Tasks Unlimited formed on June 2, 1970 in response to Dr. George W. Fairweather’s success at creating an alternative approach to mental illness hospitalization, now known as the Fairweather Model. The not-for-profit corporation began assisting the in-hospital training of potential new lodge groups at Anoka State Hospital. After months of training and support from Dr. Fairweather’s team, Tasks Unlimited opened its first lodge on October 18, 1970. The “Janitorial Aces” were trained and ready to operate their own commercial cleaning business.
The program continued to grow. In the next year, Tasks Unlimited opened two more lodges and established a formal relationship with the Minnesota Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. By the end of the 1970s, all lodges had their own contracts and no longer depended on sub-contracting. By our tenth anniversary, Tasks Unlimited supported 48 residents in five lodges.
In the early 1980s, Tasks Unlimited created its first community-based training facility: the Lodge Training Program. The next year, the organization opened its doors to people who had stable housing by forming the JOBS Program. Eventually, Tasks Unlimited broke into subsidiaries and Tasks Unlimited Building Services formed. With the creation of the Building Services subsidiary, Tasks Unlimited achieved its first certification through the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) as a community rehabilitation facility. After some time, all Lodge and JOBS program participants became employees of Tasks Unlimited Building Services. By 1986, Tasks Unlimited Building Services ranked first in client earnings per week and held the honor for nearly twenty years. Later the same year, the Jobs Training Program opened to better prepare program participants for working with Building Services.
The 1990s saw a diversification in employment and new business opportunities for Tasks Unlimited. Rehab² opened as a remodeling services business and expanded its offerings to include mailroom management with the Army Corps of Engineers.
The new millennium brought more program opportunities as well. A wellness program was offered to employees of Tasks Unlimited Building Services which helped individuals to develop health goals to control stress, manage weight, reduce smoking, etc. Our recreation program was also introduced, which offers a variety of activities for clients to take advantage of. Some popular outings include day-trips to Duluth and the MN State Fair! On the mental health front, Tasks Unlimited Mental Health Services became the first official Adult Rehabilitation Mental Health Services provider in Hennepin County. Finally, as a way to break stigmas and encourage mental health advocacy, Tasks Unlimited brought mental health to the stage in an anthology of mental health stories and a Fringe Festival production, both entitled Lodge Magic.
Capitalizing on the innovative spirit of the organization, Tasks Unlimited continued to diversify its offerings by opening Oakwood Residence in 2003, a place specifically designed for women with mental illness and their children. In 2007, the organization developed Interlachen Lodge—a lodge training program designed for people with felony convictions that stemmed from untreated mental illness. Most recently in December of 2012, Tasks Unlimited made strides towards addressing its aging client base by opening the organization’s first Senior Lodge.
Currently, Tasks Unlimited serves nearly 300 clients. We have 21 lodges around the Twin Cities metro area and have 14 contracts, both federal and county, in Minneapolis and St. Paul. With two different training programs, Lodge Training Program and Jobs Training Program, we are always looking for ways to serve more clients. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish in our 45+ years of existence and we look forward to continuing our mission for many years to come!