People and Places – September 2012

Friendship Club members play a Really Big Game The Highland Friendship Club, a group for people with disabilities, enjoyed The […]

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Friendship Club members play a Really Big Game

The Highland Friendship Club, a group for people with disabilities, enjoyed The Really Big Game at the Highland Park Little League Fields in St. Paul Aug. 9. The baseball game spectacular for teens and adults with disabilities not only gave club members a chance to play on a real baseball field, they also received baseball jerseys and hats. It was a chance for 21 club members to participate in a team sport and perhaps gain some inspiration to try out for a future Special Olympics competition.

More than 70 volunteers from the Highland area, signed on to assist with the needs to pull this event off. The St. Paul Saints baseball organization provided entertainment and Walser Toyota served free hot dogs. Additional sponsorship for The Really Big Game was provided by Target Corporation, Plum’s Neighborhood Restaurant and Bar, Minnesota Label, Central Minnesota Westwind Enterprises, D&J Glove Repair, General Sports, Mark and Heidi Wingerd, Mark and Diane Rachac, Mike and Beth Domler, and several anonymous donors.

The Highland Friendship Club supports young adults with disabilities by helping them make new friends, learn new skills and have fun too. Learn more and consider donating to their worthwhile organization at  



Minneapolis Veterans Home holds grand opening and dedication

Gov. Mark Dayton, federal and state leaders gathered Aug. 15 to for the grand opening and dedication of a multi-phase project at the Minneapolis Veterans Home. The event for Building 19 and the adult day center marks the first milestone of a major renovation and construction project to modernize facilities and meet the new industry standard of resident-centered care for Minnesota’s veterans.

Building 19 is a state-of-the-art skilled nursing care facility that incorporates the latest technology and modern amenities to enhance care. This building has 100 private rooms designed around “neighborhoods” to offer care in a home-style atmosphere. This facility includes a greenhouse, barber and beauty shops, common areas with natural light and greenery and a town square.

The adult day center is the second in the country to offer day services in a veteran-specific model of care operated by a state Veterans Affairs Department. This day program allows participants maintain their highest level of independence and physical and mental well-being while remaining at home. The adult day concept also provides care and respite for caregivers, helping ease the strain of caring for a loved one or family member.

The Minneapolis Veterans Home opened in 1887 and is celebrating its 125th birthday this year. The Aug. 15 event featured a patriotic program with remarks by Dayton and other officials, special music and tours of the new and renovated buildings.



Concussion prevention emphasized

Head injuries and concussions caused by sports are in the spotlight, with recent law changes in Minnesota meant to protect young athletes. Good Sports, a nationwide non-profit group, and Riddell Sports are bringing smiles to thousands of kids across the country with their donation of new Riddell Revolution Speed football helmets.

Nearly 2,000 youth will benefit from this initiative including programs in Minnesota, Arkansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Texas and West Virginia. The donation is part of Riddell’s commitment to protecting athletes through innovative technology.

Riddell provides the helmets for the National Football League (NFL).

Across the country, many youth football programs are struggling to provide proper equipment to the children who participate in their programs. Some have too many kids to support while others have financial constraints. Riddell’s football helmet donation will benefit a dozen programs nationwide. All helmets being donated are Riddell Revolution Speed helmets—one of the company’s most technologically-advanced helmets. The donation will help recipient organizations get one step closer to outfitting their players this season.

“Thanks to generous partners like Riddell we are able to provide disadvantaged youth with opportunities to participate in athletic activities with the proper equipment—a critical component of supporting healthy, active lifestyles for young people,” said Melissa Harper, Good Sports’ chief executive officer.

“This is especially important in football, where properly equipping a team can be too costly for all kids to be able to play.”



DHS hospitals celebrate anniversaries, new leader

Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) hospitals in St. Peter and Rochester are celebrating milestones. Now in their sixth year of providing mental health care to area residents, the two community behavioral health hospitals also have a new leader.

Anthony Walters began as administrator of the facilities in June. He replaced Carol Olson, who this spring became chief executive officer at the state-operated Minnesota Security Hospital. Walters was previously administrator of the community behavioral health hospital in Bemidji, leading it from January 2007 to June 2009.

DHS began opening the hospitals in 2006 as part of a redesign of mental health services to replace large regional treatment centers with several community-based programs. The 16-bed facilities provide short-term, inpatient psychiatric care to adults until they can return home or transfer to a less intensive environment. The smaller setting within the community allows individuals to remain close to their homes, and support of family and friends, during treatment.

Walters, who has 18 years of behavioral health care experience at government, non-profit and private organizations, said he is excited to be back with DHS. Most recently he was chief executive officer of Universal Health Services, Inc., in Arkansas.

“I think the community behavioral health model does tremendous good,” said Walters. “For a patient, receiving evidence-based care in a humane way is extremely important. The model is very effective at determining what patients need and seeking to partner with individuals so they can achieve recovery.”

The St. Peter hospital opened in May 2006, followed by the Rochester hospital in July 2006. In its first six years, St. Peter served nearly 1,300 people, and Rochester served approximately 1,000. The average length of stay across all community behavioral health hospitals in Minnesota is less than 20 days compared to 45-50 days at regional treatment center campuses. Less than 10 percent of patients are readmitted within 30 days of their discharge.

Olson, who led the St. Peter hospital for its first six years and in 2012 also took over Rochester, credited the communities for helping in the hospitals’ success.

“We work very closely with support systems in the community for when our patients no longer need hospital level of care,” Olson said. “We serve people close to home so that local support services, counties, families and their loved ones could continue that social connection to them, which is really important in recovery.”

DHS State Operated Services currently operates seven community behavioral health hospitals across Minnesota in Alexandria, Annandale, Bemidji, Baxter, Fergus Falls, Rochester and St. Peter.



Lifetrack Resources to expand services with addition of WFRC

Lifetrack Resources has announced the acquisition of Working Family Resource Center (WFRC) as a program effective Aug. 1. This will help both agencies better serve their clients.

“Being able to move the collaboration between Lifetrack Resources and Working Family Resource Center to this level of integration will allow more parents and their children to benefit from WFRC’s high quality programming while enhancing Lifetrack’s work with families and individuals,” said TrixieAnn Girtz Golberg, President of Lifetrack Resources.

This is a strategic decision to bring together complementary services and resources to the community, allowing families to access a greater spectrum of services including work-life education while collectively minimizing administrative expenses.

Working Family Resource Center educates and supports employees to effectively manage the demands of work and family. For more than 25 years, WFRC has provided quality educational seminars at the worksite, in-person and online, in order to strengthen individuals, families and communities.

Lifetrack Resources is a non-profit human services organization with a mission to work together to develop the strengths within children, families and adults facing the greatest life challenges so that all families and individuals are strong, healthy and productive members of the community.

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