Get your tickets: Access Press banquet is a celebration of accomplishments

Deaf community advocate Jessalyn Akerman-Frank is the 2015 Access Press Charlie Smith Award winner. Her advocacy and disability community commitment are multi-faceted. She is […]

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2014 Charlie Smith Award BanquetDeaf community advocate Jessalyn Akerman-Frank is the 2015 Access Press Charlie Smith Award winner. Her advocacy and disability community commitment are multi-faceted. She is known for her effectiveness in assisted deaf and hard of hearing persons who have experienced domestic abuse or sexual assault. She is also a leader in the LGBTQI deaf community and founded the annual Deaf Pride Awards. Akerman-Frank is a gifted writer and speaker, with a long resume of accomplishments. Don’t miss a chance to meet this accomplished woman and
hear her speak at the annual award banquet, Friday, November 6 in Bloomington. (See last month’s profile on our award winner.)

Everyone will want to attend an evening of fun and celebration of the accomplishments of Minnesota’s disability community, the Access Press Charlie Smith Award banquet. Banquet tickets and opportunities to donate to the silent auction and “pick your prize” raffle are still available.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with a cash bar and punch available. Enjoy music, see displays about the award winner and all of the nominees, check out and bid on the silent auction and enjoy visiting with friends. The sit-down dinner and award ceremony start at 7 p.m.

The banquet is again at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott, 2020 American Blvd E, Bloomington. The venue phone number is 952-854-7441. The venue has ample off-street parking for people with disabilities, and the event is held on the main floor.

Meal choices are Tuscan chicken, slow roasted beef or vegetarian. If mailing in one’s reservation without an official RSVP card, please note accordingly so the proper dinner is ordered.

There are several ways to reserve tickets. Go here and register for the awards event. Or mail a payment to: Access Press, Attn: Dawn, 161 St. Anthony Ave., Suite 910, St. Paul, MN 55103. A third option is to call the office and do the transaction over the phone, at 651-644-2133.

Tickets cost is $45 per person or $325 for an 8-person table (save $35) in advance. Tickets are $50 per person day of the event, at the doors.Judith Riese

One eagerly awaited feature this year is the silent auction and “pick your prize” raffle. Original art-work, restaurant and coffeehouse gift certificates, sports and theater tickets, a GoPro camera, jewelry, food and beverage items, collectibles, handmade scarves and hats, fun décor and unique housewares are among the items offered this year. There’s a bit of a state theme, with a cribbage board shaped like a state map and a fish-shaped big metal wall thermometer – perfect for that Minnesota-focused recreation room.

While some items are offered on a bid basis, other nice items can be won simply for the price of a 50-cent raffle ticket. The “pick your prize” raffle is always a favorite, with the fun of trying to win something nice to take home.

“Many generous donors make this event a success, from our banquet sponsors to those who donate items for us to place in the silent auction and raffle,” said Access Press Executive Director Tim Benjamin. “The raffle is fun and you never know what you might win.”

One feature this year is several beautiful framed photos donated by the family of Judith J. Riese, a talented photographer who died in April. Riese was 72 and lived in Shoreview. Her family members want to ensure that others can enjoy Riese’s photography, known as Riese’s Pieces, so those are offered for bid as part of the Access Press event.

Riese worked for the St. Paul Public Schools for many years. After retirement, she was able to devote more time and energy to her book club, travel, writing and her photography portfolio. Her studio was in Minneapolis’ Northrop King Building. Her beautiful work was displayed and sold at many Twin Cities and regional art galleries, and she took part on shows including Northeast Minneapolis’ Art-a-Whirl tours and festivals. Riese’s work included art photography, nature scenes and pictures from her travels.



  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself, & others from the COVID-19 virus."
  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself & others from the COVID-19 virus."

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