LGBTQIA+ History on Hennepin


Tim G., wearing a gray shirt, a purple tie, a name tag on a lanyard, standing outside, with with the colorful bird design Wingspan logo superimposed over the left corner of the image.

Tim G., Wingspan Rainbow Support Group Member. Photo courtesy of Wingspan.

Wingspan Life Resources opened in 1973 as St. Ann’s Residence, under the auspices of Catholic Charities. St. Ann’s was a facility that was home to 30 women with developmental disabilities. In 1977, St. Ann’s expanded with the addition of a group home for six women in Hennepin County.

A major step in developing today’s organization came in 1987 when the organization opened six, four-person waiver homes for both men and women with developmental disabilities in Ramsey County. Waivers are funds provided by governmental bodies to care for people who cannot live independently. Another central turning point came in 1992 when St. Ann’s and Catholic Charities ended their affiliation. St. Ann’s became a separate nonprofit organization called St. Ann’s Residential Services. Reflecting the shift in its delivery of services from large residences to single-family homes, in 1993, the 30-person facility closed. St. Ann’s opened an additional seven residential homes in Hennepin County to serve women. In 2000, it changed its name to Wingspan Life Resources to more accurately reflect expanded services to meet new needs and serve new populations.

Wingspan has continued to grow over the years. Today, Wingspan provides services to over 100 people with developmental disabilities in 26 residential homes throughout the Twin Cities. In 2001, Wingspan began providing in-home services to people with developmental disabilities. Their in-home program currently serves approximately 50 people. Their newest program, Three Directions, is an employment and alternative services program that operates in collaboration with Walker Methodist Residences. The program offers individually designed services for adults of all ages seeking retirement activity, volunteerism or paid employment.

They are committed to the highest standards of caring for residents, stewarding donations and providing a good working environment for the staff that cares for residents. In 2013 they received accreditation by the Charities Review Council, which establishes accountability standards to assure donors that funds are well spent.

Wingspan is recognized as a “Top-Rated Nonprofit” on the Great NonProfits list. Its mission is to inspire and inform donors and volunteers, enable nonprofits to show their impact and promote greater feedback and transparency. Wingspan prioritizes retaining employees to support the bonds developed with the residents. Wingspan has twice received recognition as one of “Top 100 Workplaces” by the Star Tribune newspaper.

See all featured leaders for LGBTQIA+ History on Hennepin.