilities whenever possible.    

We will evaluate the performance of management and supervisory personnel based on their involvement in achieving these Affirmative Action objectives as well as other established criteria. In addition, all employees are expected to perform their job responsibilities in a manner that supports equal employment opportunities.  I have appointed the above-named EEO Official to manage the Equal Employment  

Opportunity (EEO) program. This person’s responsibilities include monitoring all EEO activities and reporting the effectiveness of the business’ Affirmative Action program as required by law. I will receive and review reports on the progress of the program.  Any employee or applicant may inspect our Affirmative Action Plan and information related to our EEO program during normal business hours. Please contact the EEO Official for further information.  

Any employee or applicant for employment who believes they have been treated in a way that violates this policy should contact either the EEO Official or any other management representative, including me. We will take immediate action to investigate and address allegations of discrimination or harassment confidentially and promptly.     

Jon Nelson, RSI Executive Director

Introducing Ben Gross and Customized Employment

Written by: Jeff Mortimore, RSI Community Connector

Introducing Ben Gross

Ben Gross is a real joy to know, but he is also a bit shy. So when he started expressing his dismay with his job duties, I took note. Ben had been working in a janitorial position for many years and simply was burned out and wanted more. Specifically, he wanted to be around people.

As part of the Exploration process of Customized Employment, we worked together to find the ideal conditions where Ben could thrive in his job. We found that Ben wanted to be a part of a team and a contributing member of an organization. We were also able to ascertain that Ben would work better in a routine situation and with lower demands on mobility.

Our search and networking led us to apply at TJ Maxx. As this was considered a competitive position, Ben worked with me to build a skills-based resume and he was also assisted in completing an application. Ben received an interview and was given a job offer shortly after in the production area. Knowing that Ben would need support and redirection for this position we trained his Program Supervisor to be an employment specialist for Ben. A task analysis was created that would provide a detailed step out of his job duties. The task analysis would be available for any member of Ben’s team to implement if needed.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Customized Employment is the connection with the employer, and this relationship proved to be the game-changer for Ben. The staff and management at TJ Maxx were instrumental in making Ben feel comfortable and supported, and this is what we refer to as “natural supports” something that happens when we express kindness and care. Ben had found his ideal conditions, and, yes, there was some struggle with change. However, when there is this synchronicity between employee, employer, and employment specialist, good things will happen. It’s been nearly two years that Ben has held this position, and he continues to gain new skills in his work and in his friendships.


Contact Jeff:

[email protected]

The Changes Ahead

“You learn from a conglomeration of the incredible past – whatever experience gotten in any way whatsoever.”Bob Dylan


By: Jeff Mortimore, RSI Community Connector

Many of us have seen a great deal of change in the last few months. For some, it’s been a bit too much change! However, I can guarantee you that change is one of the few things we can count on next to death and taxes, as they say. When we’re in the midst of change, it can result in a smorgasbord of emotions. Grief, anger, fear, isolation, and anxiety being just a few of the negative effects on the body and soul. But, change can also evoke excitement, motivation, power, and purpose. Depending on what path you choose to take.

My wife and I are about to head out on one of the first big adventures we have experienced in years. Moving to Duluth nearly four years ago was perhaps one of the greatest adventures in my life. I had to make some personal changes during this transition, leaving behind a life that was lived entirely in the West. I was warned in advance about the bugs, the humidity, the bone-chilling cold, and of course, the hot dishes. However, nothing prepared me for the remarkable beauty of the open waters and the rolling hillside that would become my home.

It wasn’t an easy transition, as I had to leave behind the comforts of a life lived so long in one place. My family, friends, sagebrush, and mountains were all left in the rearview mirror. When I close my eyes, I can still feel the solace of open spaces. However, this is not a soliloquy on sentimentality, but rather about the inspiration that change can enact on the soul if you are open to it.

Change is often seen as a problem, an unnecessary intrusion into our life of comfort. We long for comfort. However, when people are busy making change they don’t often step back just that little bit to think about the process itself.

The beginning of change starts in the pre-contemplation phase. This is a very active phase, where one senses the winds of change, but still doesn’t see the potential threat or problem to themselves.  Pre-contemplators will often underestimate the value of change and overestimate the challenges and problems that come with it. They may also downplay or deny the magnitude of the problem. In other words, change is on the horizon but has yet to show up in a more personal way.

The next stage of change is contemplation. At this stage, people are seeing the bigger picture and paying more attention to those who have succeeded. They are weighing the consequences of changing versus the consequences of not changing. “Can I do this? What will be the cost? How bad is the problem really? Could I get away with not doing anything?” Contemplators can be ambivalent and put off making any necessary changes. However, putting off action can also create an unseen tension in thinking change is possible. This tension can push people back to the pre-contemplation phase of reevaluation or it can result in taking action towards the change.

