“Active and better lives” is the theme of the Fifth Annual 2022 MOHR Life Enrichment Awards. Five winners were selected from around Minnesota and honored this spring.
Epic Enterprise, Dundas/Northfield, is honored for In Community Life Enrichment. Staff in May 2020 planned ways to overhaul service delivery, to better assist individuals with disabilities, look at changes to direct support, and minimize spread of COVID-19. That meant looking at everything from staffing to transportation changes.
“The biggest challenge was that staff had to think in a new paradigm,” said Program Director Leah Williams. One change was to make services more self-directed. Individuals made suggestions about volunteer options and staff shared ideas as well. Clients are finding new places to be active, volunteer and connect with others.
Hubbard County Day Activity Center, Park Rapids, is honored for its arts program. The center brought in visiting artists to teach clients. They with a variety of media and in performing arts. Some produced art for sale.
Improved self- confidence has allowed people to get creative and decide what projects they want to do next,” said Laura Johnson, center executive director. The idea is to help individuals to find their passion, which can help them live more fully in the community, and take part in the area’s annual Art Leap.
ProAct, in Eagan, Red Wing, Shakopee and Hudson, Wisconsin, is honored for its virtual enrichment services. When COVID-19 kept participants at home, virtual enrichment services grew almost fivefold over just seven months, reaching 175 participants. Increased technology skills, newfound confidence and new friendships were developed. Popular gatherings are offered more often.
“We’ve received praise, gratitude and much appreciation for providing this service,” said Senior Program Manager Stephanie Osman. “This particular team of instructors is really the best the business has to offer and are so creative and eclectic with their talents.”
WACOSA, Waite Park, St. Cloud, Sauk Centre, is honored for its art program. WACOSA has developed a variety of art experiences over the past decade. WACOSA First Ave. began in 2018, working with people who have complex disabilities and are often overlooked, said WACOSA Executive Director Steve Howard. WACOSA secured funding for program expansions due to increased complexity, Howard explains. WACOSA brought in Dan Mondloch, an award-winning artist, to work on acrylics with 20 adults who have severe cognitive and physical disabilities. Adaptive tools are employed. Their work was displayed on murals at the facility.
WorkAbilities, Golden Valley, is honored for its volunteer program. WorkAbilities focuses on individual contributions by people with disabilities to projects that help others.
Clients see themselves as givers of service. They realize they’re part of a broader community and gain a deeper sense of personal value.
Overcoming perceptions that clients with untapped abilities and skills couldn’t achieve success was important, said Board President Kathy Steffen. Clients choose from many volunteer options where they can grow their own skills and abilities. Improvements in cooperation, leadership, crafting and dexterity combine with enhanced social skills to benefit the people involved.