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Area organization helps people with disabilities

Antwan Dixon, left, and Kalix staff member Lane Banister throw a shot put.

“Our main role is to help people live their daily life like everyone else,” said Borgi Beeler, CEO of Kalix, a nonprofit organization supporting the developmentally disabled.

Headquartered in Minot, the organization was formerly known as Minot Vocational Adjustment Workshop.

Kalix started in the 1960s as the Minot School for the Mentally Handicapped, offering daily services to adolescents. A decade later, the focus shifted toward adults, and a residential program was started.

By the 1980s, the organization began manufacturing buttons and baking cookies. At that time, they became a licensed North Dakota provider, a federal contractor at Minot Air Force Base and gained accreditation by the Council on Quality and Leadership.

This past decade, Kalix expanded its residential options in Minot and Belcourt.

Maintenance crew member Angel Valdez bakes for Kalix.

Kalix offers a community program in which staff members visit developmentally disabled people in their apartments and provide assistance with whatever each person needs.

“We help with daily living skills, such as reminders to take a shower and get ready for the day. We also help with transportation to and from work and help them pay bills,” said Kari Merkel, Direct Support staff member for the Kalix Community Program.

There are also those in the program who function independently and do things on their own.

“In those situations, we are just in the background,” Merkel said.

Kalix provides residential group homes, where up to 12 individuals live at a time. While living in the home, they are supported with everything they need to continue functioning in everyday life.

Kalix resident Brian Marcil sings karaoke in the backyard.

“We work on meal preparation and staying in contact with friends and family, but community activities are probably our biggest thing. We organize trips, whether it’s going to concerts, golfing or bowling. We do a lot of fun things,” said Lane Banister, residential coordinator for Kalix.

Each person in the program has an individualized plan. The team leader decides what kind of support each individual person needs to live the life they want to live.

“We just make it happen. Whatever goes on in the person’s life, we’re here to help them out,” Beeler said.

Kalix helps these individuals find employment as well.

The organization has several work sites at which individuals can be employed working for Kalix, and it provides assistance in finding jobs in the community. The type of job depends on each person’s interests and skills.

“Our entire program is based around what a person is interested in. We’re not here to impose our will on them. We try to adapt to each individual,” Beeler said.

Kalix has a kitchen where cookies of all different flavors are created. For 30 years now, Kalix has employed two or three of the residents at a time in the kitchen to help make the cookies to sell to the public.

Many of the residents also volunteer in the community with organizations such as the Salvation Army and Meals on Wheels.

“They like to volunteer for causes that they feel are important to them,” Banister said. “Some of the people I support make blankets and dog toys. Others volunteer at their church, the Special Olympics and the soup kitchen. One of our residents packages bread for food pantries.”

The program is also involved in shredding used classified documents in Minot.

“We had a full service recycling center open from 1994-2020. But at this time we only do shredding. We have a number of locations around Minot where we pick up recycling bins once or twice a week, depending on the volume,” Beeler said.

Kalix accepts materials for shredding that are dropped off at its Minot location every Wednesday afternoon.

As of 2020, the only products accepted and processed at the Kalix recycling center are confidential documents and mixed office paper.

Minot is the headquarters of Kalix but it also has programs in Rolla and Belcourt. Additionally, it has work contracts at both Minot and Grand Forks Air Force bases.

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