Have you got Nov. 5 marked down on your calendars to attend the Access Press annual award dinner? We’ll have a silent auction that can’t be matched, with splendid donations and a raffle that won’t allow anyone to go home empty-handed. Again this year, the banquet will be at the Airport Marriott in Bloomington in one of the larger dining rooms, allowing all of us who use mobility devices to mingle without weaving through the obstacle course we encounter in a lot of banquet rooms. It’s a great opportunity to see old friends, make new ones and meet some of the leaders in the disability community. If you haven’t attended before, make this your first “Charlie Award” dinner; I’m pretty sure it won’t be your last. Be there or be square is what I say. Other more modern people say it’s a fantastic time. And by the way, those of you who have won the Charlie Smith award in the past are welcome as our guests, so please come and congratulate your colleague on becoming a member of the elite group of Charlie Smith Award recipients.
The 2010 award winner is Steve Kuntz. I was first introduced to Steve by Charlie Smith Jr. over 10 years ago. Steve was one of the founding members of the Board of Directors of Access Press. Steve was also the board chair when Charlie got sick and asked me to take over as director. I think initially Steve was pretty leery that I didn’t have the journalistic experience needed, or enough background knowledge of the Minnesota disability community. Steve had every right to be concerned: I didn’t yet have the skills or the knowledge. I had to keep going for a long time on what Charlie called “the right temperament.” But Steve, along with many others helped me gain the skills I would need to keep our paper going. The first year, Steve was the first number on my Access Press speed-dial, and he was pretty much available to me all the time. If he wasn’t free when I called, I knew that he would get back to me before the end of the day. That was one of the many values that Steve instilled in me: never go home without checking my phone and returning calls that same day. One of the most important things Steve gave me, as he helped me learn to work with the Access Press community and its board, was encouragement. He boosted my confidence that I could serve as director of Access Press and keep the paper going. I thank him for that and for all the mentoring he has done for me over the years. I was truly pleased to learn that the current board had selected him for this year’s Charlie Smith award.
Randall W. Bachman took over the executive director’s position at AXIS Healthcare just over a year ago at a very troubled time for the organization. Bachman came to AXIS not trying to fill the shoes of his predecessor, who is a very good friend to many of us, but in his own shoes—and he hit the ground running. Bachman’s confidence and business savvy has served him as well as the members of AXIS healthcare. He has negotiated new contracts with several of the state’s counties for continued care coordination, the mainstay of the original vision of AXIS healthcare. Bachman still has plenty to do as director of AXIS, and he is very concerned that all the members have the correct information needed for the transition to a new Special Needs Basic Care (SNBC) program before January 1, 2011. On behalf of Bachman, I encourage all the members of AXIS to call the care coordinator as soon as possible to get things moving so that none of your benefits would be eliminated. Remember also that the Disability Linkage line can help, but if you have waiver services you must transfer your waiver to the county before you choose an SNBC. You could lose your waiver slot if it’s not done correctly and in the right order. So, please, call AXIS and make sure everything is in line for the transition.
Finally Nov. 2, will have come and gone before our next issue. Don’t forget to vote! We have articles this month giving you information and many of the details to make sure your vote is counted. We even have options on how to get transportation to your polling place.
See you at the polls. And at the Access Press awards dinner: go mark that calendar!