Eventually, change can evolve to the point where action is necessary to adapt. This is the stage that people are very familiar with because it is the most visible stage. If someone is forced into action without going through the previous stages, they will often struggle and resist. And, as they say, “the real struggle with change is in the resistance.” The action stage can be broken down into stages as well, but generally successful change requires consistency and continued effort. This stage requires a commitment to stay focused and work actively at making changes. Creating new habits requires this effort.

I’m sorry to say that the change process is a never-ending cycle, as much as we tend to resist. I really struggle with the cliché “be in the moment.” But, it is often in the moment where we are truly effective and objective. Yes, there is the issue of goals and dreams. However, when we can adjust to the winds of change and the storms of the moment, we can take action and we can adapt. So, as we head off on our new adventure, I can’t focus on the weather, the possibility of a flat tire, or an overbooked campground.  Instead, I can only prepare my heart for the wonders that change can provide. The open road, the sudden downpour, the chartreuse sunset, and the grasslands of North Dakota. I’ll see you when we get back, and I guarantee you I will be a changed man.


Learn more about Jeff’s work at RSI on our Community Connections page.

Between Routine and Grief

“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”  -Helen Keller


I realized early in life that I am not at my best in the morning hours. I rise most mornings at 5:30 to the sound of birdsong and distant train rumblings far away. It’s a peaceful awakening. I definitely don’t bounce out of bed with a spring in my step, but I do get out of bed with purpose. It’s a time that I find solace and peace, a deliberate act that is now part of my routine.

Experts say that almost 80 % of our day is driven by routine and habit, and when we are forced to change our routine, it results in chaos to our system. Our brain, wired for response and cue, is now at a loss of direction and guidance. I recently experienced this situation first hand, and it totally disrupted my morning routine, one that I had spent years perfecting.

One of the steps of my morning routine is to enjoy my first cup of coffee and retrieve the newspaper from the front steps. There is just something so peaceful about the aroma and tang of a good cup of coffee, coupled with the news the paper provides. The paper also serves to connect me to the community, providing snippets of events, functions, and tidbits that I would otherwise not be aware of. I knew that this pandemic was having a devastating effect on the newsprint industry and that our local paper would not be spared of cutbacks. They even warned the readers how and when it would take place, but somehow I resisted the inevitable. 

Yes, my morning routine was disrupted this month when the Duluth News Tribune was reduced to only delivering a real paper twice weekly. Though they offered readers the option of online membership, things were just not the same. I noticed this some time ago. Holding a Kindle or smartphone is NOT the same as holding a book with a spine and pages. Now, before you accuse me of whining into my coffee, hear me out, please. I am grieving! It’s not just the fact that I don’t have my paper in my study with my coffee, but that this change signifies the end of an era. I either have to change my routine or replace it with something else. 

This pandemic crisis has meant that many of our routines have changed on a global scale. Sometimes grief is the result. It hurts when something important has been taken from us. The result is always the same, we feel bereft and confused. Routine helps us cope with change, and more importantly, it helps to reduce stress levels. When your life is organized and set in a routine, you know exactly what to expect.  This takes the guessing out of the equation, alleviating the symptoms of anxiety. Our brain craves routine, and so does our entire limbic system.

It appears that we will most likely continue to see change and disruption to our routines in the coming days and months. Knowing that, how do we prepare our mindset for the uncertainty ahead? I have shared in some of my past writings that my new routine is meditation and mindfulness. It has replaced my morning newspaper. So how do we replace those lost routines?       

Here are but a few suggestions to consider:                                                                                                                 

1) Find humor in the situation. Try not to take yourself or the situation so seriously. This mindset can provide some degree of levity and lightness to your heavy load. What’s interesting about humor is that it can be a shared experience and it helps in the healing process.  

 2) Talk about the problems more than the feelings. We all have feelings and have been taught to “suck it up,” but research has shown that continually talking about our negative emotions can actually hinder our healing process. I’m not saying to dismiss your feelings, but consider spending more time actively identifying the problem and zero in on the solution.                                                           

3) Focus on your values instead of your fears. Reminding ourselves of what’s important to us; family, friends, faith, achievements, great music, artistic expression, connectedness, and so on can create a surprisingly effective buffer against whatever troubles may be ailing us.

I’ve heard it said that our post-pandemic world will not look nearly like our pre-pandemic world, and I wonder if many of us remain paralyzed by this thought. The first stage of grief is paralysis, a sudden lack of options, and the confusion of disruption. However, the important thing in dealing with grief is understanding your emotions and your capacity to overcome and even flourish in the days ahead.


Learn more about Jeff’s work at RSI on our Community Connections page.