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Johnson’s Riverside Boarding Home was started by Oscar and Eleanor Johnson. The home derived from a foster home in the 1950s, a board and lodging in the 1960s, and to an intermediate care facility for the developmentally disabled in the 1970s. The transition to the ICF-MR facility came about due to Oscar and Eleanor’s son, Dean, who was developmentally disabled due to a traumatic birth.

The couple wanted to provide a secure home-like environment for Dean in addition to many other people like him who had been needlessly placed in the state hospitals. Dean passed away in 1976, but because of him, many others have benefited by living a more normal and a happier lifestyle.

In 1978, Oscar and Eleanor sold the home to their son and daughter-in-law, Paul and Geno Johnson. A corporation was formed in 1979, and the name was changed to Johnson’s Riverside Boarding Home, Inc. Throughout the years, Paul added five more facilities: River Oaks in 1982, Maple Wood in 1991, Brent Wood in 1996, East Wood in 2003, and River Bend in 2004.

There were more changes that happened to Johnson’s Riverside Boarding Home. In 2004, it was downsized and changed from an ICR-MR to an adult foster care with supportive living services.

In January 2008, two of Paul’s daughters, Melanie and Michelle, took over the daily operations of the business. Melanie became the facility administrator and Michelle was the program director. They continued to run six group homes for adults with developmental disabilities.

In 2017, Northstar: Promoting Independence was launched. NPI allows individuals to gain or maintain independence in their own homes. 

East Wood Residence, was closed during the pandemic. Melanie and Michelle currently operate five facilities along with NPI. 

Who We Are: About Us
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Owner/Program Director


Michelle is the Program Director and co-owner of Johnson’s Riverside, Inc. Michelle began working at Johnson’s Riverside in 2003 doing direct care while she was attending the University of North Dakota. She originally started out wanting to pursue a degree in Mass Communications, but when she began working with people with disabilities and the elderly, she knew that this is the environment and people she wanted to dedicate her career to. She decided to change her degree to pursue her dreams.

In 2006, she graduated with a degree in Social Work and moved back to Thief River Falls to work in the office with her father and sister as an office manager and assistant QMRP.

In 2008 after their father wanted to retire, Michelle and her sister decided to take over the business.

In 2017, Michelle helped launch their new program, Northstar: Promoting Independence, which allows individual gain or maintain independence in their own homes. Caring for and helping others has always been something that is important in her life.

Who We Are: Welcome
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Melanie is the Administrator and co-owner at Johnson’s Riverside, Inc. Melanie began working for Johnson’s Riverside in 1996 doing direct care while in her senior year of high school.

While attending St. Cloud State University she continued doing direct care for another company. In 2001, Melanie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education.

She taught Special Education for three years prior to returning to Johnson’s Riverside, Inc.

In 2004, Melanie began working as direct care, live-in house parent, and office manager. She later became the Assistant Administrator at Johnson’s.

Melanie and her sister Michelle took over the day-to-day operations after their dad retired on January 1, 2008 and she became the Administrator.

In 2017, the sisters launched their new program, Northstar: Promoting Independence. NPI provides education and care services for people to maintain or gain independence while living in their own homes.

Who We Are: Welcome
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